1. What is your reaction to the Jason Kidd saga? How do you think the Nets handled the situation?
Net Income: It was shocking, it was tawdry and for the most part unexpected. A lot of people knew he didn't have a lot of confidence in Billy King, and there were issues of legitimate concern, but the manner in which he dealt with it was dumb as well as despicable. This is a franchise that TWICE gave him great opportunities, but which he screwed by announcing the day before the draft, the week before free agency that he wanted out. At the training facility press conference, he told reporters about how the organization represented "class." Well, he didn't.
Reed Wallach: It was a mess. Kidd betrayed the team that gave him a shot to coach a playoff team within days of retiring. Eight-year-old Reed would have put holes in his wall and burned his Kidd jersey, but the current Reed is in disbelief that one can get so greedy after so little time. Stuff like this happens in the NBA and it is unfortunate that such a unselfish player became such a selfish coach.
Anthony Puccio: The words to describe Kidd's selfishness aren't appropriate for this board. He was the Nets past, present, and future. It's unfortunate to have bad blood with the guy who brought such greatness to this franchise.
I think Billy King and the Nets handled this situation perfect. It would've been the easy way out for Billy to blame Kidd and point fingers for trying to steal his job, but instead, he proved to be the bigger man and call it 'business' with no hard feelings. Plus, King was brutally honest about everything.
Dexter Henry: My reaction to the Jason Kidd saga was not one of total shock. I didn't have a problem with Kidd asking for more power. In my opinion and employer has a right to feel that he is better qualified for another position to help the organization and ask for it. What is questionable is Kidd's timing and he had to know better that it wasn't very likely that he would get that opportunity after one year of being a head coach (although it wasn't likely he was going to get the head coaching job either). People ask for promotions at jobs everyday so I am not stunned it would happen in the NBA nor do I think it is a big deal. My issue with Kidd is the fact he pursued another job that another man held in another organization and eventually caused him to get fired. It was a bad job by him and the Bucks that just can't happen. The people I feel sorry for in this situation is Larry Drew and the Nets fans. With that being said I think the Nets handled the situation the right way and moved on extremely quickly in their coaching search and hire.
Ghoti: The best case scenario is that Kidd stayed and continued the excellent job he was doing. But, being the person that he is, that isn't what happened. I do not buy into the spin that this is somehow a positive and they upgraded the coach while obtaining draft picks. That's just a rationalization. The truth is that Kidd did some real damage to the Nets organization. Starting over every year with a new coach and a new philosophy is not the way to run a franchise. Since 2004 when the Nets announced they were moving to Brooklyn, they have had fuzzy leadership at the top and questionable motivation as to what the goals of the organization actually are. Winning has not been the priority at any time during this decade, and it still seems to lag behind other factors - such as gaining local and national relevance and building a fanbase. Whether any of that contributed to the loss of the franchise's best asset is unclear - and we may never know - but indications are this was at least a part of Kidd's thinking. That won't change with Hollins or any other coach.
Larry Fleisher: Though many were excited a year ago and even during the turnaround, it's not really a surprise. It seems like many things with Kidd don't end well and we probably looked past it when the playoffs were ongoing. As for how the Nets handled it, they did very well in their public comments, especially Billy King at press conferences and during radio spots.
2. Was Lionel Hollins the right choice as the successor to Kidd?
NI: Maybe the Nets could have gone out and done weeks of research into a wide variety of coaching candidates. But they did not have that luxury with free agency starting the day before free agency. It's one thing not to have a coach for the draft, but not to have a coach for free agency? No way. Hollins is a fine choice. He is ready made. He doesn't need an instruction manual. He has a track record. He is, as Tom Penn of ESPN said, a "great relationship coach," that is someone who can relate well to his players. He has as many championship rings as Kidd (1). Do I have questions? Sure. But considering all the downside of who they could have chose (e.g. Mark Jackson), this was a good choice.
RW: Absolutely. Hollins was a top candidate for the job last season before Kidd swooped in to take the job. He is a defensive-minded coach that has received high marks from his players, two things that the Nets should value highly, for the team slacked on defense last season and has a group of veteran players who can buy into the right coach. Hollins, by almost all accounts, is a better coach than Kidd to begin with. The team got two picks and a similar contract for a better coach, more or less.
AP: Yes. Last off-season, if it wasn't kidd, I think it would've (and should've) been Hollins. Very low-risk, high reward coach with plenty of experience and success in the past. When asked about Hollins giving Memphis extra wins, Marc Gasol replied with, "yes,yes,yes. No doubt about it." That's got to show for something.
