Lionel Hollins

Atlantic Notes: Joseph, McHale, D-League

Cory Joseph has exceeded all expectations that the Raptors had for him when they inked him to a four-year, $30MM deal this offseason, Josh Lewenberg of writes. “When you do these things, you try to get good players and you try to figure out,” said GM Masai Ujiri of Joseph. “You do your scouting, you do your analytics, and you try to figure out if the team will fit together. But honestly, until they start playing, we [don’t know]. When we looked at it, we tried to look at two-way players who bring us some kind of toughness and that’s what he is. He’s a two-way player that will pick up the ball full court and put pressure on opposing guards. He knows how to fight people and make people better and score a little bit too. So you hope that it translates to the basketball court.

Coach Dwane Casey is also a fan of Joseph’s, but he also admits the play of the 24-year-old playmaker has exceeded expectation, Lewenberg adds. “He has [been a pleasant surprise],” said Casey. “His energy, his toughness wasn’t a surprise but it’s really been glaring. He’s really filled in. I didn’t know how much we could play the two [point] guards together but he plays bigger than he is. He’s not the typical point guard, he can guard twos, he can get down there and wrestle with some threes. If he gets switched off he gets into the big guys’ knees and boxes them out. So he is better than expected.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would like to bring former teammate and fired Rockets coach Kevin McHale to the Celtics in some capacity, even if it’s just in a consultant’s role, Ainge told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The Mavericks are also interested, league sources said to Marc Stein of
  • The Nets have respect for the coaching of Randy Ayers, whom they recently hired as a scout, though team officials say the organization doesn’t regard him as a coach-in-waiting in case Lionel Hollins is fired, reports Chris Mannix of
  • The Celtics have assigned Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier and James Young to the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Sloan, Fisher, Sixers

Donald Sloan knew at this point last season that his salary was guaranteed, and he went on to put up career-best numbers across for the Pacers, but now he is one of seven on the 20-man Nets roster without a full guarantee. He’s nonetheless confident, and Nets coach Lionel Hollins is high on the point guard’s ability, too, observes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.

“I thought Donald Sloan’s athleticism, size and quickness could help us,” Hollins said. “We’re looking for a third guard, and he was a guy that was out there that showed a little bit of tenacity and toughness, as well as athleticism and quickness.”

Bontemps suggests that Sloan, who has a partial guarantee of $50K, is fighting for the third point guard job, and ostensibly a regular season roster spot, with rookie Ryan Boatright, who has a $75K partial guarantee. See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It was a plane issue that kept Knicks coach Derek Fisher from making it back to New York from Los Angeles for Monday’s practice, not his alleged scrap with Matt Barnes, Fisher contended Thursday, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Fisher added that he’s spoken with his boss, team president Phil Jackson, about what happened. The coach drew criticism for his absence from work.
  • Nerlens Noel and new addition Jahlil Okafor experienced some growing pains Thursday as they failed to mesh as well as they had two nights before, and Sixers coach Brett Brown admitted, “We’re going to have this conversation for a while, growing these two guys,” observes Tom Moore of Calkins Media.
  • Brown expects Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten to miss at least the next month as they continue to recover from their injuries, Moore notes in the same piece, further jumbling the point guard picture for the Sixers, who have six point guards on their preseason roster.

Eastern Rumors: Williams, Knicks, Dragic

Lionel Hollins denies that his sometimes stormy relationship with Deron Williams led to the Nets waiving the veteran guard in a buyout deal, according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Though sources confirmed to Bontemps that the head coach and Williams had a heated meeting in Memphis earlier this year, Hollins said the Nets didn’t part ways with Williams because of their disagreements. “Everything is not peaches and cream, but there’s not one shred of evidence that our relationship is the reason that he had to go,” Hollins told the team’s beat writers. “I would have coached Deron this upcoming year just like I coached him last year, and we would have went forward just like everybody else on the team.” The Nets saved more than $50MM this season in payroll and luxury-tax payments by agreeing to give Williams $27.5MM of the $43.5MM he was owed over the next two years, Bontemps adds. The Nets used the stretch provision on the buyout.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:
  • Carmelo Anthony‘s decision to take slightly less than the max last summer helped the Knicks to re-sign Lou Amundson and Lance Thomas to more than the league minimum this month, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Anthony’s deal opened up $1.4MM in cap space this summer and that, combined with the NBA’s cap increase to $70MM, allowed the Knicks to secure Amundson for $1.65MM and Thomas for $1.63MM instead of the roughly $1MM minimum, Berman continues. If Anthony didn’t take less, the Knicks could have re-signed only one of them above the league minimum, Berman adds.
  • Goran Dragic‘s deal with the Heat is only worth a total of $85MM and has a starting salary of $14.783MM, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter). Earlier reports estimated the deal at $90MM.
  • Paul George is pleased with the backcourt moves the Pacers have made this offseason, he told Scott Agness of the in a Q&A session. The pending addition of Monta Ellis and re-signing of Rodney Stuckey gives the team numerous playmakers, George told Agness. “One of the biggest things we needed to get better at was pushing the tempo and playing a little faster,” George said. “I didn’t know it was going to be a drastic roster change but I knew that was the direction this team needed to go to give ourselves a better chance of winning.”

