What the Nets are getting in Lionel Hollins is a man who has been around the basketball block enough to know what's around the corner.
That includes successfully dealing with hypertension in a high-stress business. At a blood-pressure awareness seminar in Memphis two weeks ago, Hollins described being pulled aside by a doctor during the 1983-84 season with the Detroit Pistons, one of his five NBA teams in a 10-year playing career.
"He told me I needed to get my blood pressure under control," Hollins said. "I am not talking about a person that was out of shape or overweight. I was in the prime of my life, only 27 years old."
Now 60, Hollins could be in the prime of his coaching life, having led the Memphis Grizzlies to the 2013 Western Conference finals -- the most successful season in that franchise's 19-year history (the first six based in Vancouver).
But all was not rosy for Hollins, who did not have his contract renewed after he was publicly critical when the front office traded away Rudy Gay ("When you have a champagne taste, you can't be on a beer budget," Hollins said) and when Grizzlies exec John Hollinger approached players with an emphasis on statistics.
For 17 years an NBA assistant, Hollins twice endured stints as interim coach of the Grizzlies before at last getting the job full-time in January 2009. Then, in his four full seasons at the helm beginning in November 2009 and including lockout-shortened 2011-12, his teams were 183-129.
He spent all of the past year unemployed despite interviews with the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. This offseason, he also talked to the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves before taking the Nets' job.
Hollins' basketball bona fides were established long ago. He starred for his high school team in Las Vegas, Nevada, and, after two years at Dixie Community College (now Dixie State University) in St. George, Utah, Hollins was an All-American point guard at Arizona State (and a charter member of that school's athletic hall of fame).
He was the sixth overall pick in the 1975 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers and point guard on the 1977 championship team, which remains that city's only title in major professional sports. Hollins' No. 14 is one of seven retired by the Trail Blazers from that '77 team, along with Bill Walton's 32, Maurice Lucas' 20, Dave Twardzik's 13, Bob Gross' 30, Lloyd Neal's 36 and Larry Steele's 15.
Hollins subsequently played for Philadelphia (where he was teammates with Maurice Cheeks, who later coached under current Nets general manager Billy King), Houston, San Diego (before the Clippers moved to Los Angeles) and Detroit.
Retired from playing, he went immediately into coaching as an assistant at Arizona State, then the Phoenix Suns and Vancouver. In 2003, he was coach of the Las Vegas Bandits in the International Basketball League when the Bandits -- 20-11 at the time -- ran out of money at midseason and folded.
After having played for such notable coaches as Jack Ramsay, Lenny Wilkens, Billy Cunningham, Chuck Daly, Bill Fitch and Paul Silas, he was an assistant under three men who won at least one NBA coach of the year award -- Hubie Brown, Cotton Fitzsimmons and Mike Fratello.
The Grizzlies, under Hollins, were notable for defense -- they held opponents to a league-low 89.3 points per game in 2012-13 -- and for producing most of their offense in the paint. They rarely shot behind the three-point line, averaging a league-low 12.5 attempts per game.
As a player, the 6-3 Hollins himself eschewed the three-pointer (13-for-87, 14.9 percent, in the six seasons after the NBA adopted the shot). He averaged 11.6 points per game (44 percent from the field) and totaled 3.06 career assists.
He is no stranger in basketball land.