Notebook: Hollins' practices no cakewalk

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
5:42
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Brooklyn Nets didn’t practice much under Jason Kidd last season.

Nets swingman Joe Johnson confirmed as much on media day Monday. “We practiced, but, you know, not really,” Johnson said with a laugh.

Asked about Johnson’s comment in Milwaukee, Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Wednesday, “We couldn’t. We were hurt. That’s just part of the game. What Joe said wasn’t a shock. Unfortunately, people outside took it as a shot. But it wasn’t a shot. We practiced when we could. We were an older group.”

Practices have been different under new coach Lionel Hollins.

“Practice has been tough,” point guard Deron Williams said. “It hasn’t been a cakewalk. But I think that’s gonna make games seem easy.”

One Nets drill at the end of Wednesday's session epitomized that sentiment. The offense was forced to bring the ball up against a defense that was already set. No easy buckets.

“It was work. It was hard. They fought through it. It was a hard day,” Hollins said. “They did a lot of stuff, both defensively and offensively and drill work, and they stood up to the test and I was proud of them from that perspective, and this is how you make nails. This is how you become tougher. You’ve got to endure and keep grinding even though you’re tired, even though it’s tough.

“The drill we were doing at the end, it’s tough because the defense is always waiting on you. There’s no fast break, but you still have to go down there and execute and I think the guys did a pretty decent job for the first time that we’ve done this, and everybody’s starting to get acclimated and we haven’t even put in all the triggers. We just put the base in so they can learn it, and then we’ll go forward.”

• Hollins said earlier in the week that the biggest trash-talker on the team is Alan Anderson. So what did Anderson think about that? “Did he? Damn,” Anderson said, clearly surprised. “All right, well that’s cool. I didn’t know about that one, but I’ll take it.”

Does Anderson consider himself a trash-talker? “Nah, I just don’t take no mess,” he said. “But I don’t talk trash.”

Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Sergey Karasev (foot) did not practice. Karasev said he has a blister on his foot and plans to practice Thursday.

• Hollins says he’s finally settled in New York.

“I like New York. I’ve always liked New York. I didn’t think I could live here, but now I’m here ... I can live here,” he said. “There’s so much hustle-bustle. When you come visit, everything is just different from every other city in America. You just have to get used to it.”

“I’m not getting caught up in the whole New York thing,” he joked. “I’m just gonna live.”

Hollins grew up away from the city lights.

“It wasn’t a farm. It was in the country with pigs and cows and chickens and turkeys,” Hollins said. “It’s a long ways from those days. I’ve been in a lot of other cities that are a long ways from that, too.”

Bogdanovic adjusting to new team, country

October, 1, 2014
Oct 1
5:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Bojan Bogdanovic is going through a difficult transition period.

“It’s a completely different life,” the 25-year-old rookie said of living in the United States. “It’s a completely different country. I’ve had to adjust to many things.”

On the court, Bogdanovic is appreciative of the veterans who are helping him become acclimated with the NBA game.

“They’ve been helping me because everything is new for me,” Bogdanovic, who has been nicknamed Bogie by his teammates, said. “I’m very happy to be in the same locker room with KG, Deron and Joe.”

Bogdanovic, who is from Serbia, is also fortunate to have Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina native Mirza Teletovic around to show him the ropes.

“He’s been helping me with a lot of things,” Bogdanovic said of Teletovic. “I talked to him several times over the summer while I was talking to Brooklyn. He was explaining things to me about the team and the city.”

Among his many on-court challenges, a new ball, a 3-point line that is farther back and playing more man-to-man defense rank among the top.

“My shots have been coming up short, so I’ve had to take several shots,” said Bogdanovic, who often shows up 60-90 minutes before practice to get extra shooting work in.

So, understandably, Bogdanovic isn’t thinking about starting, winning rookie of the year or making the all-rookie first team -- though he certainly looked pretty potent from the perimeter while getting some reps with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez during practice.

“I just want to get some minutes to help my teammates and show what I can do,” said Bogdanovic, who came over from Croatia after signing a three-year, $10 million contract in the offseason. “Maybe I can become an all-rookie, but first I have to get minutes to play for Brooklyn.”

