Lionel Hollins

Lionel Hollins (AP)

New Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins released a statement through the team about his new gig and the challenges he faces:
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We actually had a close Summer League game! ... Almost.

After one good blowout and one bad blowout, the Brooklyn Nets summer squad played mostly even with the Oklahoma City Thunder, before a barrage of three-pointers from Thunder guard Mario Little started a run that the Nets couldn't overcome and sent them to a 98-84 loss Monday night.

The Nets won the first quarter, giving them one point in the Summer League standings. The Thunder won the second, third, and fourth quarters, giving them seven points. Both the Nets and Thunder are now 1-2 in Orlando Summer League.

As usual: we take nothing predictive from these games. They're barely controlled chaos at a D-League level with YMCA-esque organization. We're basically watching But here's some instant reflections & reactions:

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Kevin Durant, Gasper Vidmar, Bojan Bogdanovic

Bogdanovic helping up Kevin Durant in a 2013 exhibition. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets will agree to terms on a three-year deal worth the taxpayer mid-level exception for Bojan Bogdanovic, according to Ohm Youngmusik of ESPN.
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The scene on the jumbotron looked oddly familiar.

The scene on the jumbotron looked oddly familiar, but little else did.

It was much more a press conference than it was a celebration. The remnants of the past season were still there: "HELLO COACH!" stuck around as the mantra, and Barclays Center's oculus sported an enormous picture of Lionel Hollins, the new Brooklyn Nets head coach. But the welcoming was media-only and occurred in the interview room down in Barclays Center's basement, not in the atrium entrance with fans and streamers. There was no applause when he walked out. This wasn't a welcome "home" like last season, this was purely an introduction.

Some at the press conference in the organization privately joked that the Nets coach introduction was becoming an annual event. But they did their best to fix the little things, in the hopes that they wouldn't do this again next year. First-time coach? Nope. History with the franchise? None. Power-hungry point guard? Pass (figuratively speaking). Instead, they went back to the guy with a track record for motivating players.

"When I look at this team, I look at some veteran players that can score and some young guys that are coming up that need to be developed," Hollins said. "When we start talking about style, I need to sit down and see from watching tape, just exactly what we're going to do."

Hollins brings a 214-201 lifetime record after three separate stints coaching the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies. He's an old-school coach, who talks more about Cotton Fitzsimmons and being an empty nester than analytics or new trends. He says he received over 150 text messages on the day the hiring was announced. "I don't know how many of you have my cell number, but best bet it will be changed," he joked.

The process went rapidly. Hollins met with general manager Billy King and assistant GM's Bobby Marks and Frank Zanin twice, for dinner on June 30th and lunch the next day. The first meeting was more about "getting to know each other," and Tuesday they got into the brass tacks: X's and O's and strategies for how Hollins would best implement a system with this roster. By the end of the day Wednesday, the two sides had a multi-year agreement in principle to make Hollins the new coach.

"Just watching him on the board -- you can run this for Brook Lopez, or you could do this with Deron. Or how would you play pick-and-roll on this?" King said. "When you threw questions at him, he had answers."

"I'm here to try to develop a consistent championship contender," Hollins added.

Consistency and stability are desperately needed in the Nets coaching ranks: they've had three coaches in the last two seasons, including interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Hollins replaces Jason Kidd, who coached the Nets to a 44-38 record and a second-round exit before leaving to coach the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd, whose jersey hangs in the rafters after his exploits as a player helped the Nets reach back-to-back NBA Finals, reportedly sought more power in the Nets organization, usurping Billy King's role overseeing basketball operations, and was denied by the front office.

Hollins, perhaps unintentionally, threw one subtle jab in Kidd's direction. "I'm a basketball coach. I don't want to to Billy's job," Hollins said. "I don't want to do anyone else's job in the organization but the one that I'm hired to do. And that's important to me. I'm very low maintenance."

"I'm actually embarrassed. I drove up and saw the big billboard with my picture on it, I'm like, come on. I just want to coach."

King had put Hollins high on his list already after interviewing him last season. He spoke with Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, as well as owner Jerry West, who both gave him high recommendations. After speaking with Hollins, it didn't take long before he was convinced.

"The one thing that always stood out about Lionel is his teams, they win," King said. "When Rudy Gay got hurt, they won. When Zach got hurt, they won. It reminds me a bit of (Chicago Bulls coach Tom) Thibodeau, that no matter who's playing, they played a certain way. When we played Memphis, we knew it was going to be a dogfight."

Hollins didn't start off as a winner. He was fired multiple times in Memphis, and didn't record a winning record in his first three seasons coaching the team. But his teams in Memphis had a better winning percentage in every season Hollins coached, including the two best winning percentages in Grizzlies franchise history, before Hollins was let go following a 56-26 season.

So gone were the pomp and circumstance of a year prior, but the message was the same: they're looking to build a championship contender from day one, under a coach they trust to get the job done.

