The Lakers will reportedly add Lionel Hollins as an assistant coach on Frank Vogel’s staff, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Hollins is best known for ushering in the “grit and grind” era as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and last coached in the league in Brooklyn for a season and a half in Brooklyn when he was let go in the 2015-16 season after a 10-27 record to start that campaign. For his career, Hollins has a head coaching record of 262-272 and spent 17 years as an assistant in Phoenix, Vancouver, and Memphis before those jobs as a head man.
That time as an assistant matters, of course, since that’s the job he’s taking in Los Angeles, but his overall experience will be a good resource for these Lakers regardless. One of the issues the Lakers had under Luke Walton was a lack of “NBA lifers” on the coaching staff, but Hollins (and, really, Jason Kidd) will fill that role for sure. Hollins had a nice career as a player before his time on the bench, spending 10 years in the league with his most well known stint coming as a member of the Portland Trailblazers where he was a key contributor on Portland’s 1977-78 championship team.
Getting back to his coaching, Hollins is known as a no-nonsense, tell it like it is guy very much reflective of the era he came up in. This approach manifested itself in the type of basketball those Grizzlies played, hard nosed, defense first, and a general blue collar approach personified by guys like Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Tony Allen. Hollins, then, would seem to be a nice supporting piece to Vogel, who has vowed to coach this Lakers team hard while creating a culture of honesty and accountability.
Ultimately, I like the Hollins hire from the standpoint of his experience and general value system of expecting a team to play hard while competing defensively. These things are important and another voice in the room to communicate and reinforce these ideas is always useful. On the flip side, however, Hollins’ teams were never a beacon of offensive innovation and his influence on that end for these Lakers might be better informed by his time as player on those teamwork heavy Blazers that were anchored by Bill Walton or his time as an assistant on those early 90’s Suns teams that were led by head coach Paul Westphal and played an uptempo style who did not shy away from shooting the long ball with Dan Majerle, Danny Ainge, Eddie Johnson, and Kevin Johnson working the perimeter. This was a long time ago, though.
In other words, I’m very interested to see who else is added to Vogel’s staff. I think Hollins, like Kidd, brings very identifiable strengths and obvious question marks. Question marks that can, hopefully, be addressed with whoever else fills out the staff and, to be fair, by Vogel himself who is manning the lead chair.