Atlantic Notes: King, Thomas, Ainge, Young

The Nets will be almost certainly be picking 29th thanks to their pick swap with the Hawks as called for in the Joe Johnson trade, but it would appear to be in keeping with owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s philosophy.

“If you analyze a championship team, 20% is draft picks and 80% of it is trades,” Prokhorov said to reporters Wednesday, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).

Prokhorov expressed comfort with GM Billy King and praised his “bold” approach, Prokhorov also said, complimenting coach Lionel Hollins, too, seemingly indicating that both will be back next season, writes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. We passed along more from Prokhorov’s chat with the media earlier today, and there’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Lance Thomas has started 33 games this season and 20 with the Knicks, earning praise from team president Phil Jackson, and the New Jersey native signaled a desire to re-sign with New York in unrestricted free agency this summer. Thomas made his remarks in a video interview with Jonah Ballow of“My experience as a Knick has been great, and I hope it doesn’t end,” Thomas said. “This is my hometown team, and I would love to represent New York, so I’m going to do everything in my power to hopefully make that happen.”
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is impressed with how his roster has performed after all the trades he pulled off, as Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe details. Ainge named soon-to-be free agents Jae Crowder and Brandon Bass among several he believes have excelled.
  • The Kevin Garnett/Thaddeus Young trade has been a steal for the Nets, argues Daniel LoGuidice of NetsDaily, who believes the arrival of Young, and not the resurgence of Brook Lopez, was the true catalyst for Brooklyn’s late-season run for a playoff spot. Bontemps, writing in a separate piece, believes Young’s on-court presence has helped Lopez operate so effectively. Young hasn’t decided on his player option for next season but has said he wants to remain in Brooklyn.

Nets Rumors: Chemistry, Changes, Prokhorov

Poor chemistry has led to a disappointing season for the Nets, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post writes. Injuries and underachieving players have forced coach Lionel Hollins to constantly tinker with his rotation, leading to 17 different lineup changes, Bontemps adds. “[Chemistry is] very fragile,” Hollins said to the team’s beat reporters. “You constantly have to work at it, and adversity is the first thing that can kill chemistry. You have a little adversity and something happens and it splits, and then you have to get it back. It’s a time-consuming thing to get chemistry, and then you have some success and you have a little more adversity and then it goes back again. It’s hard to define why. You just have it, or you don’t.”

In other news concerning the Nets:

  • The team’s management plans to revamp the roster to bring in younger, more athletic players, according to a story on the team’s official website GM Billy King promised season-ticket holders in a conference call on Thursday that roster changes were coming this summer. “I think it could turn around really quickly,” King said in the call. “We’re going to explore every option to continue to add some athleticism so we can be a better defensive team, become a more athletic team, so we can get out and run. That’s the plan. We’ll look and explore every option. There will be no stone unturned as we go forward.”
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is no longer seeking to sell a majority interest in the team, according to Josh Kosman and Claire Atkinson of the New York Post. Negotiations to sell the team never became serious because of uncertainty over Prokhorov’s interest in also selling the rights to Barclays Center, sources told the Post. Prokhorov is now actively shopping a minority interest in the team that does not include a sale of the arena, the Post adds. Evercore Partners, an investment banking firm Prokhorov hired to help facilitate a prospective sale of the team, made the decision to end their relationship with the Nets.
  • Prokhorov recently quit the Russian political party he founded, Civil Platform, and his motivation may have included his desire to protect foreign assets such as the Nets, according to an story. A relatively new Russian law that prevents senior officials and legislators from possessing foreign bank accounts and securities could have spurred Prokhorov’s decision, the story reveals.

