(Reuters) - Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins believes his year away from the bench will help him during the 2014-15 National Basketball Association season.
Hollins, introduced to the media on Monday after being hired last week to replace Jason Kidd, worked the past season as a TV commentator after parting ways with the Memphis Grizzlies following four full seasons as their head coach.
“I was able to stay connected to the game and see the changes and how the game was changing and how I wanted to move forward if I got another opportunity,” Hollins told reporters at Barclays Center, the home of the Nets.
“It’s just helped me grow, and helped me understand a lot of the teams,” added Hollins. “It just gives me better insight.”
Hollins, 60, has also seen the game as an NBA point guard, having played for five different teams over a 10-year career that included an NBA title with Portland in 1977.
The Brooklyn job became available last week after Kidd was denied a request for authority over Brooklyn player personal decisions following his first season as a head coach.
The Milwaukee Bucks sent a pair of future second-round draft picks to the Nets to allow Kidd out of his contract, so the Bucks could hire him to a lucrative deal.
Hollins said he was happy to focus on directing the players on the floor.
“That’s all I want to do. I’m a basketball coach. I don’t want to do (general manager) Billy King’s job. I don’t want to do anybody else’s job in the organization but the one I’m hired to do,” said Hollins.
Hollins guided Memphis to the playoffs in each of his last three seasons at the helm, and in his final campaign led the team to the 2013 Western Conference finals.
He compiled a career coaching record of 214-201, all with Memphis, before management decided to bring in a new coach.
With Memphis, Hollins helped develop young talent including Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley Jr.
When asked about the Nets, Hollins emphasized core players such as Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson on a team that last year also featured veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce but struggled through injuries.
“When I look at this team, I see veteran players that can score,” he said. “I want to play at a quicker pace, even quicker than last year, but I don’t want to run up the court and jack up shots. I want to be aggressive.”
King said he always respected the way Hollins’ teams played.
“The one thing that always stood out about Lionel is his teams, they win,” King said.”When Rudy Gay got hurt, they won. When Zach (Randolph) got hurt, they won.
“When we played Memphis, we knew it was going to be a dogfight, his guys were going to play hard.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue