No one could have seen this coming. A little more than a year since the Brooklyn Nets were prevented from talking to Lionel Hollins about their coaching vacancy, he is now the head coach of the team. Jason Kidd, who in his first season turned the Nets around from a 10-21 start to a first-round playoff victory, is now in Milwaukee. It was a fitting end to Kidd’s crazy tenure in Brooklyn.
Despite the insanity of this past week, Brooklyn is actually in a much better position without Kidd at the helm. Although the circumstances are disappointing with the franchise now on its fourth coach since moving to Brooklyn, Hollins is a better option and the right fit for the job. An important factor when choosing a new coach is finding one whose philosophy and credentials align with the team’s current roster. Quite frankly, as a rookie head coach Kidd was not the right man to lead this squad filled with veterans.
Demanding more power after one season where the team did not live up to the enormous expectations was ridiculous and out of line. While it is unclear whether or not Kidd will grow and become a great coach in the NBA, moving on from him was definitely the right decision. After the failed maneuver, the front office and players undoubtedly lost respect for him, which could have caused turmoil in the upcoming season.
When it’s all said and done, Hollins was the best candidate to replace him. While he may not have the experience and success of George Karl, or the enthusiasm and passion of Mark Jackson, Hollins brings smarts and toughness to Brooklyn.
What occurred with the Memphis Grizzlies was absurdly unfair to Hollins. Following a 56-26 season, Hollins led the Grizzlies to the conference finals (without Rudy Gay) in a stacked Western Conference. Even though he spent a year off after Memphis decided to go with David Joerger, Hollins should still be considered one of the most underrated coaches in the league.
Right now, Brook Lopez is the best overall player on the Nets roster. Brooklyn was at its best in the 2012-2013 season when the offense ran through Lopez, and the team would be foolish to give up on him after his latest injury. When healthy, Lopez is one of the best offensive centers in the league and his defense is steadily improving. However, Kidd reportedly wanted to trade Lopez along with Mirza Teletovic just days before he left Brooklyn for Milwaukee. The deal he wanted was Lopez and Teletovic for Ersan Ilyasova and troubled, injury-prone center Larry Sanders.
With Hollins now in charge, Lopez can continue developing his defensive and rebounding games. Under Hollins, the Grizzlies had one of if the not the best big-men combination in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His experience coaching them should translate over into Lopez reaching his full potential.
In addition, Memphis ran a very slow-paced offense, similar to Brooklyn. George Karl on the other hand ran an extremely up-tempo offense in Denver, which would not have worked with the Nets players. Therefore, Hollins’ past mindset as a coach will fit perfectly as a system in Brooklyn. With Kidd as the coach, Brooklyn just appeared lost at times. When things were going wrong, Kidd’s leadership, or lack thereof, was often questioned. He was criticized for simple things such as not talking or standing enough. Hollins knows what it takes to lead a team deep into the playoffs, and the Nets’ experienced roster will respect him more than Kidd who seemed more like a friend rather than a coach.
Though it is never fun to go through a coaching change, especially one that gets ugly, the Nets are better off now with Hollins as the head coach.
Jordan Berkowitz is a Brooklyn Nets writer for RantSports.com