With Hollins Running Nets, Kidd Stuff is Over

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The Nets’ new coach hasn’t purposely spilled soda on the Barclays Center court to stop a game. Nor has he gone behind his boss’ back to try to gain more power and influence with the team’s owner, Mikhail Prokhorov.

For sheer drama, Lionel Hollins will never be confused with Jason Kidd.

And that’s good.

Amateur hour in Brooklyn ended with Kidd’s failed power play and abrupt exile to Milwaukee last summer, and with the arrival of Hollins, a pro’s pro who isn’t out to get GM Billy King’s job.

Hollins did not arrive in Brooklyn with the splash that accompanied Kidd, the greatest player in the franchise’s mostly-lean NBA years. But the Nets got a whole lot more stable, tons more professional and far better on the sidelines when they turned to the man who helped transform the Memphis Grizzlies into a defensive force and Western Conference power.

While Kidd on Monday night was over in the Garden, attempting to explain how he managed to bungle his way to one of the league’s deader franchises, Hollins was leading the Nets against the Sixers in Barclays Center.

He’s still trying to figure out what he has, so he’s experimenting with different lineups and looks.
He didn’t have Kevin Garnett, out again with the stomach bug he picked up during the team’s recent trip to China, and Hollins probably has little idea what the future Hall of Famer can give him after he brought very little from Boston last season.

He didn’t have Brook Lopez, out again with yet another foot injury, and he can’t be sure whether his 7-foot center can stay healthy after another lost season. He’s had Deron Williams for pre-season, but there’s no telling whether his playmaker will stop pounding the ball and start turning his career around.

But if anyone can figure it out, it’s probably Hollins, a former championship guard on Bill Walton’s great Portland team of 1977.

“Out of all the things he does well, he puts people right where they belong,’’ said Brett Brown, the Sixers coach who was a long-time assistant in San Antonio when the Spurs and Hollins’ Grizzlies staged regular wars in the Southwest Division and met twice in the playoffs in a three-year span.

After the final time the Spurs and Grizzlies banged heads in the post-season, with San Antonio sweeping the Grizzlies in the 2013 West Finals that included two overtime games, Hollins was unceremoniously dumped.

It didn’t matter that he had taken the Grizzlies further than they had ever gone in the post-season. An old-school coach who sometimes runs a game by “gut and feel,’’ his ideas ran counter to those of his bosses, who placed an emphasis on analytics and statistical-based X’s and O’s.

“When he got out of it, you just wondered how soon somebody would scoop him up, because he’s a quality human being and a real person and a hell of a coach,’’ Brown said. “I watched him for years and you could tell how solid his teams were. He was never underrated by those of us in the Spurs locker room, starting with Pop (VP-coach Gregg Popovich). His teams were always tough and defensive-minded. With the veteran roster Brooklyn has, he’s a natural to come in and do what he did in Memphis.’’

He’s been exactly as advertised, holding players accountable right from the start, as when he told Lopez via the media that he had to “play tougher’’ and “be a force in the paint’’ this season.

“No question, he doesn’t hold his tongue for anybody,’’ said one of the team’s new additions, Jarrett Jack.” The thing I like about him is, he tells you like it is. If it’s a situation where you need to be corrected, he doesn’t hold back. Whether it’s me or (Garnett) or D-Will (Williams), one through 15. When it comes from the top down, you have to respect that.’’

How it all plays out, we’ll see. But at least with Hollins on board, the Kidd stuff in Brooklyn is officially over.
 

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