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NETS FIRE LIONEL HOLLINS; BILLY KING REASSIGNED

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets announced Sunday that the team has cut ties with Lionel Hollins.and "reassigned" Billy King

Tony Brown, a former Net and the team's defensive coach, will take over the team as interim coach. The GM position will remain vacant until a replacement can be found, according to a press release. Paul Westphal, who's been a close friend of Hollins and his lead assistant, will not return. His wife, Cindy, posted to his FaceBook fan page that "Paul's loyalty was and is to Lionel."

"I’m thankful to Billy and Mikhail (Prokhorov) and Dmitry (Razumov) for the opportunity to have coached the Nets," Hollins told Mike Mazzeo. "I’m disappointed to where it didn’t work out to where we didn’t have playoff success and fans weren’t celebrating in the streets of Brooklyn."

The nature of King's "reassignment" was not disclosed. One team insider described the move was "face-saving" while another said King would remain as an "adviser," but noted that the Nets don't plan on doing much if anything at the deadline. Frank Zanin, the assistant GM, is a long-time confidant of King's, is now the de facto GM.

Although Sunday's news came with little or no warning --including to players-- Mikhail Prokhorov has been gathering names of potential replacements for a few weeks.

Multiple sources noted that while Russian ownership was willing to accept some blame and thus forgive King for the failed trades and other moves that left the team bereft of draft picks, they were increasingly upset with his hiring of Hollins. In fact, Hollins was hired so quickly after Jason Kidd's move to Milwaukee that neither Mikhail Prokhorov nor Dmitry Razumov had met Hollins prior his being hired.

A close reading of the statement announcing the moves indicate the difference in the way the Russians viewed King and Hollins.

King is described as being "aggressive in his quest to build a winning team and has been a key factor toward the Nets making the playoffs for each of the last three seasons. Beyond this, he has been a tremendous friend, wonderful colleague, and loyal partner and we wish him success in the future."

Hollins, on the other hand, is given short shrift. "I also want to thank Lionel for his efforts and dedication on behalf of the Nets franchise"

Prokhorov will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Monday at Barclays Center.

Here's the full statement released Sunday...

"After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team," said Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov. "By making this decision now, it enables our organization to use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records. It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership. With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching. We have learned a great deal during the past six years and our experiences will guide us for the future. Following the consolidation of team ownership last month, I can assure you that I’m more determined and committed than ever to build a winner."

"I want to thank Billy for his hard work in the development of the Nets. At every step of the way, he has been aggressive in his quest to build a winning team and has been a key factor toward the Nets making the playoffs for each of the last three seasons. Beyond this, he has been a tremendous friend, wonderful colleague, and loyal partner and we wish him success in the future. I also want to thank Lionel for his efforts and dedication on behalf of the Nets franchise. To our fans, I thank you for your continued enthusiasm and support and please know that brighter days are ahead. I’m excited to begin the process of choosing the best GM and head coach available."

King was named as the Nets' GM on July 14, 2010, and was in his sixth season in that role. During his one and a half seasons as Nets coach, Hollins had a regular season record of 48-71 and guided the team to the first round of the NBA Playoffs last season.