No Lionel Hollins? Well, that might very well mean no Mike Conley, either.
Although the Nets will be in need of a point guard at the end of this season and Conley is arguably the best free agent at that position, it could very well take more than money to woo the Memphis player. It could take someone who the Nets fired in January.
“It’s tough” to consider the Nets without Hollins, who served as head coach of the Grizzlies from 2009 to 2013 before leaving for the Nets. “I’ll give everybody the fair shot. Lionel being here obviously was a big reason to look, but still, at the same time, with him gone, I’ll give everybody the same look.”
Conley was drafted by the Grizzlies in 2007 and isn’t shy about his evolving relationship with Hollins, who can be brusque and, Conley said, didn’t take it easy on him or his teammates. But when the Grizzlies made the playoffs for the first time in five years, one year into Hollins’ tenure, it was easy to see why that particular group of young players bought in. Hollins had considerably less success with this crop of Nets.
“I’m not going to say I liked him when we first picked him up,” Conley said. “He’s very hard, a hard coach . . . our group was, and still is — we have a lot of personalities, a lot of egos, a lot of wild cards and he was the perfect person to come in when we were all young and kind of rein everybody in.
“That’s very hard to do with a younger team, with guys that are known to have a bad rap and stuff like that and he had the strong mind to pull everybody together.”
Conley said he texted Hollins when he was fired, and he hopes Hollins gets his shot again, since he, in no small measure, credits him with some of his success. “I want him to have an input on people’s careers and change people’s careers, kind of like he did mine,” said Conley, who entered Wednesday’s game averaging 14.8 points and 6.1 assists. Without personal ties, Conley’s decision will be practical.
“I want to win,” he said. “I want to be somewhere that’s committed to doing that.”
That somewhere might even be the Knicks. Conley said Derek Fisher’s firing and the Knicks volatile coaching situation won’t affect his decision come the summer. “I’ll give everybody the same attention,” he said.