The Nets are a mess. They’re mired in a 2-10 stretch, with the last two losses coming by a combined 74 points. They’re stuck between $90 million in rocks and a hard road to the playoffs. It’s led some in the Nets organization to turn inward, specifically looking at Nets coach Lionel Hollins, according to a report from ESPN.
Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk report, citing “league sources,” that the two losses in particular have “spark(ed) concern within the organization about whether Hollins’ message is getting through” to the players, and that the Nets are monitoring the situation closely:
Sources say locker-room tensions between the outspoken coach and some of his players are rising as the Nets continue to falter, with sources telling ESPNNY.com’s Mike Mazzeo that Hollins’ public criticism of various players this season — such as Lopez and fellow big man Mason Plumlee — has rankled ownership.
Having surrendered so many future assets to surround Williams with the likes of Johnson, Kevin Garnett and the since-departed Paul Pierce, Brooklyn is counting on making the playoffs this season to get something out of the highest payroll in the league. The Nets are paying in excess of $90 million in salaries this season and don’t have total control over a first-round pick until 2019.
Meanwhile, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reports that the Nets deny the turmoil, adding that they have “no intention” of firing Hollins:
Lionel Hollins job is safe with Brooklyn, multiple league sources tell http://t.co/4CvkoWUQmZ. Nets have no intention of firing Hollins.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) January 27, 2015
Including interim coaches, Hollins is the team’s sixth coach in as many years, and the fourth since the team moved to Brooklyn in 2012. He is in the first year of a four-year contract, the fourth year a team option.
The report doesn’t say that Hollins is in danger of losing his job, just that management worries that Hollins isn’t connecting with the players, and that the Nets are evaluating “various facets” of their organization.
The Nets are already trying to shed their biggest contracts, looking to make at least one trade before the February 19th deadline to shake up their stagnant roster, and that may be easier than getting rid of Hollins and finding yet another coach mid-stream.