Atlantic Notes: Garnett, Hollins, Raptors, Knicks

Grantland’s Zach Lowe suggests that Kevin Garnett will be the subject of trade discussions between now and the deadline. The 20th-year vet is appealing to teams looking for a either bench upgrade, an expiring contract or both, according to Lowe, identifying the Warriors, Hornets and Raptors in that group. However, it doesn’t appear from Lowe’s report that those teams are indeed going after Garnett, who has one of the NBA’s few true no-trade clauses. There’s more on the Nets amid the latest from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets GM Billy King denies that Lionel Hollins‘ job is in jeopardy in the wake of a report that the team had upped its scrutiny of the coach, observes Johnette Howard of“I don’t know where that story came from about Lionel, but it’s not true,” King said. That report indicated that Hollins’ criticisms of Nets players had rankled ownership, but King says he likes the coach’s demanding approach, Howard writes.
  • Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said Thursday that he’s always listening to trade proposals but added that he doesn’t have a lot going on for now, notes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. The team has reportedly been looking for an upgrade at power forward and has been linked to David West, Taj Gibson and Kenneth Faried.
  • Langston Galloway says he received “pretty significant” offers from multiple European teams but turned them down to play with New York’s D-League affiliate this season, as he tells Chris Mannix of, who writes in his Open Floor column. The Knicks signed Galloway out of the D-League last month to a pair of 10-day contracts before inking him to a multiyear pact.
  • If the Triangle Offense fails to work for the Knicks by next season and Phil Jackson continues to insist that coach Derek Fisher use it, that puts Fisher in a compromising position not just in New York but for any coaching job he’d want to take in the future, opines Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal.
  • The Celtics have recalled Phil Pressey from the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link). Pressey’s first career assignment to the D-League lasted but one day, long enough for him to record 34 points, nine assists and six turnovers in a single game for Boston’s affiliate.

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Nets, Stoudemire, Drew

Phil Jackson‘s hints to Harvey Araton of The New York Times that his stay as Knicks president might not be a lengthy one lead Baxter Holmes of to wonder if the door is ajar for a return of the Zen Master to the Lakers, where Jim Buss is on a three-year timetable to succeed. Still, Jackson told Brian Lewis of the New York Post within the past week that “I’ve kind of just divorced myself from them,” in reference to the Lakers, so it seems a purple-and-gold reunion is almost certainly not in the cards. Here’s more from Jackson’s current division:

  • Trade rumors have swirled around Brook Lopez, and a recent report cast some doubt about the long-term job security of coach Lionel Hollins, but Lopez and Hollins have begun to forge a better working relationship, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News details. Hollins’ public criticism of Lopez and others had bothered Nets ownership, as sources recently told Mike Mazzeo of
  • Amar’e Stoudemire said today that he doesn’t anticipate he’ll be traded this year, and that while he hasn’t had a conversation with the Knicks front office about a future with the team beyond this season, he expects one to take place soon, observes Adam Zagoria of
  • Larry Drew II‘s 10-day contract with the Sixers expires tonight, but coach Brett Brown made it plain Tuesday that he’s a fan of the point guard, notes Tom Moore of Calkins Media (Twitter link). Drew is on his second 10-day arrangement with Philadelphia, so any subsequent deal between the sides would have to cover the rest of the season.
  • Sources tell Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia that former Knicks guard Chris Smith is headed to play for KB Peja in Kosovo. The Knicks signed Smith, the brother of J.R. Smith, to a minimum-salary contract with a fully guaranteed salary for last season, but they waived him a little more than two months into 2013/14.

Nets Ownership Ups Scrutiny Of Lionel Hollins?

WEDNESDAY, 10:33am: Hollins didn’t seem to worried about his job when he answered a question from Newsday’s Roderick Boone about the report (Twitter links).

“Why wouldn’t the team be evaluating me? Now if you are talking about evaluating me like I’m doing something bad and all that … ,” Hollins said. “Whoever wrote the article, it’s his opinion. All I can do is coach.”

6:41pm: The Nets aren’t looking to fire Hollins, a source tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link), asserting that Stein and Youngmisuk’s report is “totally false.”

MONDAY, 4:46pm: Nets officials are taking a close took at the job performance of coach Lionel Hollins amid concern about the team’s recent slide, report Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk of Tension between Hollins and some of his players is escalating, Stein and Youngmisuk hear, and sources tell Mike Mazzeo of for the same story that Hollins’ public criticism of his players has upset people at the ownership level of the club. Principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns 80% of the franchise, is reportedly looking to sell his interest in the team while trade talk swirls around Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, Brooklyn’s three most highly paid players.