Nets coach Lionel Hollins has liked what he’s seen from his Euro import so far.

“He’s a basketball player, not just a 3-point shooter,” he said.

Bogdanovic had a strong FIBA World Cup, averaging 21.2 points on 50 percent shooting over the summer. He’s going to have to adjust to not playing with the ball in his hands as much with the Nets, but he says it's something he’s more than willing to do.

“Each day I’m learning more and more and getting more comfortable,” he said.

Where do Nets fit in the East?

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
7:10
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Paul Pierce, Andrei KirilenkoNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhat heights are the Nets capable of reaching in 2014-15?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As training camp begins, the majority of NBA teams are in high spirits. Optimism is prevalent throughout the league.

As for the Brooklyn Nets, where do they view themselves in the Eastern Conference?

“I mean, I think it’s wide open,” point guard Deron Williams said on media day. “I think teams definitely got better. You look at Cleveland, they got better. Washington got better. Teams got better. Chicago. Then you’ve got teams like Toronto that are still going to be good teams. So I feel like the East is wide open. I feel like we can compete in the East. It’s kind of there for the taking.”

Lionel Hollins used to coach in the mighty Western Conference when he was with the Memphis Grizzlies. Is he happy to be in the East now that he’s with Brooklyn?

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
Brian Babineau/Getty ImagesThe Nets will have to navigate a beast of an Eastern Conference this season.
“I said this at the press conference [on media day]: Who says the East isn’t very good?” Hollins said Tuesday. “I’m looking at the East and I’m looking at some guys that are really playing and expected to do good this year. I mean, Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Washington, those teams came on last year and so we can’t base it on what they’ve been in previous years. All we can go on is what I saw at the end of the year and in the playoffs. And those teams are gonna be strong next year and we’re hoping to be one of those teams in the mix. And what happens in the West, we don’t know yet. I mean everybody finished their season, they were a different place and now they gotta start this year in the beginning, they’ve gotta stay healthy, they’ve gotta play well enough to win games.”

It seems Hollins hasn't forgotten. But for those of you who need a refresher, here's a quick recap of what went down in the East this offseason:

Cleveland: Added LeBron James, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion and Mike Miller to its young core that featured Kyrie Irving. Many are high on the Cavaliers, and rightfully so. The pressure is on this group, but they’re the popular pick and understandably so.

Chicago: Derrick Rose, the Bulls hope, is healthy. They also added Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. Plus, they still have head coach Tom Thibodeau, which means they’re going to defend and play hard.

Washington: John Wall and Bradley Beal is as good a young backcourt as it gets. The Wizards also brought in ex-Nets Paul Pierce and Kris Humphries. They’re considered the up-and-comers.

Toronto: The Raptors gave the Nets a run for their money in the first round and took a major step forward. Their Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan-Jonas Valanciunas core is still there, which means continuity. Will they take another step forward or fall back?

Miami: The Heat lost LeBron, but they still have Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng. Not as good as they were, but they still look like a pretty good team.

Charlotte: Lance Stephenson was added to the mix. And the Bobcats already have Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. This young group will be an intriguing team to watch.

Atlanta: Offseason mess aside, the Hawks have a well-rounded team. Will Al Horford get healthy?

New York: The Phil Jackson/Derek Fisher tandem should be an upgrade, and Carmelo Anthony is back. But can they defend?

Brooklyn: The Nets might be the most unpredictable team of this group, simply because of health. Williams and Brook Lopez need to sustain good health for Brooklyn to be successful.

Question: Where do you see the Nets fitting in the Eastern Conference? Let us know in the comments section below.

New and improved Johnson? Joe says so

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
3:37
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Johnson said on media day that he “expected more” from himself last season.

Our question is: What more could he have done?

[+] EnlargeJoe Johnson
Bill Kostroun/AP PhotoBelieve it or not, Joe Johnson said he "expected more" from himself last season.
Johnson hit two game-winning buzzer beaters -- including the one that turned his team’s season around in Oklahoma City -- and scored 29 points in a quarter against Philadelphia. In the playoffs, he averaged 21.2 points on 53.3 percent shooting. And against Miami, in the Nets' final game of the season, he had 34 points.

