LA Lakers Head Coach Search: Lionel Hollins

A look at potential LA Lakers coach Lionel Hollins.




Last worked as:

Memphis head coach (2013)

Greatest achievement as coach:

Western Conference Finals with Memphis Grizzlies (2013)

Greatest achievement as player:

Winning NBA championship (1977)

Why he’s a good fit:

Lionel Hollins has shown that he has the know-how and the man management skills to take a raw set of players and mould them into championship contending material. In Memphis he had a team that wasn’t very good and improved their record every single year. There was talent in the group but it was young and unpolished; Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay. Hollins clearly takes pride in developing of young players and shows that he has the patience to build a team from scratch. It won’t matter much to him if the roster isn’t upgraded quickly because he’s been in charge of a rebuild before.

In addition he indicates that he is adaptable in regard to playing style. He says that initially at Memphis he wanted the team to play at a fast place. When he realised the team wasn’t great at managing the game at that pace he built the team around the talents of the big man pairing of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. In fat he makes it clear he doesn’t want to be pigeon holed as a defensive coach that prefers a slow throwback style of game, wishing only to be aligned with the team’s toughness and aggressiveness.

Why he’s not:

The way in which he clashed with management on his way out raises a red flag. He made public his disdain toward the statistic heavy approach taken by the front office, especially John Hollinger who was an ESPN advanced stats guru before joining Memphis. He also made public his unhappiness with their decision to trade away Rudy Gay and, as he acknowledged later Memphis understandably, were furious with his remarks to the media, and this most likely factored into their decision to let Hollins go.

Hollins is an old school coach, the demanding type that won’t think twice to confront a player in a noisy way. There should be serious questions about whether Kobe Bryant is willing to tolerate this style of handling players.

Quirky, but slightly relevant:

He was part of the youngest team ever to win the NBA championship. The team, featuring Bill Walton, had an average age of 24.5 years