Lionel Hollins says it's important to get Deron Williams healthy and fit
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Lionel Hollins made it clear Monday that his approach to coaching the Nets will differ from Jason Kidd's, on matters as varied as seeking personnel input from management to offering expansive answers to reporters' questions.
But one thing Hollins has in common with Kidd could be crucial to whether he succeeds in Brooklyn:
Like Kidd more than 30 years later with the 2011 Mavericks, Hollins won an NBA title as a point guard for the 1977 Trail Blazers.
And like Kidd, one of his biggest tasks will be helping point guard Deron Williams join their club.
It did not come close to happening last season, another maddening one for the enigmatic Williams. But after surgery on both ankles, the hope is that he will begin the Hollins era as the centerpiece he is being paid to be.
Hollins already has spoken with Williams, who was in Texas, by telephone, and the two agreed to talk face-to-face when Williams next is in New York.
The first steps for Williams, Hollins said, will be regaining his health, followed by his fitness. "I didn't see him that close until last year, when he was hurt a lot,'' Hollins said. "I just see somebody who has to get healthy and get his confidence back in his game . . . You can't not be in shape and be as good as you want to be. You can't be partly healthy and be as good as you want to be.''
That mostly unenlightening response was typical of his introductory news conference on questions of personnel and playing style. Given how quickly he was hired after Kidd departed, and the uncertainty surrounding the futures of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Hollins was limited in what he knew or could say.
He did say he plans to reach out to Garnett, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, but not Pierce, who is a free agent. "I'll let Billy [King, the general manager] deal with that,'' he said.
If veterans such as Garnett and Pierce return, Hollins said, "You have people who have done it and can understand where you're coming from. But the flip side is if you don't have them, you have a bunch of young guys, and it's like molding clay, and that's also a positive.''
Hollins noted the 2013-14 Nets' use of "small ball'' after injuries to Lopez and Garnett, and the fact that the team never got the chance to play the style it originally intended.
The 2014-15 Nets, he said, are likely to play at a quicker pace than either last season's Nets or Hollins' Grizzlies teams.
"But I don't want to run up and down the court and jack up shots,'' he said. "I want to be aggressive. I want to be tough defensively. I want to be tough mentally."