Johnson explained Tuesday that he wants to get better at two things this season: getting to the free throw line and helping the big men by grabbing more defensive rebounds.

As a Net (since 2012-13), he has averaged 2.4 free-throw attempts and 2.6 defensive rebounds per game. During his time in Atlanta, those numbers were higher: 4.1 free-throw attempts and 3.3 defensive rebounds.

Johnson said he’ll continue to keep his mouth shut when it comes to questionable calls. He realizes the referees are human, and doesn’t want to annoy them by complaining.

The 33-year-old veteran is known most for his scoring ability. He said it has been a challenge trying to figure out new systems seemingly every season, but he’s more than willing to adjust.

“I’ll never complain. I’m a basketball player, so whatever offense you wanna run, I’m capable of running it or adjusting to it,” Johnson said. “Whether you want me to be more of a catch-and-shoot guy or you want me to be more off-the-dribble, post-up, whatever you want me to do, I can do it.”

He’s right.

According to Synergy Sports data, Johnson’s offense was evenly distributed and efficient last season. He was considered excellent in spot-up situations (22.6 percent of plays, 92nd percentile in the league) and very good in both post-up (20 percent of plays, 82nd percentile) and isolation sets (16.6 percent of plays, 66th percentile).

“That’s one thing I try to do with my game, not have any weaknesses as far as being able to help this team,” Johnson said.

D-Will given rest day

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
3:08
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams was given a rest day and did not practice on Tuesday.

“I just wanted to,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins replied when asked why he gave Williams the day off. “I wanted to give him the day off. KG [Kevin Garnett] had a day off and Brook’s had days off and I just wanted to give one and took Joe [Johnson] out of the practice late because he’s the guy that is in every drill and I wanted to give him time off too.”

Williams is coming off of offseason ankle surgery. Small forward Andrei Kirilenko (back tightness) also did not practice, as expected.

Managing his veterans is going to be important for Hollins this season.

Hollins: D-Will confident as ever

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
8:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Late in Monday’s practice, during 5-on-5 drills, Deron Williams fired a 3-pointer.

As he took the shot, the Brooklyn Nets point guard yelled, “Layup!”

The ball swished through the net.

Sure, it’s only training camp, but D-Will’s confidence was evident.

Noted Nets coach Lionel Hollins, “They all talk crap out there. He’s as confident as he’s ever been. I coached against him, and he always looked confident to me then. It’s practice. These guys all talk crap to each other. It’s part of the game.”

But who is the biggest -- in the words of Hollins -- “crap talker?” Must be Kevin Garnett, right?

“No, Alan Anderson,” Hollins said. “They go out there, they’re competing, they’re getting after each other, they’re pushing each other, and that’s good.”

Garnett, as usual, was extremely vocal during practice. It’s pretty much how he has always been -- encouraging his teammates and leading by example.

“It’s great. It’s fun,” Hollins said. “It’s good to have a guy that’s vocal, that understands a lot, that’s a good leader, and he sets a good example out there that all our young guys can follow. For the young guys just coming into this league, it’s good to be playing with a guy like KG that can set a foundation for them for the rest of your career.”

So how would Hollins sum it up?

“He’s not a coach on the coach. It’s just leadership, doing your job and doing it to a high-intensity level and not making excuses,” he said.

With Andrei Kirilenko out, Alan Anderson got the majority of the time with the other starters, though Hollins was mixing and matching.

Developing chemistry, continuity and a rotation is going to be key as training camp progresses into preseason games and then the regular season.

The Nets had just one practice Monday and will not do two-a-days on Tuesday either, Hollins said.

Lopez: 'I'm ready to play'

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
5:19
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez would be happy if he never had to field another question about his health again.

The 26-year-old veteran, who looks to be in great shape after putting in plenty of rigorous workout sessions in the offseason, is confident in his surgically-repaired foot and ankle -- and hopes the injuries that have caused him to miss 134 games over the last three seasons are behind him.

“I don’t have any questions about my health,” Lopez said Sunday. “I’m ready to play basketball.”