More notes:

  • No update on the status of Bojan Bogdanovic or Paul Pierce. The Nets acquired Bogdanovic during the 2011 NBA Draft and can offer him the taxpayer mid-level exception, which they reportedly did last season before getting Andrei Kirilenko on board. Bogdanovic is a free agent and would not need to opt out of an overseas contract. King & Hollins also watched film of Bogdanovic during their meeting last week. The Nets have a financial advantage with re-signing Pierce, but it's not clear if they're willing to pay the excess tax.

  • Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, who both recently had surgery, are progressing as usual. Lopez is doing non-contact workouts.

  • There is no timetable for figuring out Hollins's staff. He has already gotten a few no's.


The Brooklyn Nets introduced Lionel Hollins as their new head coach today at a press conference in the Ortsbo Interview Room at Barclays Center. Here's a snippet from his statements, on what to expect going forward from the Hollins-led team.


- Box Score -

The Nets came into today's game with six points and ended it with the same amount. Miami won every quarter and the game-- good for a clean sweep of all eight points. Brooklyn's blowout wasn't from a lack of effort as the Nets aggressively tried to keep up with the Heat's torrid shooting. James Ennis dropped 29 points on 10-12 shooting with 7 threes.

Other thoughts and quotes:

-- Kendall Gill, before tip: “I saw Mason Plumlee do things the great Hakeem Olajuwan did.” Again, wasting no time with the Hall of Famer comparisons, luckily.

Matt Winer: “If Plumlee is coming down around me, I’m covering everything I’ve got. He’s a big, big guy.”

After throwing down a huge alley-oop from Thames, Gill said: "He’s a gazelle." Less than a minute later, Gill followed it up by exclaiming: "He's a horse."  It appears more and more as if Gill’s compliments only come in the form of NBA Legends and common wildlife. Plumlee finished with 18 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 2 steals.

-- The Nets allowed three offensive rebounds in the first 2 minutes of the game to officially mark their return to a sub-par team on the boards. In fact, Brooklyn would go on to finish the quarter with zero rebounds. Where are you, Reggie Evans?

-- Marquis Teague looks like he’s ready to accept the Nets’ Annual Summer League Award for Most Frantic Point Guard That Reminds You Too Much Of Tyshawn Taylor. Teague played aggressively and pushed the ball, totaling equal amounts of good baskets and bad turnovers.

-- For the second straight game, Donte Greene impressed on both sides of the ball and finished with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal. If Greene is signed at the end of the summer, it wouldn’t surprise me. Remember, Donte Greene almost signed with the Nets a few years ago before he broke his foot.

-- With a minute left in the first quarter, Jorge Gutierrez went to the locker room following a double team near mid-court. Gutierrez bruised his ribs and did not return.

-- Markel Brown continued to impress with his court vision and passing. He hasn’t had a wild, explosive game yet like Caldwell-Pope or  Napier—but it always feels like it’s lurking just underneath the surface for Brown. He’ll be a fun one to watch in 2014.

-- Nick Minnerath hit four 3s and forced a shot clock violation in nearly 13 minutes of action. He’s a long shot to make the team, but in a game where the Nets largely struggled from outside the paint, Minnerath helped keep this one from getting even uglier.

The Nets play again tomorrow against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7pm on NBATV.


Jason Kidd explained to Bucks fans why he chose Milwaukee in a statement released on the Milwaukee Bucks Twitter account yesterday:
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Without some combination of first-round picks and/or Clippers guard J.J. Redick, any sign-and-trade talks involving Paul Pierce and Los Angeles are likely to go "nowhere," according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
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That was quick and easy. In the opening game of Orlando Summer League -- taking place at 9 A.M. the day after Independence Day -- the Brooklyn Nets summer squad led wire-to-wire in an easy victory over the Indiana Pacers, 101-81.

- Box Score -

The Nets get six "points" in the Summer League standings: four for winning the game, and one each for winning the first and second quarters.

Remember, Summer League is mostly for show. It's a fun week of basketball for a combination of guys that have just made it to the league or are trying to claw in and find a niche somewhere. Most of these guys (save their draft picks and players under contract) won't ever play a minute for Brooklyn, but one or two might, and that's what we're looking for here.

So rather than give you a full recap of a game whose outcome was both never really in doubt and never really important, here's a few notes about people you should care about:
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Markel Brown

Nets draftee Markel Brown is on the team's Summer League roster. (AP)

Below is the Brooklyn Nets Orlando Summer League Schedule. All games are broadcast on NBA TV, or you can buy the NBA Summer League Live App for $14.99 to watch on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. The app is free for the first day.

The Nets will rotate coaches after Jason Kidd's departure from the team last week. Click here for the Nets Summer League Roster.
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Victor Oladipo, Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson (AP)

Ever wonder how Joe Johnson seemingly doesn't age? He's got nearly 40,000 minutes on his NBA odometer, almost 6,000 in the last two seasons (including playoffs), and just turned 33 last week. Only 5 guys in NBA history have more minutes than Johnson through the age of 32: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Dirk Nowitzki.

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