Brooklyn Nets: George Karl

Five potential Nets coaching candidates

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
4:00
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Jason Kidd is gone to Milwaukee. The Nets now need a new coach for the second time in a year.

Who will be the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets? Let’s take a look at five potential candidates:

1. LIONEL HOLLINS

Lionel HollinsSkinny: The former Grizzlies coach led Memphis to three consecutive playoff appearances in his last three years there. In 2012-13, they won 56 games and advanced to the Western Conference finals before being swept by San Antonio. Hollins’ contract was ultimately not renewed reportedly due to “philosophical differences” he had with management.

Why it could be him: A league source told ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian O’Connor that Hollins has emerged as a “very serious candidate.”

“In a lot of ways, he makes the most sense,” the source said. “He represents stability, and stability is very important right now. He rules with an iron fist and gets a lot out of his players, so he’d be very high on the list right now, and likely the leader.”

One potential downside to this hire is that it’s a safe but not sexy pick. Hollins isn’t a marquee name to draw fans to Brooklyn. Ownership may want to make more of a splashy move like they did last year by hiring Jason Kidd.

2. ETTORE MESSINA

Skinny: The Nets could take a look at European coaches and Messina is regarded as one of the best coaches in Europe, having won four Euroleague championships. He also served as an assistant coach/consultant to the Lakers in 2011-12. There were recent reports that Messina was leaving CSKA Moscow to join the San Antonio Spurs' coaching staff. Spurs GM R.C. Buford denied it.

Why it could be him: Messina is a contender, sources told ESPN.com. He has a strong relationship with Mikhail Prokhorov, having coached CSKA Moscow while Prokhorov owned the Russian team. But would Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce want to play for someone who hasn’t been a head coach in the NBA?

3. MARK JACKSON

[+] EnlargeMark Jackson
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezMark Jackson was very successful with Golden State; would that translate to Brooklyn?
Skinny: Brooklyn’s own Mark Jackson attended Bishop Loughlin and starred at St. John’s before successfully enjoying a long and successful NBA career, including time with the Knicks. He was a TV color commentator for the Nets and ESPN before becoming the coach of the Golden State Warriors. Jackson, who is currently an NBA analyst for ESPN, was there for three seasons, making the playoffs in the last two. However, he had a messy split from Golden State after reportedly clashing with ownership.

Why it could be him: All indications are Jackson was beloved by his players and he could command the respect of veterans like Garnett and Pierce, should both return. However, he’s strong-willed, opinionated and was a staunch supporter of Kidd which all could make the Nets shy away after their divorce with Kidd. If Jackson gets a sit-down with the Nets, though, he has the charisma and personality to dazzle and win an interview.

4. GEORGE KARL

Skinny: Karl has 25 years of head-coaching experience in the NBA. He recently guided the Denver Nuggets to a 57-win season and was named Coach of the Year in 2012-13. He led the Nuggets to the playoffs in all nine of his seasons there, but only once got past the first round. The two sides ultimately parted ways. Karl currently works as a TV analyst for ESPN.

Why it could be him: He’s respected throughout the league, and fits the bill as an experienced, win-now coach for a veteran, win-now team, if the Nets decide to go in that direction. He’s great with the media, but also not shy about expressing his opinions.

5. THE COLLEGE RANKS

Skinny: The Nets will likely take a look at what possibilities exist on the college level, where the big names include Florida’s Billy Donovan and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie.

Why it could be one of them: Donovan has been a hot name for years whenever there’s a pro opening. Ollie's stock is on the rise and he’s one of the hottest coaching prospects there is. Ollie is a former Net, as well. Both won NCAA titles. But luring a championship college coach away from school is a difficult and challenging prospect and this may be an unlikely avenue for the Nets. Also, veterans like Pierce and Garnett may not want to play for a coach who will be coaching on the pro level for the first time.

Win-now Nets need a win-now coach

June, 29, 2014
Jun 29
11:51
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If Jason Kidd leaves, in stunning fashion, as widely expected, the Brooklyn Nets could go in a number of directions.

But only one direction makes sense: With a win-now roster, the Nets need to hire a win-now coach.

Brooklyn native Mark Jackson, George Karl and Lionel Hollins, candidates ESPNNewYork.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported the team would be interested in, all fit that description.

It would be up to one of those guys to help convince Kevin Garnett that he needs to keep playing and Paul Pierce that he needs to stay.

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Garnett, 38, slated to make a guaranteed $12 million in 2014-15, is expected to return for his 20th season, but it’s unknown how this development will affect his decision.

Pierce, 36, will become an unrestricted free agent July 1. The Nets can pay him more than any other team because they hold his Bird rights, but a reunion with his former coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles could be extremely appealing. Pierce and Kidd are both represented by power agent Jeff Schwartz.

The Nets already have $88.5 million committed to nine players, so they have far exceeded the salary cap. As a result, they need to keep Garnett and Pierce, since they cannot replace them with comparable talent.

Jackson, Karl and Hollins all seemingly have the accolades and pedigree required to garner respect from the likes of Garnett and Pierce, who are both headed to the Hall of Fame once their prolific playing careers are over.

