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

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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 ESPN.com.

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.