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Nets scout J.R. Holden on the organization: ‘They preach family and it’s real’

Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade v Cedevita Zagreb - Turkish Airlines Euroleague Photo by Marko Metlas/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Word out of Detroit is that J.R. Holden, the Nets director of player personnel, is a candidate for the Pistons’ assistant GM job now that Troy Weaver has been named GM. Although Holden admits his goal is to be an NBA GM some day, it seems like prying him away from Brooklyn could be tough for the Pistons.

Holden, a European legend, held court for more than two hours on a Eurohoops podcast posted Thursday. Like many Nets players, he had nothing but praise for the organization, particularly how it’s treated him and his family during the COVID-19 crisis.

Now 43, Holden first spoke about Jeff Peterson, the Nets assistant GM (who was interviewed for the Pistons GM job). Holden said of Peterson, “He’s my boss, a great dude, but our whole staff is cool. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been around a lot of groups, but this group is very inclusive. It’s all ‘what do you want? How can we help?’”

“We talk, text, every other minute,” he told three fellow Euroleaguers led by Kyle Hines who’s still playing in Italy. “I do like Brooklyn because we are close-knit group. When they preach family, it’s real.”

He detailed just how things evolved after the league shut down in March.

“When the coronavirus went down, it was ‘what does your family need? They sent my whole family masks. They really do treat you like family. It wasn’t just, ‘how you and your family doing? It was, ‘hey, we’re going to send your family masks,’ [and] ‘Brooklyn Strong’ t-shirts for my kids.

“They really do treat it like a family and I really do appreciate it.”

Holden joined the Nets a year ago. Although he lives in Detroit, he’s been connected to other Nets managers online. After passing on Brooklyn in 2018 to take a job scouting for the 76ers, he was recruited by the Nets again in 2019. In his job, he focuses mainly on scouting pro players but he also has a wealth of knowledge of European basketball.

After graduating Bucknell, the Pittsburgh native played overseas for 13 years (1998-2011) , including nine years (2002-11) with CSKA Moscow. He appeared in eight straight EuroLeague Final Fours, winning two titles. He also won nine straight Russian League championships, as well as national league titles in Latvia, Belgium and Greece. And playing for the Russian national team in the 2007 FIBA Eurobasket title game, he hit the game-winning shot, what he called “my Michael Jordan moment.”

Holden had a lot of Nets connections even before joining the organization. He teamed with Trajan Langdon at CSKA when it was owned by Mikhail Prokhorov. And he was recruited to CSKA by Sergei Kushchenko, who was on the Nets board of directors until this season.