DH: Personally I would have went with Mark Jackson and think he would have been a great fit for the organization but I understand that the Nets most likely didn't want to hire a coach that most recently had issues with his front office. Lionel Hollins was a very good choice in my opinion. He is a no-nonsense coach that preaches discipline and I am a fan of his defensive philosophies. I believe this team needed to improve on defense and I think he will help. I like the hire but I also liked the hire of Jason Kidd. The NBA is predictable and who knows what can happen in the world of coaching so does anyone really know what is a good hire initially?
G: Sure. They already vetted him and since free agency was a week away it was a must to bring in a solid coach with a good reputation. There was a report that Memphis officials laughed when Hollins and "stability" were mentioned in the same sentence. Well, this was a situation where there could have been complete chaos and hiring Hollins quickly and with no equivocation immediately stabilized things. The man himself may not represent stability, but this hiring sure did.
LF: I think so. He's proven he can win and anytime you see someone like Zach Randolph call him the best coach I ever had. As much as Mark Jackson coaching in Brooklyn would have been a nice story since he went to Bishop Loughlin (right down the block from Barclays Center) and St. John's, I have deep reservations about anyone who clashed with management in way that's portrayed regardless of who's right and who's wrong.
3. Can Hollins mirror, or improve, on Kidd's success last season?
NI: Well, if everyone is healthy going into the season, and whether that includes Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett or not, I don't see them starting 10-21. Winning 44 games in the East is not such a high hurdle when you won 56 games in the West two years ago with a roster that had NO superstar, NO player with championship experience and a whole lot of flaws. If getting beyond the second round is your standard, that might be tougher, but again, this is a coach who got to the Western Conference Finals.
RW: The team may look different, and I don't know if they will be as talented, but the team will be more stable. In his four full seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Hollins led four straight 40-win seasons, one of which was a lockout-shorten season, and can help the Nets develop a true brand of basketball, something that has been lacking from Brooklyn since they moved to the borough.
Hollins was not given an elite squad in Memphis over the past several years, yet he still took the team into the postseason in three of his four years in his most recent stint with Memphis; one season they went to the Western Conference Finals one season. That's the key, the Nets may not be as talented as they were last season under Kidd, but Hollins can get the more out of a potentially worse Brooklyn team.
AP: Assuming Lopez & Williams come back healthy next season, there's no reason why he shouldn't improve upon last year. If the Nets don't deal with the early struggles and injuries last season, we're talking about a probable 50-win team. IF Hollins can make the most out of the defensive-minded guys like Kirilenko, I think we're going to see a lot of the scrappy defense we saw last year.
DH: It depends on the final roster heading into training camp. There are still so many questions surrounding this team that has already lost Shaun Livingston. It is uncertain whether or not Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett will return. I do believe that Hollins can take this team to the next level defensively but how does that translate into success for this team. Currently even with Hollins on board I don't see this as the roster currently stand going beyond the second round. The Nets improving on last year success hinges on what happens in free agency and if they can get younger as well as better defensively.
G: No. Hollins is a completely different coach with a completely different system and a completely different philosophy. In fact, since it appears there will be significant roster turnover, there may even be an issue of the players learning to play together. Again. There may also be an issue with leadership, depending on who remains and who is brought in. Again. Anyone expecting things to just start where things left off last year are in for a rough surprise. If things go well, the kinks will be worked out by Christmas. Pray everyone stays healthy and the East remains weak.
LF: I think Hollins can because remember this in the year before acquiring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets won 49 games with a core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Of course that premise is based on Lopez and Williams returning to their health levels of after the All-Star break in 2013 and we won't know that until training camp.
4. Will Hollins defensive minded approach work well with the Nets, a team that struggled at that end?
NI: It better! Because this could very well be a team with six or seven new faces again and they will need a plan, a program to congeal fast, particularly on defense. The Nets couldn't close last season, whether in regular season or the playoffs and as often as not, it was a defensive breakdown that was the issue. Marc Gasol was seen as a defensive liability on arrival in the NBA. With Hollins coaching him, he became Defensive Player of the Year. The man can coach defense.
RW: Yes. Last year, the Nets were below the league average in defensive efficiency and opponent field-goal percentage, something that plagued them during the season. Hollins will likely deviate away from a small-ball lineup, especially since Brook Lopez is coming back and Shaun Livingston is off to California, but he will also implement a fine defensive system that will take the pressure off of the Nets sometimes stalling offense. Even though Hollins has a reputation not to be an elite offensive coach, he knows what he needs to do. He told David Aldridge of NBA.com, "My goal offensively is to get a lot more ball movement, a lot more side to side penetration." The Nets have enough talent to have the offense remain afloat with a pedestrian offensive coach, but Hollins elite defensive mind will mesh well with the team.