The questions will not stop until Lopez can prove he is healthy and sustain that health over the course of an 82-game season -- a season the Nets hope also includes a long playoff run.

He will get his chance shortly.

“I feel great right now,” Lopez said. “I’m not looking for any restrictions. If they come, it’s not going to be because I said something. It’s going to be from Timmy (trainer Tim Walsh) or from coach [Lionel Hollins]. I’m just looking forward to getting to work.”

Since being selected by the Nets with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft out of Stanford, Lopez has shown a unique ability to score in a variety of ways. And over time, he has become more efficient.

Last season, he set career-highs in points per game (20.7), field-goal percentage (56.3) and Player Efficiency Rating (25.50) before going down with a season-ending foot injury on Dec. 20 in Philadelphia. In his 17-game 2013-14 campaign, he made 63.6 percent of his hook shots and 47.3 percent of his jump shots.

According to data obtained from Synergy Sports, Lopez excelled in the post. In post-ups, which represented 39.3 percent of his offense plays, the All-Star center amassed 1.157 points per play, good enough to put him in the 98th percentile league-wide in that category.

“He’s very skilled,” Hollins said. “From an offensive perspective, he ranks right up there with a lot of guys from that perspective.”

But it’s on the defensive end where Lopez needs to become a more complete 7-footer.

While he held opponents to just 39.5 percent shooting at the rim and was a strong post defender (1.8 blocks per game), Lopez struggled against the pick-and-roll. According to Synergy, he allowed opposing bigs to amass 0.926 points per play in pick-and-rolls, which put him in the 23rd percentile, or below average.

Lopez has also not averaged more than 6.9 rebounds per game since the 2009-10 campaign -- his second season in the NBA.

“[Lionel] wants me to take more charges,” Lopez said. “Become a better pick-and-roll defender and crash the glass.”

[+] EnlargeBrook Lopez
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowIn his 17-game 2013-14 campaign, Lopez hit a career-high in points per game (20.7).
Lopez went into more detail about snagging boards.

“It’s just been a matter of increasing my effort,” he said. “Not just boxing out, but going to get the rebound after and focusing on certain numbers on the offensive rebounds, as well as defensive rebounds.”

Clearly, as Hollins installs his systems and schemes, Lopez is going to be a focal point -- both offensively and defensively. The Nets would like him to be better at facilitating for his teammates as well. Often times during games, the ball would go into Lopez, and it would never come out. This is all part of the learning process, part of Lopez maturing as a basketball player.

For all his talent, and he has quite an abundance of that, many wonder just how much Lopez yearns to be great. He certainly doesn’t have the typical personality of a franchise player.

“I don’t know what the mentality of a dominant big man is,” Hollins said. “But I think that he has a lot of growth left and maturity to go with regards to him wanting the ball and getting to where he can get the ball.”

The organization hopes that Lopez can stay healthy over the course of the season. To that end, they have not said anything about limiting Lopez’s minutes or prohibiting him from playing both games of back-to-back sets. But that is something that very-well could occur as he makes his way back to being 100 percent.

Lopez is looking forward to reestablishing cohesion with point guard Deron Williams. The duo has played just 100 games together, compiling a 55-45 record. Conversely, when either one or neither is in the lineup, the Nets are 67-88.

During his time as a Net, Lopez has had seven different coaches. He has seen both good times and bad.

Now, he hopes, it’ll be good times from here on out.

Lopez has a lot at stake. He will make $15.7 million this season, then holds a $16.7 million player option for 2015-16. If he can stay healthy and return to All-Star form, he’ll be able to reestablish his value and perhaps create a nice market for himself going forward.

And by doing all of that, Lopez will also be helping the Nets get back to where they want to be.

KG unfazed entering 20th season

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
4:00
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kevin Garnett and Derek Jeter may share the same number -- 2 -- but the Brooklyn Nets power forward says that is where the comparisons between the two future Hall of Famers end.

“He’s been on one team,” Garnett said Monday of the New York Yankees captain, who played the last game of his 19-year career on Sunday in Boston. “He’s done unbelievable things for the Yankees and just sports in general. If you want to say that’s similar or parallel (between us), sure. But with all due respects to what Jeter has done for sports period, I’m just so happy for him and that he went out the way he wanted to, which is not always the way that some athletes get to go. So salute to my man.”

