Firing Lionel Hollins may have been the right move for the Nets at the time, but it also may have cost the Nets their slim chance at landing one of this summer’s top free agents.
Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley is in Brooklyn for his lone game against the Nets this season, and before the season there were inklings that he’d be enticed by the possibility of reuniting with Hollins in the offseason.
But with Hollins gone, Conley admitted that made a big difference.
“It’s tough,” Conley told reporters Wednesday evening prior to Nets-Grizzlies. “But at the same time, like I said, I’ll give everybody their fair share, fair shot. With Lionel being here, obviously it was a big reason to look (at the Nets).”
The Nets were already a long shot for Conley, considering the team’s current 14-39 record and limited avenues to improve. He’s not making an about-face so much as locking a closed door.
“I want to win,” Conley added. “That’s what I want to do at the end of the day, wherever that may be. So hopefully when that time comes I’ll have a better vision on what I want and what I want going forward in the summer, but right now I’m all about winning, I want to be somewhere that’s committed to doing that.”
The 28-year-old ninth-year guard’s averaging 14.8 points, 6.1 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game, right around his career numbers as a starter. His normally-efficient shooting has experienced a slight downtick this year, as he’s hit a career-low 43.6 percent of his two-pointers, but he’s made up for it statistically with fewer turnovers and has the best on-off-court differential of any Grizzlies player.
Conley also admitted that he — like Nets center Brook Lopez — didn’t have the smoothest of beginnings with Hollins, and he wasn’t the only Grizzlies player to do so.
“Yeah, I’m not going to say I liked him when we first picked him up,” Conley said. “He’s very hard — a hard coach. He definitely gets on each and every person, and I think that’s what our team took away more so than anything, was he kept everybody accountable. It didn’t matter if you were a star or the last guy on the bench, he kept everybody the same. And that’s why he earned the respect from us.”
Quotes c/o Nets reporters