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Stein and Youngmisuk: Nets "evaluating" Lionel Hollins

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the Nets dropping out of the playoff race ... and having lost two straight games by 35+ points ... the Nets have begun "evaluating" Lionel Hollins' job as head coach, report ESPN's Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk.

The Brooklyn Nets, increasingly worried about the team's recent lack of competitiveness, have launched an in-season evaluation of various facets of the team, including new coach Lionel Hollins, according to league sources.

‎The Nets lost consecutive road games last week to the Los Angeles Clippers ‎and Utah Jazz by 39 and 35 points, respect‎ively, sparking concern within the organization about whether Hollins' message is getting through. It's just the fifth time in NBA history that a team has lost back-to-back games by 35 points or more.

Nets ownership, sources said, is monitoring the situation closely,

As Stein and Youngmisuk note, the Nets have gone through four coaches since moving to Brooklyn --Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo, Jason Kidd and now Hollins-- and Hollins has a four-year deal which tops $20 million, with bonuses.

There have been persistent rumors out of the Nets training facility --and elswhere-- about players finding fault with Hollins' offense, and his tendency to criticize players publicly as part of what seems to be a "tear them down, then build them up" strategy.  It's a strategy that hasn't sat well with some outside the locker room as well.

Sources say locker-room tensions between the outspoken coach and some of his players are rising as the Nets continue to falter, with sources telling ESPNNY.com's Mike Mazzeo that Hollins' public criticism of various players this season -- such as Lopez and fellow big man Mason Plumlee -- has rankled ownership.

Stein and Youngmisuk note as well that the team is looking at players as part of their review, and suggest that recent trade rumors involving Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack, four of the team's highest paid players, is part of the process.

Later, Chris Mannix tweeted (and Adrian Wojnarowski retweeted) that Hollins job is safe...

Stefan Bondy quoted a"source" that there was nothing to the ESPN report...

Meanwhile, Alex Raskin quotes "a source with knowledge of the Nets’ thinking"  that talks between the Nets and Hornets about a trade of Joe Johnson for Lance Stephenson etc. are over...

According to a source with knowledge of the Nets’ thinking, the report about Hollins was untrue and the trade talks with the Hornets had ended. Still, the two teams could reignite negotiations closer to the Feb. 19 trade deadline. In fact, the Hornets have discussed sending Stephenson to Brooklyn no fewer than three times since signing him to a three-year, $27 million deal last summer, according to the source.

Stein and Youngmisuk reported that ESPN had confirmed the talks, but that they have been going for weeks and  that "no Brooklyn/Charlotte deal is imminent."

The Nets are currently 18-26 and are in ninth place in the East.  They play against Wednesday vs. the East's best team, the Hawks, who've won 16 straight.