Garnett, 38, is entering his 20th -- and perhaps final -- season in the NBA. He has pondered retirement the last three summers. At this point, it doesn’t appear that Garnett will have a Jeter-like retirement tour since he declined to say whether this season would be his last.

Last summer, Garnett had to be convinced by longtime teammate Paul Pierce and coach Jason Kidd to leave Boston for Brooklyn. This summer, he says, was different.

“I prepared myself this offseason like I have, not last year because I was in decisive in what I wanted to do with the decision-making,” Garnett said. “This year, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I did that throughout the whole summer. So I’m in more better spirits because I know what I’m here to do this year and I’m here to enjoy this. You never know when it’s going to be your last. Watching Jeter and his whole thing has been inspiring and what I took from it is to enjoy this because you never know when it’s going to be your last.”

Asked to expand, Garnett said: “Just because I knew I could do better and just motivated. That’s it. Plus I knew contractually I knew I had to come in here and do that. I’m a person that wants to run through the finish line if you will and I’m happy to be here. So that’s what it is.” He is in the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2014-15.

Garnett, who was his usual vocal self at practice Monday, says he is aware that he will become just the fourth player in league history to play for a 20th season: Kevin Willis, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parrish are the others.

“I told Kevin McHale when I came in here (to Minnesota) after my first practice -- to be not cute or not you know kinda smart -- but he kinda cracked a joke that I had a buncha ice on me. I was just turning 19 and I was hurting and I told him that I wanna be in this league for half my life. And he kinda just giggled,” Garnett said, later acknowledging his appreciation and love for McHale. “But he never knew what was inside so 19 years later here we are. ... I’m motivated and I’ve always been motivated. I’ve never had a problem with that.”

[+] EnlargeKevin Garnett
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsGarnett is in the final year of his contract and will earn $12 million in 2014-15.
Last season, Garnett had to become acclimated with a new team in a new environment. He says he feels more comfortable with his surroundings now.

“Being honest, I know what to expect this year, living in New York -- let me explain that -- and coming to the Brooklyn Nets. I’m coming from Beantown, didn’t really know what to expect. First year, having Jason (Kidd), didn’t know where I fit in at,” Garnett said. “Obviously, I understood coming in here I knew I wasn’t going to be primary, and what I mean by that is big minutes, play calling. So I wanted to facilitate. Help Brook (Lopez) as much as I could and what I know. Other guys, Mason (Plumlee) and so on and so on. This year, coming in with a little more edge, with a little more assertiveness, kind of deferring back to obviously when I came into this league and hat I created for myself. I’m going to be a lot more aggressive, but then letting the coach know that I’m not 18. If you can, let’s be on the same page as far as minutes and stuff like that, just so I have something to give.”

Garnett was asked what it would mean to him to finish with a strong season.

“To finish the season strong, to be able to look back and say I’ve enjoyed not only the guys, but the opportunity and because it’s so many things play into it with the injuries and so many different things play into just how players are moved or just how players maneuver,” Garnett said. “So I set small goals for myself, but more importantly team goals and team goals are always going to trump my own personals. So I’m just glad I’m able to be out here. Good Lord knows Lionel [Hollins] is totally old-school. He’s kicking our a-- in here, got us running around like a chicken with their head cut off. But it’s all good. It’s all good. He’s working us and we are trying to meet the standard of which he wants and I feel like we are giving it to him. So far so good. Talk to me in five more days and see what the f--- I look like, all right?”

Garnett said he doesn’t want to be a coach when his playing carer is over. “Hell nah,” he said, laughing.

Last season, Garnett openly said he hated playing center. Now, he’s back to his normal power forward spot.

“But now I got used to playing five and now I gotta get used to playing the four. Man it’s terrible right now,” Garnett joked. “But as long as I’m able to be on the floor and contribute, that’s what’s most important.”

