“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 ESPN.com. Tension between Hollins and some of his players is escalating, Stein and Youngmisuk hear, and sources tell Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.com 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.