San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Three

Lionel Hollins frontrunner as Nets expected to move quickly to find new coach


Back 25 games into the NBA season, when the Nets reportedly were having second thoughts about hiring Jason Kidd as their coach, Lionel Hollins was the name that kept coming up as a replacement. Instead, the Nets stayed the course (and the ship did turn around).

Now that Jason Kidd’s power play has landed him as the coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s Hollins name that is heard loudest as a possible replacement.

The Nets will move quickly, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard.

“In a lot of ways, he makes the most sense,” a league source said of Hollins. “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.”

Ettore Messina, former coach of CSKA Moscow, also is a leading contender for the Nets’ opening, a source told

Mark Jackson and George Karl would each like to insert their name into the conversation as well.

Hollins would be a radical departure in style from Kidd — Hollins is old school, an authoritarian coach. How that would fly with the Nets’ veteran roster is an interesting question. How he deals with the hoards of New York media around every day is another (he’s not in Memphis anymore).

What this means for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett is another twist to this tale. Pierce is an unrestricted free agent starting Tuesday and while the Nets want to keep him other contending teams (Clippers, Heat) are reported to have some interest. Will Pierce look at the changes in Brooklyn and decide the grass is greener elsewhere? If he bolts Brooklyn there is a reasonable chance Kevin Garnett changes his mind (he’s reportedly been leaning toward coming back) and retires.

There’s a lot up in the air in Brooklyn right now, but at least Jason Kidd is now somebody else’s problem.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.