Kirilenko feeling tightness in back

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
2:48
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets small forward Andrei Kirilenko, who was working with the starters on the first day of training camp, has tightness in his lower back, which he believes could keep him out for the next 7-10 days.

Kirilenko missed 25 straight games early last season due to back spasms. Overall, he missed 37 games in 2013-14 due to injury.

“I mean I’m trying to be positive,” Kirilenko, who worked with the training staff to strengthen his back in the offseason, said Sunday. “If I can get it out [of the way] right now there’s a whole season in front of us. It’s kind of -- I don’t want to say it’s the right time -- but it’s better now than in the middle of the season when you start missing games, especially the NBA season's games go night by night and you start missing games. Probably right now it’s better to miss these days now.”

Kirilenko has been dealing with back problems over the last eight seasons. He and the team wanted to take precautions and be proactive so it doesn’t linger.

Kirilenko said he began feeling the tightness on Saturday, but doesn’t think it was from practice, which he said was light.

“I don’t feel any pain right now,” he said. “I just feel tightness only. Yesterday I started feeling it so I told [trainer Tim Walsh] and we kinda started to slow it down a little bit so we wouldn’t get to the point where it was completely sore.”

Kirilenko was working with fellow starters Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez at practice. The veteran said he wants to get consistent minutes this season -- whether it’s starting or coming off the bench -- but that could be difficult if his back injuries continue.

Kirilenko likes that coach Lionel Hollins has put in a lot of similar-type motion offense sets that Kirilenko ran when he was in Utah.

“The way we were moving, the way the ball moves [reminded me of Utah],” he said. “We talked a lot about my experience with the Jazz, how I ran in the offense, how Deron ran the offense, so it’s just a feeling. Again, it’s not necessarily the Jazz offense, it’s just like a little ways it looks like it or feels like it.”

Kirilenko doesn’t know if he’ll be available for the team’s first preseason game on Oct. 7. He plans to rest and get some doctor-prescribed medication to help his back in the meantime.

“It’s very hard to say. I hope so,” he said. “Right now, I’m in this kinda position I don’t really know what’s gonna happen the next five to six days. This is a very important time to maintain it.”

Snapshots: Pierce back in green

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
2:22
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Former Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce donned the green again on Sunday when he appeared at Fenway Park to help the Boston Red Sox salute Derek Jeter.

Clad in a Celtics jacket, Pierce was among a collection of Boston sports stars on hand to greet Jeter during the final game of his career. Pierce, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets last summer, signed with the Washington Wizards this offseason.

A couple glimpses of Pierce in green again:
 

Deron Williams: Last year 'behind us'

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
1:57
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[+] EnlargeDeron Williams
AP Photo/Bill KostrounLionel Hollins is confident that Deron Williams will bounce back following back-to-back seasons in which the Nets guard was plagued by injuries and on-court struggles.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins is confident that Deron Williams will bounce back in 2014-15 following back-to-back seasons in which the three-time All-Star point guard was plagued by ankle injuries and struggled on the court as a result.

"There are a lot of expectations on him," Hollins said Sunday. "I don't [know] the reasons why -- [whether it be] the status he had when he was playing here, the contract. Whatever it may be, Deron Williams is a very good basketball player and Deron Williams is going to prove that this year with this team. And you guys are going to love him. Or respect him."

Williams hasn't been the same player since he agreed to a five-year, $98 million to remain in Brooklyn before the start of the 2012-13 campaign. He underwent surgery on both of his ankles this offseason following a 2013-14 season in which he averaged just 14.3 points and 6.1 assists.

"I don't think about last year," Williams said. "I'm not worried about last year. Last year is behind us. This is a new year, new team, new day."


(Read full post)


Deron Williams practices, and feels good

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
5:16
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams said he felt fine Saturday after participating in the first of two practice sessions on the first day of training camp.

Williams is coming off offseason surgery on both of his ankles. The injuries caused him to miss training camp last season.

“It was good. It was fun,” Williams said. “It’s always fun to start training camp especially when you missed it last season. So it was good to be out there and I thought the first practice was good.”

