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Nets’ Hollins has his staff in place

Westphal leads group of new assistants for Brooklyn

July 30, 2014 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NBA lifer Paul Westphal will be Lionel Hollins’ right-hand man on the bench next season in Brooklyn
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Paul Westphal was one of the first names off Lionel Hollins’ tongue when he was asked about his basketball influences upon taking the Brooklyn Nets’ head-coaching job earlier this month.

On Wednesday morning, Hollins officially reached back into his coaching past to solidify what he hopes will be a long and successful coaching future here in Downtown Brooklyn.

Westphal was one of six assistant coaches added to the Nets’ staff, according to general manager Billy King, giving Hollins a tried and true NBA lifer to help him navigate the 82-game grind of a regular season, and hopefully, a long run through next year’s playoffs.

Hollins served as an assistant under Westphal in the 1990s, helping the Phoenix Suns reach the 1993 NBA Finals.

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The duo hopes to experience similar success here in our fair borough as the Nets continue to chase the franchise’s first-ever NBA title.

Westphal brings over 20 years of coaching experience to Brooklyn, including three stops as a head coach in Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento.  

After beginning his NBA coaching career as an assistant in Phoenix in 1988, Westphal was named head coach of the Suns in 1992, where he led the Suns to three of their most successful seasons, advancing twice to the conference semifinals and the ’93 Finals.

Westphal was twice selected to serve as head coach of the Western Conference All-Star team in 1993 and 1995.  

In his three and a half seasons as head coach of the Suns, Westphal compiled a 191-88 (.685) record.  He returned to the coaching ranks in 1998, when he led the then-Seattle SuperSonics for parts of three seasons, and was named head coach of the Sacramento Kings in 2009, where he served until early in the 2011-12 season.  

Overall, Westphal holds a career NBA coaching record of 318-279 (.532).  

A five-time NBA All-Star, Westphal also played 12 seasons in the NBA, and was named to the All-NBA First Team three times, All-NBA Second Team once and was a member of the 1974 NBA Champion Boston Celtics.  

The number 10 pick in the 1972 NBA draft out of USC, Westphal averaged 15.6 points and 4.4 assists in 823 NBA games with Boston, Phoenix, Seattle and New York.

Also filling out Hollins’ staff are John Welch, back for a second season with Brooklyn, Tony Brown, Joe Wolf and Jay Humphries.

Jim Sann will also be added as an assistant coach/advance scout on Hollins’ staff.

Welch came to Brooklyn in 2013, following eight seasons as an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets under George Karl.  

Brown joins the Nets after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks under Rick Carlisle.

Wolf enters his sixth season coaching in the NBA after spending five seasons as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks (2008-13), who are now being guided by recently departed Nets coach Jason Kidd.

Humphries joins the Nets after spending 13 years as a coach in the NBA, NBA D-League and overseas.

Sann is currently in his second stint with the Nets organization after working as a New Jersey assistant coach/coaching associate for five seasons (2005-10).  

The Nets also have former Kidd assistant Lawrence Frank under contract, though rumors continue to circulate that he may join Doc Rivers’ staff with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kidd demoted Frank to scouting report duties after the pair seemed to clash on the bench during Brooklyn’s inauspicious 10-21 start last season.

After banning Frank from the bench, the Nets rallied to go 34-19 after New Year’s Day, and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals before being eliminated by the Miami Heat in five games.

Kidd subsequently demanded more power within the confines of the Nets’ hierarchy, leading to his defection to Milwaukee. That opened the door for King to hire Hollins as head coach on July 2.

The Nets are already up to their fourth coach following only two seasons in our fair borough. They hope that Hollins, with Westphal by his side, will be here for significantly longer than any of his three predecessors.

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