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Nets filling out coaching staff, land Kevin Ollie and Ronnie Burrell as assistant coaches

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The Brooklyn Nets are filling out their coaching staff. First, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Kevin Ollie, the former NBA player and NCAA-winning UConn coach, will be joining Jacque Vaughn’s staff as an assistant...

That was a bit of a surprise. The Nets are hiring Ollie after he lost out on the Pistons head coach job. Detroit hired Monty Williams instead.

What was not a surprise is the tweet from Michael Scotto that Brooklyn was promoting Ronnie Burrell from head coach of the Long Island Nets to an assistant’s gig at Barclays Center.

The Nets now have six assistant coaches backing up Vaughn: Ollie, Burrell, the recently hired Jay Hernandez, who was previously with Charlotte plus returning assistants Adam Caporn, Ryan Forehan-Kelly and Trevor Hendry. The Nets did not renew contracts for Igor Kokoskov, Tiago Splittler and Brian Keefe for next season. Also, Royal Ivey left the Nets for a new assistant job in Houston. At the beginning of last season, before Vaughn replaced Steve Nash, the Nets had eight assistants which would suggest the Nets still have another three assistant positions to fill. (Peter Botte of the New York Post reported that the Nets owe Nash $9 million on his contract for this season.)

Ollie and Vaughn played high school ball in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

A point guard, Ollie played with 11 NBA teams, including a short stint with the New Jersey Nets in 2000, retiring in 2010. He was named UConn head coach in 2012, winning the NCAA championship two years later. By 2018, he was out of a job in Storrs following an NCAA report on his compliance with the association’s rules. He later sued UConn and was awarded $3.9 million in a settlement.

On April 12, 2021, Overtime Elite announced Ollie’s hiring as head of coaching and basketball development. While with Overtime, he coached the two Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar, both of whom are seen as top 10 picks in the June 22 NBA Draft. The Atlanta-based program has become a premier feeder program for pro basketball.

The progam, in fact, confirmed Woj’s report with this tweet...

Ollie spent most his 13 seasons in the NBA as a bench player but during his final season with the Thunder. many in the organization credited him with creating the OKC culture that led the team to the NBA Finals in 2012. Kevin Durant was a huge fan of Ollie’s time with OKC.

“Kevin Ollie, he was a game changer for us” Durant told Grantland. “I think he changed the whole culture in Oklahoma City. Just his mind set, professionalism, every single day. And we all watched that, and we all wanted to be like that. It rubbed off on Russell Westbrook, myself, Jeff Green, James Harden.”

Before that, the Cavaliers brought him on to help with LeBron James development.

“We thought he could come in and be a bridge for us at the point guard position,” Jim Paxson, Cleveland’s GM at the time, recalled, “and also be a good influence on our younger players, the primary one being LeBron James.”

While at UConn, Ollie had a record of 127–79. Although no current Nets players played at UConn, two of the Liberty’s stars, Breanna Stewart and Stephanie Dolson, both played for the UConn women’s team coached by Geno Auriemma while Ollie was men’s coach.

Burrell had a hugely successful debut with Long island this season, leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals after posting the league’s second best record and winning 16 straight games, just three short of the G League record. He was named G League coach of the year as well as coach of the month twice.

Burrell was named head coach after a varied career in the G League. He served Long Island as an assistant coach for the 2019-20 season as an assistant coach. Before that, he had spent the 2018-19 season as a player development and video assistant in Brooklyn. He spent the 2021-22 season as an assistant coach with the College Park Skyhawks in the G League and 2022-23 as a player development coordinator with the Chicago Bulls.

Before joining the Nets in 2018, Burrell worked as a graduate assistant with the men’s basketball program at Florida Atlantic University while earning his Master of Business Administration. The Montclair, N.J., native previously played 11 professional seasons (2005-2016) in France, Germany and Poland after a four-year collegiate playing career (2001-05) at UNC Greensboro.

There has been no official announcement yet on the hires.

It was a busy day for coaching news, as Woj reported. James Young, Monty Williams’ assistant in Phoenix, will stay on with the Suns under Frank Vogel as associate head coach earning $2 million a year, a record for an assistant. Terry Stotts, former head coach of the Blazers, is joining new head coach Adrian Griffin’s staff in Milwaukee. Also, James Borrego, the former Hornets head coach, signed on as the top assistant with the Pelicans. Jake Fischer reported that Borrego was “in the mix with Brooklyn.”