What do you know about your Brooklyn Nets’ coaching staff? If your answer is “not much,” you’ve come to the right place.
Lionel Hollins’s staff includes Paul Westphal, John Welch, Tony Brown, Joe Wolf, Jay Humphries, and Jim Sann. Two of Hollins’ staff members (Welch and Sann) have been retained from last year’s staff under Jason Kidd. None of these staff members worked previously for the Memphis Grizzlies under Hollins. The staff includes a knowledgeable group through decades of both coaching and playing careers that appear to complement the Nets’ veteran roster heading into next season. Let’s meet each of Hollins’ new assistants.
Paul Westphal (Lead Assistant)
Most recently the head coach of the Sacramento Kings, Westphal assumes the lead assistant role under new Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. Westphal’s career dates back to his playing days with the Boston Celtics, where he won an NBA championship in 1974.
His 12-year playing career came to a close in 1985, but only after his 5 NBA All-Star appearances and 3 All-NBA First Team honors. Westphal’s coaching career immediately followed, eventually coaching 3 different NBA teams (Suns, Supersonics, and Kings) before joining Hollins in Brooklyn. His career is highlighted by coaching a 62-win Phoenix team (led by Charles Barkley) to the NBA Finals where they met Michael Jordan and the Bulls, losing in six games.
Hollins’ lead assistant, who coached a Nets preseason game in China when Hollins was out sick, comes loaded with 30 years of NBA experience both as a coach and player. While his tenure in Sacramento was cut short after just 7 games during the 2011-2012 season, his experience will be more relied on in Brooklyn as opposed to his ability to develop young talent – a solid fit under Hollins and with the Nets’ current roster.
John Welch (Assistant)
Welch is entering his ninth season as an NBA assistant, previously having coached in Denver under George Karl from 2005-2013 before coaching under Jason Kidd’s first (and last) season with the Nets in 2013. Welch was viewed as the “offensive head coach” under Kidd, while Hollins is viewed as more of a defensive-minded coach. Expect Welch’s role from last year to carry over into 2014 as the one primarily responsible for designing an offensive gameplan and finding overall efficiency on the offensive end.
Tony Brown (Assistant)
With the 82nd pick in the 1982 NBA Draft, the New Jersey Nets selected Tony Brown out of the University of Arkansas. A true journeyman, Brown’s playing career began in the CBA (Continental Basketball Association) with the Ohio Mixers and ended in Italy with Reggio Emilia 10 years and 12 teams later. Brown brings with him to Brooklyn over 10 years of assistant coaching experience. Notable head coaches he has coached under include: Doc Rivers, Mike Dunleavy, and Rick Carlisle. According to the Boston Globe, Brown was categorized as the “defensive coordinator” during his stint in Boston under Doc Rivers from 2004-2006.
Joe Wolf (Assistant)
Wolf was a lottery pick selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1987 NBA Draft (13th overall) who ended up averaging just 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game over an 11-year NBA playing career. Wolf’s coaching career began at the College of William and Mary where he was the assistant coach for two years. Head coaching experience with the Idaho Stampede of the CBA and Colorado 14ers of the D-League followed. Wolf, who’s now entering his 6th season as an assistant coach, spent his first 5 seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks from 2008-2013. During his tenure, Wolf coached under three different head coaches – most notably, Scott Skiles. It wasn’t until after Jason Kidd was hired by the Bucks did Joe Wolf lose his job in Milwaukee. (I’m smiling, are you?)
Jay Humphries (Assistant)
Drafted in 1984, Humphries is the second 13th overall selection in the NBA draft on Hollins’ staff. He played from 1984-1995 with the Suns, Bucks, Jazz, and Celtics, averaging 11.1 points and 5.5 assists per game. His coaching career began overseas as an associate head coach in the Chinese Basketball Association in 2001. He also has head coaching experience in the Korean Professional Basketball League, and comes with some experience coaching in the D-League and as an assistant in the NBA.
Jim Sann (Assistant/Advance Scout)
Entering his second season on the Nets’ staff, Sann was retained by Hollins after Jason Kidd’s departure. Sann has held various positions throughout the league with various teams, including some time coaching at the college level. Some of his NBA positions assistant coach in Toronto (2003-2004), advanced scout in Houston (2004-2005), coaching associate with the Nets (2005-2010), and video coordinator with the Bulls (2010-2012).