Is Lionel Hollins next coach of the Brooklyn Nets?

Kevin C. Cox

Whoever the Nets next coach is, he will be the seventh head coach, permanent or interim, since 2009. Here's the list: Lawrence Frank, Tom Barrise, Kiki Vandeweghe, Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo and Jason Kidd. Seven coaches in a little more than five years  Not very Spurs-like.

Now, it's that time again, coach search time! And according to Woj, the search has begun.

Lionel Hollins seems to be the guy with the best credentials, but don't expect the Nets to sign anyone that quickly. They have apparently learned that lesson. Also, expect them to cast a wide net, looking overseas as well as in the college ranks.

The problem, and it's not a small one no matter how it's spun, is that Kidd's philosophy dictated a lot of the team's acquisitions, both in trades, free agency and the draft.  What will the next coach's philosophy be?  How does the roster fit with his plan?  See why the Nets want that first rounder? It's not just about losing the coach, it's about his timing.

Here's our best bets...

--Lionel Hollins, who has been off a year since being unceremoniously dumped by the stats-crazed front office in Memphis. He is a more seat-of-the-pants guy than his successor, Dave Joerger.  He took a moribund franchise and turned it into a 56-win team. He is a grind-it-out, defensive-minded coach who has a good record with knuckleheads and young players alike.  Before that 56 win season, however, he never won more than 46 games in a season and had a losing career record.

--Kevin Ollie. Call it a pipe dream, but do not dismiss it. Ollie, who played for the Nets in 2000-01 as a back-up to Stephon Marbury, had a successful journeyman's career in the NBA. At UConn, however, he has shown himself to be a terrific coach, following in Jim Calhoun's wake. He has said he's not interested in anything but the Huskies and his new five-year contract contains a hefty $5 million buyout if he signed with an NBA team this year. He makes $2.8 million a year, more than Kidd, less than Derek Fisher. Ollie is a Philadelphia guy who's close to Billy King. Nets are intrigued but understand the issues.

--Billy Donovan. A great college coach who for two days in 2007 was coach of the Magic then reneged on his deal.  He, like Ollie, signed a long-term deal this spring. He is paid nearly $4 million a year and has three years to go. No indication of his buyout situation. A native New Yorker --Long Island actually-- he was mentioned as a possibility for the Knicks job this spring. At the time, he said this about the NBA: "I got into coaching because of the basketball piece of it, and there is an intrigue as it relates to (the NBA)."  Few college coaches win and develop NBA players as well as Donovan, whose former charges include Joakim Noah, Bradley Beal, Al Horford, Chandler Parsons, David Lee, Mike Miller, most of whom were drafted low but were well prepared for the NBA.

--Ettore Messina. The Italian basketball site, Sportando, reported over the weekend that the Italian coach is a "serious candidate" for the Nets job.  He does have one great qualification: he was the coach of CSKA Moscow when Mikhail Prokhorov owned the team and won two Euroleague championships. They are mutual fans of each other. Two years ago in Istanbul during the Euroleague Final Four, Prokhorov was cheering for CSKA Moscow Messina did spend a season on the bench as an assistant  in Los Angeles with the Lakers and was rumored to be taking an assistant job with the Spurs but that was denied.

--George Karl. According to reports, the 63-year-old veteran coach is interested in the job but the Nets weren't much interested in his last year after the Nuggets dumped him.  A consistent 50-win coach, Karl was fired after four straight 50-win seasons .... followed by first round exits. Ownership and Karl had tired of one another.  Karl is easily the most experienced in this group, with more than 1,100 wins and a .600 winning percentage in 25 years of coaching.  Problem is he lost in the first round 14 times and has a miserable .432 winning percentage overall in the playoffs. His best season was nearly 20 years ago when his Sonics lost to Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals in 1996.  That was after a 64 win season.  One big benefit to him: he should be able to handle the media quite well. He has been part of it for the past year.

What about Mark Jackson? Just don't see the Nets hiring a friend of and advocate for Jason Kidd who was dumped after two 50-win seasons because he wanted more power.  He also expressed reservations about the Nets signing Jason Collins as the NBA's first openly gay player.  He was born in Brooklyn and went to Bishop Loughlin, a few blocks from Barclays Center, before playing for St. John's.

And what about George Willis recommendation that the Nets sign Patrick Ewing? Please.

This is by no means an inclusive list. The Nets coaching search is in its infancy.  Expect some of the same names from last year's search to re-surface.  Oh joy.

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