Nets remove King, Hollins, have long way to go


VIDEO: What’s next for Nets in wake of recent moves?

HANG TIME NEW YORK CITY — When Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the Brooklyn Nets in 2010, he promised fans that the team would win an NBA title within five years. Six years later, the Nets have collected no titles, and are currently floundering at 10-27.

And as of about an hour ago, the Brooklyn Nets no longer have a coach or general manager, either.

The Nets announced today that the team had “parted ways” with head coach Lionel Hollins and “reassigned” general manager Billy King. The interim head coach will be Tony Brown, who played a season for the Nets in ’86-87, and has been an NBA assistant coach for almost two decades. Brown becomes the Nets’ fifth coach in the last five seasons.

The Nets have been good over the last five seasons, making three consecutive playoff appearances, but they just weren’t good enough. During King’s tenure, the Nets never made it as far as the Eastern Conference finals, much less the NBA Finals. And that clearly wasn’t good enough for an owner with big-time aspirations.

“After careful consideration, I’ve concluded that it’s time for a fresh start and a new vision for the direction of the team,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “By making this decision now, it enables our organization to use the rest of the season to diligently evaluate candidates with proven track records. It’s clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership. With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching.”

King was Prokhorov’s first significant hire, and he aggressively attempted to fashion the Nets into a team capable of winning immediately and meeting Prokhorov’s championship edict. He traded valuable combinations of draft picks and players to bring in Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. After Avery Johnson presided over the team’s move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, King surprisingly hired Jason Kidd, who had no head coaching experience, but led the team to the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals. When Kidd departed following one season, King went pragmatic and brought in Lionel Hollins.

In his only other head coaching job, with the Memphis Grizzlies, Hollins established a reputation for connecting with veteran players. In nearly one and a half seasons with the Nets, Hollins compiled a 48-71 record. The veteran-heavy Nets roster seemed to be a logical landing spot for Hollins, and he guided last year’s team to a 38-44 regular season record and playoff berth, where the Nets pushed the Atlanta Hawks to six games before a first round exit. This season, without veterans such as Garnett and Deron Williams, the Nets attempted to get younger and more athletic, although a recent season-ending injury to Jarrett Jack seemed to curb whatever enthusiasm remained in the borough.

One thing about the Nets is certain: Whoever replaces King has their work cut out for them. Thanks to the Garnett/Pierce trade, the Nets don’t control their own first round pick until 2019, which would seem to make rebuilding through the draft nearly impossible. The Nets also don’t have much of trade value on their current roster, other than perhaps Brook Lopez or the injured rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, making it difficult to acquire other first round picks.

With the luxury tax figure rising the next two seasons, the Nets will have cap space to sign free agents, although almost every team in the NBA will also be able to exploit the cap space bonanza. The Nets have trumpeted their new practice facility, opening along the Brooklyn waterfront in February, as a positive for a franchise in need of good energy.

The Nets may have started from the bottom, and now they’re here. And while ownership tries to figure out a new route to relevance, only one thing is certain: For all of their sound and fury, the Nets still have a long way to go.

17 Comments

  1. Ed says:

    Tom Thibideau would be a good hire. His defense was extremely important to The Celtics and took a roster in Chicago that was struggling and turned them into contenders pretty quick. As a Celtics fan I hope they wait until the end of the year if he gets the job.

  2. Parad0x says:

    What about Tom Thibodeau as coach? They should also try their best to trade Lopez for a better defensive center and then just wait for Johnson’s contract to expire since no one would be interested in him anymore. Both are the weakest point in defense. A lot of players would choose more playing time than win as a bench player, it’s easier to find and develop Guards and Small Forwards than an effective Center. Hopefully the next GM will have an eye for hardwork & effort and not just talent. The best foundation of a player is defense. I would always choose Kawhi Leonard over any other player in the league right now. Heck I would even prefer D. Schroder in my team than Harden.

  3. Andreas Feilberg says:

    Billy King, Boston Celtic legend.

  4. pat c says:

    As a Celtics fan id like to thank the Russian for ben Simmons

  5. whiteman says:

    Hopefully they fired him to give him the opportunity to coach a good team. Hollins is a freaking wizard to have done this well with the nets. Not to mention creating that grizzly defense that went to the western conference finals.

    Everyone thought the nets would be as bad as the sixers in the preseason, but no… Hollins’ brilliance had them competitive even against teams like the dubs.

    The rockets should be begging this guy to go to Houston to teach the same defensive intensity that put Memphis on the map.

  6. Luis says:

    I am very happy for the health of the sport, that a guy coming from no where with a lot of money is getting the worst.

    What a destiny that tomorrow they will face one of the best franchise of the NBA, specially outside of the court.

    I cant explain how happy I am that guys like this cant destroy basketball as much as they are destroying soccer.

    Glad that all the work effort, work ethic pays off on top of this bastards…..sorry to hear about Collins great coach, wrong place.

  7. David says:

    Usually the first thing happen when a team is not wining ,management fires the coach. I mean look at the situation in cleavland cavaliers ,without king James ,they were nothing, so it’s not always the coach ,what you need in a team is very good chemistry,and trust ,and you have to give guys room to fail in order to get better.just think about removing jimmy butler,Dwayne wade,damiam lilliard,Westbrook ,Durant, kwaya Leonard,are these teams going to fires all these coaches to.

  8. The Schoowow says:

    Let’s face it, he’s not a coach, he’s a “MIKE”. Not fan of Nets, never been. With all the money they throw in, they could expect a little more than THIS. Can’t buy “C”s with just money. Start with bringing a real Coach

  9. Mike Y says:

    At least the owner is dumping the leadership now vs ‘too late’. Seems like they need a plan and focal point(s) vs just puting good players and cvoaches together. Hire a premier GM and sit back for a few years then ride the wave, or sell and buy something else.

  10. nick says:

    Another case of the coach getting fired because of a poor GM, but at least this situation the owner has the sense to fire the GM as well.

  11. Rosscoach says:

    The problem has been the owner who does not know what it takes to win in the NBA as evident of his 5 year title aspirations. If they are going to start over I suggest the go back to those Celtics and offer Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young for those first round picks they gave up in the Garnett trade and a bunch of the a Celtic’s talented rookies, namely Rozier, Hunter and Mickey and even Zeller. It would be a great quick reboot with young talent and picks to build around.

    • Josh T. says:

      Why on earth would the Celtics give up their draft picks for an injury prone center that they don’t need? Even though they made the playoffs, they are rebuilding. Those picks are too valuable, along with the young players they have.

  12. Wow. Nets fans should be breathing some sigh of relief. Change for this team was in evitable and in order to move forward, you keep doing the same thing and expect different results. It was time for Hollins to go. Now what are they going to do about Joe Johnson, who is financially hijacking this team with his inflated salary? I know it is not appealing for any top free agent to play there, but as they rebuild, there will always be basketball player who need a job, are willing to be the shining star there (because whoever it is, will be) and will have the benefit of a great coach. Because it looks like the owner is being very calculated in providing himself enough time to shop around for one. There are certainly a lot of unemployed coaches out their, maybe even reading up on this topic. Kevin McHale?

  13. Rob J. says:

    “The Nets may have started from the bottom, and now they’re here.”

    I see what you did there, Lang. Nice touch.