The Brooklyn Nets fired head coach Lionel Hollins and demoted long-time GM Billy King, and now must handle their hiring process in a different way.
By Chip Murphy
The Brooklyn Nets firing of Lionel Hollins and subsequent demotion of longtime GM Billy King won’t make an immediate impact, but it’s a move that was long overdue.
The Nets’ future is bleak to put it kindly and they need fresh faces. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov agrees.
Shakeup in Brooklyn: Nets have fired Lionel Hollins and GM Billy King has stepped down.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) January 10, 2016
He has “vowed to instill a winning culture” and “use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records,” per NY Times, which must be welcome words for Nets’ fans who have been watching a team they thought was hopeless since its move to Brooklyn.
It’s not like anyone was encouraged enough by the little life they showed in their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks last season to even go to the games. And when you can’t fill up the seats during the playoffs, it’s time for a change.
Seriously. There's no one here. pic.twitter.com/fWn4niiFka
— Brett Pollakoff (@BrettEP) April 25, 2015
It may seem premature to can Hollins in his second season, but he was clearly not the guy to turn things around. He’s an old-school disciplinarian who doesn’t relate well to his players and can’t grasp the concept of even the most basic of the changing NBA. Hollins was stuck in the past and chose to completely ignore analytics and the three-point shot, Brooklyn is 29th in 3-point attempt rate and 28th effective FG% in the league, per Basketball-Reference.com. It’s not all Hollins’ fault of course, Billy King didn’t give him a particularly special roster to work with.
Since King took over as boss back in 2010 he has made numerous questionable moves highlighted by the now infamous trade with the Boston Celtics where he gave up three first-round picks for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Brooklyn is still trying to recover from that awful trade that set their franchise back at least five years. Before the 2012-13 season, King gave Deron Williams a five-year, $100 million contract after completing a trade for Joe Johnson and his exorbitant salary. To sum up these two moves, let’s turn to the legendary Happy Gilmore.
The question isn’t whether or not Brooklyn made the right decision it’s, “what the hell took them so long?”
Billy King is one of the worst GMs in sports and the Hollins hire was his mistake in the first place, but instead the Nets let King run the organization into the ground. Brooklyn has made incredible mistakes in the last five years, it’s very important that they handle these hires with care because they are the most important in franchise history.
As usual when an NBA job opened up, John Calipari’s name has been linked to it with reports saying that Brooklyn is hiring him to not only be their head coach but to run their entire organization, which makes a ton of sense because of Calipari’s front office experience. The head coach-general manager combo is the worst choice that a team can make and the Nets would be making a terrible one if they gave that kind of power to John Calipari.
The legendary college head coach is currently at the University of Kentucky and did his typical song and dance when one of these reports emerges, saying he loves Kentucky and has a great job that he’s focused on, et cetera. The differences this time around are that Calipari reportedly already has salary demands, and his first time as Nets head coach was such a flop that his ego may require him to fix that mistake and cement his legacy with success at the professional level.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 11, 2016
John Calipari's asking price for a return to emperor's role in the NBA: 10 years, $120 million. Column. https://t.co/kQ1fMwRXCU
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) January 11, 2016
The Nets need to try something different when they go after the next people they put in charge. Going after big names with pedigrees who have had success is not the way to go here. Brooklyn needs to go under a massive rebuild and for that they need a budding star in the NBA coaching profession, a younger player’s coach who is capable of coaching a team that will need reassurance due to constant defeat. There are a few names that come to mind, that would fit well with a poor roster that needs time.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ associate head coach Tyronn Lue has interviewed for multiple head coaching positions already and is extremely well-respected among players in the league. After playing 11 seasons and winning two NBA championships, Lue is now in his seventh season as an assistant after spending his first five with Doc Rivers’ Celtics and Clippers teams. Lue will be a head coach at some point, it only makes sense for the Nets to make a serious run at him.
University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie played for 11 different franchises in 12 cities during his 13-year NBA career, making a name for himself as one of the league’s most well-respected journeyman. Ollie was a candidate for the Oklahoma City Thunder opening this past summer, and although he has no NBA coaching experience the Nets need to go after him.
There’s a wild card of course, Becky Hammon. The great Gregg Popovich himself has practically anointed her a worthy head coaching candidate and with his blessing why would the Nets hesitate? Hiring a Popovich disciple worked out pretty well for the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks, so it could be worth the risk. Brooklyn has nothing to lose.
It’s time for the Nets to do something different because shooting for the big name is nonsense. The John Calipari’s don’t deserve the job and the Tom Thibodeau’s won’t be interested, so Brooklyn needs a different strategy. The one they have been trying clearly isn’t working.