Garnett and Pierce may not have much left in the tank, but they provide so much in the form of defense and leadership.

Shaun Livingston, who had a career season, is also an unrestricted free agent. The Nets have been bracing for his departure because they cannot pay him as much as other teams. Livingston proved to be a key cog in the team’s turnaround after he stepped into the starting lineup in 2014. Livingston is also represented by Schwartz.

Garnett, Pierce and Livingston all loved playing for Kidd, who helped persuade Garnett to waive his no-trade clause to come to Brooklyn and pushed for management to sign Livingston.

Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are all owed massive amounts of money. Nets GM Billy King is expected to at least gauge what type of return Williams and Lopez could fetch on the trade market, but both players are coming off surgery, which diminishes their value.

Ultimately, the Nets may be better off without Kidd, who had just completed his first season as coach. Plus, they are expected to be compensated by the Bucks in some form assuming he does leave for Milwaukee.

However, Brooklyn would be worse off without Garnett and Pierce -- even with both players being in the final stage of their careers.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nets go with an out-of-left-field candidate. After all, they have done it before by hiring Kidd.

The Nets took a chance by bringing in the best player in franchise history, and it blew up in their faces. Kidd’s No. 5 jersey hangs in the rafters at Barclays Center, and he holds an extremely minuscule ownership stake.

If Kidd were to stay, it would create an awkward dynamic between himself and King, given that Kidd pushed to have more power than the GM.

The Nets need to get this hire right -- and it needs to be a win-now coach for their win-now roster.

Coaching candidates: Where Nets stand

June, 7, 2013
6/07/13
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Brian Shaw, Lionel Hollins and George Karl USA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesBrian Shaw? Lionel Hollins? George Karl? Will any of these guys fulfill the Nets' five- two-year plan?
Who will the Nets hire as their next head coach?

Seeing as how the organization has been extremely quiet on that front, let’s take a look at where things appear to stand as of now:

Brian Shaw: Shaw, an assistant in Indiana, is at the top of Brooklyn’s list to replace P.J. Carlesimo, according to ESPN and other media reports. Shaw is expected to interview with the Clippers as soon as Monday, and is also seen as a front-runner for their job. While Nets players said on breakup day that they wanted a head coach with experience, Shaw doesn’t have any, but he was voted the top assistant in the league in a recent poll of NBA GMs. If the Nets are looking for a “fresh face” as the Daily News reported Friday, Shaw could very well be their guy.

Lionel Hollins: The Nets have been granted permission to interview Hollins, ESPN.com reported earlier this week, but Brooklyn has not spoken to him. Hollins did a terrific job in Memphis this past season, guiding the Grizzlies to the Western Conference finals. Still, it seems like he’s not as high on the Nets’ list as Shaw. Hollins could have interest from the Clippers and Nuggets as well.

George Karl: A league source told ESPNNewYork.com that it’s “highly unlikely” that the Nets will reach out to Karl, who won Coach of the Year honors, about their vacancy. Karl’s 80-105 career playoff record isn’t very intriguing to the Nets, who have their sights set on winning a championship and fulfilling owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s five-year plan, which has been reduced to two. Perhaps the veteran coach ends up in Los Angeles or Memphis.

Other big names: The Nets reached out to Jeff Van Gundy and reportedly Larry Brown, but there doesn’t appear to be any traction there.

Shooting for the stars: The team’s coaching search began with a call to Phil Jackson, but the 11-time coaching champion said thanks but no thanks. Then the Nets tried to call the Celtics for permission to talk to Doc Rivers, but were rebuffed.

Mystery candidate: Maybe the Nets decide to make a run at someone whose name hasn’t surfaced yet, perhaps a coach overseas or another assistant like Shaw. At this point, nothing would surprise us. The draft is in two weeks, but the Nets don’t feel any pressure to hire a coach by then.

Will Nets go after George Karl?

June, 6, 2013
6/06/13
11:49
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George KarlChris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsGeorge Karl is a free agent, the Denver Nuggets announced Thursday.
Updated at 3:16 p.m.: A league source confirmed to ESPN NewYork.com that the Nets are "highly unlikely" to pursue George Karl for their head-coaching vacancy.

The Brooklyn Nets have to consider George Karl for their head coaching vacancy, right?

Karl, who just won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award after guiding the Nuggets to 57 wins, has been let go in Denver, the team announced Thursday.

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Instantly, Karl becomes the best free-agent coach out there. And if the Nets are after a “big name,” Karl certainly fits the bill.

It is unknown if the Nets will reach out to Karl, but they certainly should. Brooklyn’s No. 1 target to replace P.J. Carlesimo, at least up until this news broke, was Brian Shaw.

It was reported the Clippers were interested in both Karl and Shaw for their vacancy.

So what type of impact will this have on the Nets? Does it clear the way for Shaw to come to Brooklyn? And where does Lionel Hollins fit in all of this?

After all, the Nuggets now have a very attractive opening as well.

It should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Should the Nets go after Karl? How do you think their coaching search will play out? Let us know in the comments section below.

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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