AP: I think Hollins needs to make the most out of scrappy guys like Kirilenko. Although the Nets lost the long arms of Livingston, I'm hoping Hollins brings the most out of the Nets and their ability to force turnovers, similar to last season.
DH: As I stated before I believe in Hollins' defensive philosophies. I think his defensive minded approach is going to help the team. Defense and rebounding is what keeps you in games especially against teams that on paper may be more talented than you offensively. They key question is whether or not Brooklyn will have the players to execute the way he wants. I believe the team needs to get younger on the perimeter or bring in a good young perimeter defender. Hollins had Tony Allen during his time in Memphis and he was very instrumental to their defensive success. Losing Livingston who excelled as a perimeter defender hurts but if his defensive efforts on the perimeter can be replaced I think we can see instant results from this team defensively.
G: This is why it's important to bring in a good offensive coach. You can't win anything unless you are effective on both ends. I don't agree that the Nets struggled defensively last season. They learned to play to their strengths. With no rim protector and a lack of interior size, they were forced to use their huge guards and wings to create mismatches and force turnovers. That was the turning point of the season. Lopez getting hurt didn't improve the team - that's nonsense - but it did force the coaching staff to get creative, and what they came up with was brilliant. Hollins knows how to be creative on that end and use the talent he has to play good defense. He's proven that. Offensively, he'll need some help.
LF: Without knowing the exact specifications of it, it can. The Grizzlies consistently ranked high in many defensive categories under Hollins and you'd like to think players will do that for him here, especially if Kevin Garnett is here and vocal about that side of the ball.
5. What are your main concerns about this week's turn of events?
NI: Same old Nets. After all the programming and rebranding of Brooklyn's Nets, this, a soap opera with a lot of bad acting. The Nets look like a bumbling, mismanaged operation where issues don't get resolved early or worse, are unrecognized. Will the fans remain loyal? Sure. But what about the stars you need to win, and their agents? Does the Nets image induce face-palming, SMH's and outright guffaws, as it did in New Jersey. Hope not, but fear that is does.
RW: Continuity. I have preached it since this team moved to Brooklyn that they need to develop a system and be consistent. However, the Nets are on their fourth coach since the beginning of the 2012 season while also having to plug in a bevy of different players into key roles, several of which are long gone from the roster. Change is sometimes for the best, but not every season. If the Nets want to be the true contenders they aspire to be, they need to begin to keep and develop young talent, but also have a coach install a brand of basketball that suits the key players. Hollins may be the fit of the future with the Nets, the team has kept in tact their original core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, and they still are in the East. It isn't all over for the team, but this is one of the many embarrassing moments in Nets history. How Prokhorov, King, and the team itself responds to the latest debacle will be telling to which direction the team is truly heading.
AP: I have two concerns about next season: 1. Williams' ankles 2. Lopez's foot. If these guys are healthy, I think the success of the team will overshadow any of these issues that Kidd has caused. As Billy King said, "the franchise is bigger than one person."
DH: My main concern is how this affects the players on the roster especially Pierce and Garnett. A huge part of the reason they came to Brooklyn was because of Jason Kidd and now he is gone. It is hard for me to see them both coming back. The problem is this hurts the Nets in free agency and has hurt them already as they have been handcuffed by this situation in the first week. However, while this situation may have grossly affected the Nets plans in the short term it may end up being a blessing in disguise and allow them to move forward a bit quicker than expected and get younger for the long-term.
G: You can just copy and paste the concerns I had last year. How quickly will the players learn to play together? How quickly till they learn a new system? Will they finally have leadership? Will they finally have an identity? Can Williams and Lopez stay healthy? Can Joe Johnson hold up at his age? Will the role players continue to develop? Is there enough athleticism on this aging roster? And there is the problem. Many of those questions were either answered or on their way to being answered, and all of that progress is undone. We are back to square one. The team still has one of the better rosters in the conference and should be a solid playoff team again, but the way to get beyond that is to really figure out your identity and everyone's role and then get to the point where everything comes easily and naturally without having to think about it. You know what you are doing, and the opponent has to react to it. We just watched a team win a title by taking that to the most extreme degree. Luckily, there aren't many teams like that. Unluckily, the Nets remain one of the farthest away.
LF: The main concerns were that the Nets were heading down the slippery slope of dysfunction that often derails things in the NBA but quickly moving to get Hollins and King's measured responses can help change that perception. Also helping if they can either sign Paul Pierce or get something for him in a sign-and-trade and that something is better than the initial offer of Reggie Bullock, Jared Dudley and Matt Barnes.