Center Brook Lopez, who is coming off foot and ankle surgeries, was expected to participate in the second session on Saturday, coach Lionel Hollins said -- although, as Hollins noted, it was only a one-hour, non-contact session. Hollins said it was not overly important that Lopez participate if the trainers elected to keep him out.

“Deron was good. Brook was good,” Hollins said. “We tried to put a sub around both of them so they didn’t have to go through all the reps. They all did good.”

Said Williams, of Lopez: “He looked great. He didn’t look like a guy who missed all of last year. But he’s looked good. I’ve been with him for the last two weeks here at the gym and he looks good every day.

Joe Johnson said Andrei Kirilenko practiced with the starters on Day 1. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Hollins decides to go with a veteran starting lineup of Williams, Johnson, Kirilenko, Kevin Garnett and Lopez.

Hollins happy with Nets on Day 1 of camp

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
5:02
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When will the Brooklyn Nets finally find the right coach?

Is Lionel Hollins going to be the guy who brings an end to all the changes at the position?

Brook Lopez is entering his seventh NBA season -- in that span, the Nets have had seven different coaches.

[+] EnlargeLionel Hollins
AP Photo/Bill KostrounLionel Hollins, on the first day of Nets practice.
“It’s been ... interesting,” Lopez said on media day.

Since the team moved to Brooklyn in 2012, the Nets have had three coaches. Hollins is the fourth.

“The fourth one in three years,” Deron Williams said. “So, you know, maybe this will be the right voice. Hopefully, it’s the right voice.”

In Memphis, Hollins was able to bring stability. He went 13-26 on an interim basis in 2008-09. In his first full season at the helm, the Grizzlies went 40-42 and missed the playoffs. But their winning percentage increased in his final three seasons with the team -- from .561 to .621 to. 683.

The Grizzlies formed an identity as a tough, defensive-minded team that played big. They were aggressive and gave their best effort every night -- even if it wasn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing basketball to watch.

“Well, they let me stay for a long time,” Collins joked Saturday, following the team’s first day of training camp. “And when you get to stay for a long time, stability comes.

“Just having a plan and vision of how you want it done, how you want the team to be perceived from my perspective and then have them create an identity on the court for however they play. Keep doing it day after day after day, and if it’s successful then they let you stay around a little longer. Keep having success and growing on it, that’s what it’s about.”

Already, Hollins is trying to instill similar values in the Nets: toughness, aggressiveness, physicality, mental fortitude. The roster might not exactly be the same -- Lopez and Kevin Garnett aren’t Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and the Nets have more shooters than the Grizzlies did -- but the core principles are the same. Now it’s about installing plays and learning systems.

Hollins said the Nets aren’t going to play the same way they did under Jason Kidd. There are no stretch fours like Paul Pierce on the roster this year.

“I want to create a mentality, create a culture. Today they surprised me with their energy and effort on defense,” Hollins said. “But can we back it up?”

When asked about toughness, Joe Johnson said, “I don't think we can sit here and honestly talk about it. I think it's more show and prove. We talked about being a tougher team last year, when J-Kidd was here. We showed signs of it, but we weren’t consistent. We’ve got to get some consistency out of every guy on this team. Then we’ll see what happens. But until then, we can't really -- we can say we want to be a tougher team, but we have to go out there and show it.”

Hollins wants his team to practice, and practice a lot. “Under Jason Kidd, we practiced ... but not really,” Johnson said, causing reporters to laugh.

Things are different now.

“We gotta be a defensive-minded team first,” Williams said. “We wanna push the ball. We wanna be a tough team. And we just gotta play with a lot of energy, a lot of passion for the game. We’ve gotta believe that we can win every time we step on the floor. I think we’re a veteran group and we realize that we have to be a good defensive team if we wanna win, point blank. If we’re not gonna be a good defensive team, it’s gonna be hard for us to compete for a championship.”

So how did Hollins feel on Day 1, after being out of coaching for a year?

“Very painful. My back was hurting. My feet were hurting,” he said. “But other than that it felt great. I had butterflies before we came out. It was a good day.”

Johnson credits 'hot yoga' for better shape

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
4:08
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Johnson says he’s as light as he’s been since his early days in Boston and Phoenix.

But how?

