The Brooklyn Nets are cleaning house after a disappointing 10-27 start to the season. Brooklyn has fired coach Lionel Hollins less than two years into his tenure with the team, and general manager Billy King will step down after six years with the club, the team announced.
"It's clear from our current state of affairs that we need new leadership," owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement. "With the right basketball management and coach in place, we are going to create a winning culture and identity and give Brooklyn a team that it can be proud of and enjoy watching."
Prokhorov and his closest advisors didn't really approve of King's decision to hire Hollins last summer, according to SB Nation's Nets site Nets Daily. The Nets' slow start rekindled those feelings and caused Prokhorov to make what one source described to Nets Daily as a "face-saving" move.
Assistant Tony Brown will take over the coaching duties for the rest of the season. King will be reassigned within the organization, the team announced. It's unclear who will take over King's job.
Question now asked in the organization, "Who do I report to?" NO warning. NONE.— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) January 10, 2016
King was hired by the Nets in July 2010, three years after his long tenure as 76ers general manager ended. He immediately made big moves to bring stars to Brooklyn, orchestrating a deal for Deron Williams just before the 2011 trade deadline. However, King, while acting at Prokhorov's behest, put the Nets in a major hole by acquiring aging players on big salaries in exchange for the team's future draft picks. Brooklyn does not outright own any of its first-round draft picks until 2019, since King sent them to the Celtics in exchange for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Hollins was hired by the Nets in July 2014 after former head coach Jason Kidd bolted Brooklyn for Milwaukee. The Nets won 38 games that year, but did make the playoffs, only to be knocked out by the Atlanta Hawks. This year's Nets dropped their first seven games and never recovered.
This is the second time in less than three years that a team has decided to move on without Hollins. In June 2013 the Memphis Grizzlies elected not to offer Hollins a new contract, ending his seven-year tenure with them, despite him leading them to the playoffs three straight times and once as far as the conference finals.
There have been rumblings about Hollins' job status since early December when a Russian news outlet -- presumably covering the team due to the presence of Prokhorov -- reported that the Nets had decided to fire Hollins and were just waiting to decide upon a replacement. The team denied that report to Nets Daily and Hollins survived the next few weeks.
"The seat is always hot. It was hot when I sat in it for the first time," Hollins said at the time of that report. "You're hired to be fired. ... It's the nature of this business."