Why Lionel Hollins Should Not Be the Next Brooklyn Nets Head Coach


Lionel Hollins

Now that the Memphis Grizzlies’ season is over, the Brooklyn Nets can really begin their head coaching search. Lionel Hollins, who coached the Grizzlies last season, will be a coaching free agent starting July 1st, although the Grizzlies may allow him to talk to other teams before then if they wish. Hollins does not have a great relationship with the Memphis front office, although it is clear he gets along well with the core of his roster.

Many have said that it makes sense for him to come to the Nets. He will be given a better fan base, a richer ownership, and players with higher salaries. However, if he came to the Nets he would be leaving a team that just made the western conference finals to go to a team that couldn’t get out of the first round in the east. He would also be under much more pressure in Brooklyn than he ever was in Memphis.

I believe that Hollins is not a great fit in Brooklyn, even though I think he could be a pretty good coach in the right situation. Here are some reasons why.

The Nets are not a “grit and grind” team. 

Memphis is famous for their “grit and grind” style of play. They aren’t very talented on offense and don’t make a lot of 3’s, but they make up for that by hustling on defense and going hard after every rebound. Although the Nets have a couple of players who would fit that system well, the majority do not. Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans would probably thrive in a Hollins-system. But players like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez, the 3 best players on the team, are more finesse players who are very talented offensively. I don’t think Hollins is a great coach for them.

Lack of offensive creativity. 

I think the Nets need a coach who will take them away from their isolations and be a real master of passing. Hollins is not one of those coaches. With the talent the Nets have, who should every offensive basket look almost painful as it did in Memphis. When the Nets were playing well last year, they were getting lots of easy baskets, and that’s what the new coach needs to create more of. In Hollins’ offense in Memphis, he often went to isos when nothing else worked. For example, Tayshaun Prince took way too many shots in the playoffs. Also, before Rudy Gay was traded, the Grizzlies just iso’ed him when nothing else was working. I’m afraid that if he became coach of the Nets, Joe Johnson would have even more isos than he did this year.

Wins in a previous location don’t guarantee wins with Nets. 

When the Nets hired Avery Johnson 3 years ago, he had the best winning percentage as a coach in NBA history after his excellent regular season run with the Mavericks. However, this did not translate to wins with the Nets. It is always better to find a young, inexperienced head coach that has new ideas and can become the head coach for a long time than essentially steal somebody else’s coach away.

Expect more news from the Nets on their coaching search in the coming weeks, especially when Brian Shaw and Indiana are eliminated from the playoffs.