It's simple: Yoga. Specifically “hot yoga.”

“I’m a yoga head,” Johnson said Saturday, following the team’s first day of training camp. “I’m a hot yoga head.”

Johnson, listed at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, was 225 pounds in his final season with the Suns (2004-05), according to basketballreference.com.

So, what is hot yoga? It’s essentially a style of yoga performed in a room well above body temperature -- approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit, to be exact.

“Doing that, you lose anywhere from 600-1,000 calories a session,” Johnson said. “I've been pretty much going every day. So just kind of, you know what you get. But I feel good.”

Johnson has played 35,692 minutes in his 13 seasons in the NBA. In 2013-14, he missed just three games. He averaged 21.2 points on 53.3 percent shooting in 39.1 minutes during the playoffs.

Johnson explained how he got started with hot yoga. “When I was in Atlanta, my trainer, Wally Blase, I used to have tendinitis bad, I had Achilles problems, and he told me him and his wife had done it, and that I should come try it with him one day,” Johnson said. “I kind of brushed him off until I had to start missing games. So then I tried it, and I fell in love with it, I've been doing it ever since.”

So how does the weight loss help?

“It makes you more nimble, faster, quicker, maybe more explosive,” Johnson said. “You don't put a lot of wear and tear on your joints, your knees, your ankles, and the older you get, man, you really have to look out for that.”

Weight loss is all the rage in the NBA these days, with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at the forefront.

“I think as you get older you do need to lose some weight and be in better shape,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “When you’re young, you can be out of shape longer and get in shape faster. When you’re older it takes a lot longer to get in shape, and the longer it takes you to get in shape, also leads to possible injuries.”

Hollins: Fifth starter will be a guard

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
5:10
PM ET
Hollins
Hollins
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins said Joe Johnson is going to be playing small forward, which means the team has an opening at its starting shooting guard position.

“It’s gonna be a guard,” Hollins replied when asked who is going to start alongside Deron Williams, Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez.

“Joe Johnson’s gonna be a three. But as I say that I don’t want to be held to it because 2/3 is the same position basically like 4/5 is the same position, technically, but I’m looking for one of those guys to play guard. We don’t have a lot of small forwards, so those guys -- Bojan [Bogdanovic] to me is a guard, Alan Anderson is a guard -- and we’ve got AK [Andrei Kirilenko] and Joe at small forward. So when you say that I’m thinking more from a guard perspective.”

So it sounds like Anderson and Bogdanovic are the leading candidates.

“It’d be great [to start],” Anderson said. “If it’s starting or if it’s coming off the bench, I’ll be ready. But it’ll be good if I could start with the guys he’s going to have starting, because I’m familiar with a lot of the guys.”

Anderson, who averaged 7.2 points and started 26 games last season, seems like the favorite. With Williams, Johnson, Garnett and Lopez on the court, he can be a glue-guy type.

The organization likes Anderson a lot. But maybe Bogdanovic, the European import with long-range shooting abilities, will somehow impress his way into the job during training camp and the preseason.

Anyway, with all that being said, here’s what the depth chart may look like heading into training camp:

C: Brook Lopez/Mason Plumlee/Jerome Jordan
PF: Kevin Garnett/Mirza Teletovic/Cory Jefferson/Willie Reed
SF: Joe Johnson/Andrei Kirilenko
SG: Alan Anderson/Bojan Bogdanovic/Sergey Karasev/Markel Brown
PG: Deron Williams/Jarrett Jack/Marquis Teague/Jorge Gutierrez

Here’s what coach Lionel Hollins had to say about what he saw from his players in 5-on-5 workouts:

“Mirza has shown me that he’s more than just a shooter, though I do like when he’s just standing still and making open shots. Bojan has shown me that he is a guy that is a basketball player that is not just a shooter which bodes well for our team. Deron Williams has looked really good, Jarrett Jack has looked really good. Our two rookies Markel Brown and Cory Jefferson have more than held their own. But as I tell them, this is just the first phase, and the intensity will be ratcheted up. Now it’ll be plays and systems that you have to learn and it won’t just be free-flowing so they’ve looked good now, but tomorrow may be a different story.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8