Three Man Weave: Week 15 Edition
After the litany of distractions that surrounded the Brooklyn Nets last week, the team played hard in their two losses against Eastern Conference playoff teams. The presence of trade rumors have been a constant throughout the 2014-15 season, but an ESPN report early Monday changed the conversation to Lionel Hollins, and ownership’s concerns about the team’s competitiveness under Hollins in his first season as head coach of the Nets.
Monday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers was postponed until early April due to the snowstorm, but the Nets hung around in Atlanta in an 11-point loss that doubled as the Hawks’s 18th-consecutive win. The red-hot Hawks led pretty comfortably for the majority of it but the Nets got strong games out of Joe Johnson (26 points on 19 shots in 37 minutes), Brook Lopez (18 points on 11 shots in 31 minutes off the bench), and Alan Anderson (15 points and 6 assists in 36 minutes in a starting role).
On Friday night at the Barclays Center the Nets took the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors to overtime (+9 in scoring in the fourth quarter), before giving up some late offensive rebound put-backs to Amir Johnson, in a 127-122 loss. Brook Lopez again played well off the bench (35 points and 12 boards in 41 minutes) and Jarrett Jack exploded for a near-triple double (35 points, 8 rebounds, and 13 assists) in playing all-but 47 seconds of the game, but the offensive rebounds from Toronto bigs and perimeter scoring of DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams were ultimately too much for the Nets to overcome.
Towards the middle of my game recap of Friday’s overtime loss to Toronto I half-jokingly asked which Nets rumors would leak next to Marc Stein and/or Ohm Youngmisuk, given the Nets’ four-game losing streak and the relationship between Nets losing streaks and trade leaks. Sure enough, Monday’s rumor du jour involved the Denver Nuggets and Brook Lopez, with Marc Stein reporting that Nets general manager Billy King turned down an offer of Lopez for a package of Javale McGee, J.J. Hickson, and a (non-Nuggets) first-round pick.
The Brooklyn Nets will play four games this week, starting Monday night against the Los Angeles Clippers (spoiler: the Nets won!). On Wednesday they’ll travel to Toronto for some payback against the Raptors, and then play a back-to-back Friday against the New York Knicks and in Washington Saturday. That Saturday game in Washington will serve as the beginning of their eight-game road trip, and last week on The Weave we highlighted the need to beat the few bad teams they’ll see in the next 10 games or so, beginning Friday with the Knicks.
On this week’s edition of the Three Man Weave, our three experts will have the opportunity to address the latest Brook Lopez trade rumor and the ESPN report last week on Lionel Hollins and his “in-season evaluation”, that released too late to make it to Week 14’s panel. As I addressed in the open last week, Hollins’s status with the team is probably safe, with him barely a full season into a guaranteed four-year deal (with the fourth a team option), but our writers this week will cover the head coach’s performance with the 18-28 Brooklyn Nets and what the report’s implications are to general manager Billy King and his job performance.
Monday vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Wednesday @ Toronto
Friday vs. New York
Saturday @ Washington
1.) On last week’s Weave we were too late to cover the reported discontent in the Brooklyn Nets organization and the launch of an “in-season evaluation” conducted by ownership and concerning head coach Lionel Hollins. How would you evaluate Hollins’s performance so far, in his first season with the Nets?
David Vertsberger: I think he’s been okay. It was only about one or two weeks ago that the Nets were a top-12 defensive team, but things have gone off the rails since. A lot of his in-game decisions and rotations baffle me, and the offense struggles to hold up for all 48 minutes. There are lots of problems with this Brooklyn team, but I don’t think Hollins is a major one at all.
Josh Koebert: You have to call it disappointing. He was handed the core of a team that won a first round playoff series last year and has shown a complete inability to get similar results out of it. On one hand, it’s his first year with these players so you expect a little bit of a learning curve as he feels out the roster and vice versa, but then you remember that last year was Jason Kidd’s first year as a coach period and he had already started his turnaround by this point (speaking of, how good of a coach is Kidd? Like, a really good one right? Given the Nets from last year and what he’s doing with the Yung Bucks, a particular pattern is emerging in terms of his sideline abilities). It’ll always feel a bit unfair when a first-year coach is on the hot seat, but given the situation he walked in to, it’s not surprising. In the preseason predictions I was one of the more pessimistic staffers, and I still only put their floor at 35 wins, and they’re on their way to worse than that even. All of which is to say Hollins’s performance can be summed up as: ew, gross.
Jack Moore: How would I evaluate Lionel Hollins’s performance thus far? Think of the Titanic meets Hurricane Katrina meets Weekend at Bernie’s 2.
2.) What can this report by Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk tell us about Billy King and his relationship with his head coach and with ownership, and to his job security as general manager? Should he be included in ownership’s evaluation?
Verts: Oh, Billy King. Why he remains untouchable, I don’t know. All I have to say on that topic.
Koebert: Why is Billy King still here? What kind of pictures does he have of Prokhorov and, following that hypothetical train of thought, what POSSIBLE situation would be bad enough that pictures of it would allow you to successfully blackmail one of the most shameless, doesn’t-give-a-shit human beings in existence? He should absolutely be included in any evaluation, and the conclusion should be to fire this man. Fire this man immediately.
Moore: “Yeah”- Marshawn Lynch
3.) Brook Lopez has been no stranger to trade rumors this season, with today’s nixed Denver Nuggets trade the most recent example. Does Lopez get moved in the next three weeks before the NBA’s trade deadline? Should he?
Verts: I’d say so. Would just be odd for all these talks to happen and nothing to come of it. As for should they, yes. Mason Plumlee’s the best young piece Brooklyn has and Lopez plays the same position. Lopez is injury-prone, expensive and may be able to be dealt for a… what are these things called… the Sixers and Celtics have a ton of them… daft ticks? Something like that.
Koebert: He’s got to get moved. Smoke, fire, etc. This is a team going nowhere, and a drastic rebuild is necessary, and even though Brook is probably the single best roster piece to keep around through such a process, I just can’t see anyone being safe given the circumstances. If they can get some cap space and/or desperately needed draft picks (“Thanks Billy! Enjoy Iso Joe!”-Atlanta), he’s outta here.
Moore: Bropez is gone. Let’s all welcome Born Ready and Perk (I hope).