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Lionel Hollins trying to define Nets players' roles

Lionel Hollins speaks to the media during a

Lionel Hollins speaks to the media during a news conference at the Barclays Center in New York, Monday, July 7, 2014. Hollins was introduced as the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - A soothing feeling had to waft throughout the body of more than a few Nets when coach Lionel Hollins delivered one of his many messages at practice Wednesday.

In dealing with rookie coach Jason Kidd last season, some players clearly were frustrated by the lack of clarity regarding their role, which became more apparent during these first few days of training camp with Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko mentioning how they were unsure where they fit in Kidd's scheme.

That doesn't appear to be an issue under Hollins, who continues to lay the groundwork, getting a feel for his team so he can deliver an edict on precisely what he wants from each of them.

"I think that's something coach talked about today," Deron Williams said, "was kind of we haven't talked about roles specifically this year. But they'll be defined at some point during the preseason. I think that's what this time is about, is finding out chemistry and what team we're going to be like, what guys like to do.

"Part of that is finding our roles, and I think coach will do a good job of defining those roles."

With a few interchangeable and versatile pieces on his roster, Hollins needs a good glimpse at certain combinations in live action. Only then will he be able to really gauge the strength and weakness of each unit and better understand which players may have to alter their approach so they can be molded into a productive, winning unit.

Breaking down exactly what he's looking for from each piece of his jigsaw puzzle is a no-brainer to Hollins, yet one more way he's leaving his fingerprints all over this team.

"That's part of anything you do," Hollins said. "You go get a job, what's my role? That's a big part of it. You know your role and you know where you fit in, then you can do your job to the best of your ability. If you don't know where you're supposed to be, then it's tough."

Having that mental comfort, as Alan Anderson put, makes it "a lot easier. You know what you come out here to do. It's that simple."

It's another example of the Nets adapting to life with Hollins, an old-school coach with six years of NBA coaching experience who goes about things in a way the players appreciate. Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of Kidd's first practice as Nets coach -- another indicator of the disparity in bench experience between Hollins and his predecessor.

"Two different coaches," Anderson said. "Kidd's first year was last year. Coach Hollins has been around for a while and has a lot of history, won a lot. So you can tell, you can see that. But it's spreading onto us, so we are mentally getting tougher each day. Physically, you can try to ice and do the things to keep your body right. But mentally, that's the first part. We are trying to get right first mentally."

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