It was inevitable. Lionel Hollins, with his Nets 5-15 and the team now down its best perimeter defender, is starting to hear the whispers.
First it was Fran Blinebury of NBA.com, alleging that Hollins was one of a few NBA coaches the hot seat. A second, more unlikely, report out of Russia cited a source within the team that said Hollins would be fired once the team found his replacement. (That tends to, though not exclusively, work the other way around, and such reports were denied.)
But even the smoke has begun to billow around Hollins, he didn’t seem to mind.
“The seat’s always hot,” Hollins said after his team’s practice. “It was hot when I sat in it for the first time as a coach. It’s a hot seat. Whatever goes down in that regard, I have no control over that. I don’t even worry about it, I don’t think about it, I don’t read about it. When it happens, it’ll probably be a surprise when it does — if it happens. But it’s just a job.
“Every job you have, you’re hired to be fired, at some point,” Hollins said. “Whether you win 56 games as I [did] before, or you don’t win. It’s just the nature of this business, and reporters and bloggers and fans and everybody has their opinion about what should be done, what’s wrong. I have no control [of that]. All I can do is come to work every day and do my job. And when it’s over, if somebody calls me up and says, ‘you’re not here anymore,’ I pack my [expletive] up and I go home.”
The chatter comes on the heels of some troubling moments. The Nets currently have more losses than any other NBA team after leading by 10 or more points (six), the team currently ranks second-to-last in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. Hollins also recently dismissed the idea he could try to “analyze everything” when it came to some Nets losses.
It’s also difficult to understand if Hollins deserves credit or blame for the Nets’ struggles. The team suffered through a brutal November schedule and still competed enough to snake out five wins in a stretch where many predicted closer to zero. The roster is not exactly brimming with top-level NBA talent; its most exciting players have glaring weaknesses and most consistent players rarely amaze. If he deserves criticism for the team’s simplified schemes on both sides of the ball, he also likely deserves some measure of credit for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s rapid development.
Hollins is in the second year of a four-year contract, and this isn’t the first time the Nets have reportedly “evaluated” Hollins as part of their future. He lasted that mini-trial without much worry or fanfare. But it’s not clear what’s next for the Nets, how anyone in the organization fits into that vision, or what that vision might be.