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Brooklyn Nets add youth and athleticism, but what about leadership?

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Al Bello

The Nets will be a much younger, much more athletic and certainly less expensive team when they walk unto the court next November, but what about leadership?  Can they overcome the loss of Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd, both with reputations for toughness when it counts?  And will the "core" of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, who were seen as lacking in toughness two years ago, be any better?

As Ohm Youngmisuk writes Wednesday, that's a lot of questions.  Sure, Kevin Garnett will be back but in a reduced role. And no one will ever accuse Lionel Hollins of babying his players.  But what about on the court?

The obvious candidate is Williams, but he has had issues with a number of his teammates over the past two years. Team insiders say it wasn't so much that they they didn't get along very well but Pierce and others wanted to see more toughness from Williams. Kidd at one point considered making Johnson captain to bring him out of his shell a bit, knowing that at big moments, his calm --and competence-- shone. But J.J. is more of a quiet leader, hardly vocal.

There could be other candidates as well, suggests Youngmisuk, writing that Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson and Mason Plumlee also "play with an edge."  Jarrett Jack, he notes, is "hard-nosed." Bottom line, though, is that it appears that Hollins will have to bring out leadership and toughness, with the help of a veteran coaching staff, a number of whom had reputations as tough guys when they played in the NBA.

One person who would like to try his hand at bringing both qualities to the Nets is the new retired Jerry Stackhouse who worked with the team's youth two years ago in his last year in the NBA.  He told the Daily News that he'd like to get into coaching and said he's emailed Hollins but admits that he is likely part of "a long list" of people and coaches looking for a spot on Hollins’ staff. In fact, other than a couple of video coordinators, the staff looks like it's done.