Tim Bontemps caught up with Lionel Hollins and asked about the elephant in the (Nets locker) room: the body of predictions, most based on analytics, that say Brooklyn is done before the season is even started.
"I see it, [and] I laugh. What do they do? They go in and take each player’s numbers, put them in a group and that puts us at the bottom of the NBA. But that’s in the past. Whatever anybody did good last year is still in the past, and whatever anybody did bad last year is still in the past.
"Now we’re here, and everybody has to go out and obviously you can’t have the same numbers as an individual. You hope they’d be better. But we still have our core guys … I’m pleased and I’m excited."
In particular, Hollins was dismissive of the idea that the Nets won't be the same team without Deron Williams, whose departure, for better or worse, defines the off-season. As Bontemps writes, "Hollins and the Nets knew they would be in this position when they made the decision to cut ties with Williams. Now it’s up to the coach to try and prove his team’s doubters wrong. The coach isn't bothered by it.
"They can say you’re going to be good, and they can say you’re going to be bad, but ultimately we have to go out and play. Last year we were in the playoffs and we lost the first two games in Atlanta and somebody said, ‘The percentages are that the series is over.’
"I said, ‘What do we do? Quit playing?’ We just have to go play. Injuries happen to teams, teams don’t meet expectations … anything can happen."
One thing Hollins said he's certain of, the Nets off-season. He liked what Billy King did.
"We did what we set out to do, and that was to try to get some younger players, change our team a little bit, try to get some athleticism. I thought Billy did a great job. Now it’s up to us to try to work with and develop these individuals."
So, whether they're "putrid," "pocket lint," or better than that will have to wait.
- Lionel Hollins scoffs at idea Nets doomed without Deron Williams - Tim Bontemps - New York Post