The Nets last week became the fifth team in NBA history to lose consecutive games by 35 or more, as Stein and Youngmisuk point out, and Brooklyn has fallen a half-game behind Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Hollins is in just the first season of a four-year deal to coach the team, and according to the ESPN scribes, the contract would be worth more than $20MM if Hollins triggers incentives and if the team exercises a fourth-year option. However, it seems that Hollins’ approach, featuring a healthy does of brutal honesty, is quickly wearing thin on some within the Nets.

Hollins got along quite well with Mike Conley and Zach Randolph in his last job as coach of the Grizzlies, according to Stein and Youngmisuk. However, Hollins failed to see eye-to-eye with a new management team at the end of his tenure with Memphis, which let him go in 2013 even though he had just led the franchise to the only conference finals appearance in its history. The 61-year-old is 232-227 in parts of eight seasons as an NBA head coach, including this year’s 18-26 mark with the Nets. Prokhorov and his advisers ultimately decided to keep former coach Jason Kidd for the duration of last season after entertaining the idea of letting him go, as Stein and Youngmisuk note. Kidd and the club eventually had an acrimonious split in the summer, clearing the way for Hollins to come aboard.

Western Notes: Rockets, Thunder, McLemore

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said he won’t judge coach Kevin McHale merely by how far the team goes in the playoffs this year and expressed support for the front office as he spoke with Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Alexander pointed to Trevor Ariza and Kostas Papanikolaou as key additions in an offseason that, as the owner acknowledged, didn’t go as planned.

“It was a very difficult offseason,” Alexander said. “There were big decisions that really didn’t go our way. It was tough. It was tough going through it and hoping you’d be able to rebound and have a really good team. I liked the moves that we made. And we still have flexibility to make other moves, which I believe is important.”

The Rockets, with a league-best 5-0 record, put that unbeaten mark on the line tonight against a Spurs team that plans to rest Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Thunder would likely apply for a second hardship provision, which would give them a 17th roster spot, if they expect that a knee injury that Perry Jones III suffered Tuesday will force him to miss a significant amount of time, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. The team is poised to make Ish Smith its 16th player.
  • Ben McLemore has hired the Klutch Sports Group for his representation, the agency announced (Twitter link). The second-year shooting guard recently left agent Rodney Blackstock. Klutch has close ties to the Cavs, but the earliest McLemore could reach unrestricted free agency by his own choosing would be the summer of 2018.
  • Flip Saunders said uncertainty over the Timberwolves roster this summer prior to the Kevin Love trade helped keep him from hiring Lionel Hollins as Minnesota’s coach, observes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Saunders said he couldn’t promise Hollins, who interviewed for the coaching job that Saunders ultimately took for himself, that the Wolves would have the sort of veteran roster that Hollins is accustomed to, as Bontemps notes.

New York Rumors: Shumpert, Nets, Carmelo

A report from Marc Stein of 10 days ago indicated that the Knicks and Iman Shumpert were in active extension negotiations, but Ian Begley of continues to hear that the sides haven’t engaged in any talks, echoing his dispatch from a month ago. The Knicks upset Shumpert when they made him a frequent subject of trade talk last season, Begley writes, and a source close to the swingman tells Begley that Shumpert is in no mood to give New York a hometown discount should he hit restricted free agency next summer. Here’s more from around the Big Apple:

  • Nets GM Billy King confirmed the team will keep Jorge Gutierrez and Jerome Jordan along with the team’s 12 fully guaranteed contracts for opening night, tweets Andy Vasquez of The Record. Presumably, that means Cory Jefferson will stick around on his partially guaranteed deal, too.
  • Carmelo Anthony did his part to refute a report that indicated that marquee free agents don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant, telling reporters that he’d “love” to play with the Lakers legend, as Ramona Shelburne and Ohm Youngmisuk of note. Anthony also said that Bryant tried to recruit him to the Lakers this summer, but the Knicks forward can’t hit free agency again until 2018, and Bryant’s under contract through the summer of 2016.
  • Lionel Hollins said he never got to know Grizzlies owner Robert Pera before the team let Hollins go in 2013, as he tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. The new Nets coach added that timing played a key role in his decision to take the Brooklyn job this summer while the Lakers still had a vacancy. “I felt either one of those jobs would be fine,” Hollins says. “The Lakers still had Kobe and they could change the team at a moment’s notice because they only had three players under contract. So I thought that wasn’t a bad situation and I thought this was a good situation so when it came about, it was one that I was happy and I wasn’t going to wait on the Lakers when I had a job in hand.”

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