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January 26, 2015 Updates

The Brooklyn Nets, increasingly worried about the team's recent lack of competitiveness, have launched an in-season evaluation of various facets of the team, including new coach Lionel Hollins, according to league sources. ‎The Nets lost consecutive road games last week to the Los Angeles Clippers ‎and Utah Jazz by 39 and 35 points, respect‎ively, sparking concern within the organization about whether Hollins' message is getting through. It's just the fifth time in NBA history that a team has lost back-to-back games by 35 points or more. ESPN.com

Nets ownership, sources said, is monitoring the situation closely, with Brooklyn having just fallen out of the East's top eight thanks to a 2-10 slide that coincides with ‎the franchise being up for sale. ESPN.com

Sources say locker-room tensions between the outspoken coach and some of his players are rising as the Nets continue to falter, with sources telling ESPNNY.com's Mike Mazzeo that Hollins' public criticism of various players this season -- such as Lopez and fellow big man Mason Plumlee -- has rankled ownership. ESPN.com

As brilliant an analyst as Jeff Van Gundy is, there's little question he has a pro-coach agenda. While criticism towards players and executives is common in his commentary during TV and radio broadcasts, you rarely ever hear him say anything negative about coaching staffs. This pattern has been clear when discussing the Bulls' management dealings with the team's last two head coaches - Vinny Del Negro and Tom Thibodeau. HoopsHype

As far as I know, the only media member to suggest the hot seat theory in writing was Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com, a national NBA site. Van Gundy seems to believe Bulls management promoted this idea behind the scenes, but let's let JVG speak for himself. “He has done such a good job here," Van Gundy said during the broadcast. "First two years had the best record in the league. Unfortunately, these last three playoffs have been disrupted by injury. But he came to the Bulls at a time where mediocrity reigned. They had struggled for a long time, they were basically a .500 team. Along with the emergence of some players, he's taken it to elite status. “I think right now, it's almost criminal … what he's having to endure with some of the fringe media – attacking his job status, attacking his personality. This isn't new to Chicago Bulls basketball, all the way back to Phil Jackson. The team has publicly supported their coach while privately, often times, undermining that same person. You saw it with Vinny Del Negro, Scott Skiles. Think about it, they ran out Phil Jackson out after winning all those championships. “I think it's wrong. It's wrong for the town, wrong for the team and it certainly has not been fair to Tom Thibodeau." Arlington Heights Daily Herald

Van Gundy went on to spread his criticism to the Chicago media. “Listen, I read every Chicago story and there is no doubt that the Bulls organization has the media, with a few exceptions, in their hip pocket," he said. "And for whatever reason, they have taken their sights on Thibodeau when all he's done is deliver greatness here in his five years." Arlington Heights Daily Herald

Asked if he feels he has management's support, Thibodeau said: "I'm fine. I don't get wrapped up in that stuff. That's (Van Gundy's) opinion. He's paid to give opinions. He has to do his job. I try to do my job. I'm just trying to work here. ... My job is to coach the team. That's what I worry about. (Van Gundy) doesn't speak for me. I don't speak for him." Chicago Tribune

Look, Thibodeau is a workaholic when it comes to preparation and effort and he expects his players to do the same -- wait, no, he believes in that as the surest way to success. Every player in uniform is at his disposal, which might make some linger a little longer now in street clothes when they've been hurting. Management's imposed limits on minutes, for Derrick Rose and Noah in particular, has led to the coach straining some at the leash. He and his bosses have had frictions in the past, though GM Gar Forman dismissed this week's drama as any sort of story. NBA.com

Besides, the idea that, merely halfway through a season begun with championship hopes, the locker room would be on the verge of mutiny vs. Thibodeau -- who'd be snatched up in 48 hours to steer some other contenders' defense toward the Finals, if he wanted that -- was silly. At best, if the "insiders say" stuff were true, it would reveal an immaturity and lack of seriousness within the ranks. NBA.com

"This don't have anything to do with Thibs at all," Rose said. " The way we've been playing don't have anything to do with Thibs. He's preparing us right. Everything he's doing, everything he did, everything possible to prepare us as a coach. It's up to the players to give the effort." NBA.com

January 25, 2015 Updates
January 23, 2015 Updates

Players don't question their relationship with you, which seems unique. Someone with the team told me you're the "personal touch" the team has needed through the years, especially for Kevin and Russell. How do you keep the guys motivated? Scott Brooks: I tell the players all the time, "I don't have the answers, you don't have the answers, but let's figure them out together." A lot of times they have great suggestions, and sometimes they don't, and you've got to let them know. I've always felt that the way you establish a relationship with your team is to always have a connection with the guys. I sometimes do free-throw competitions with them, but I'm still learning what really motivates the guys. People always say, "Are you a players' coach or not?" I say, "I'm a fair coach." If you give great effort to the team, I will do everything in my power to make it work. Luckily for me, Kevin, Russell and our leaders are great examples for all of our players. So very rarely do I have to coach the effort and get on guys. Bleacher Report

How alike and different are Kevin and Russell? Scott Brooks: They're both so competitive. Russell shows his competitiveness in a physical presence way. He wants you to know that he's coming at you and he doesn't like you and he doesn't care about what you think, where Kevin's competitiveness comes from, "Watch me. I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to do, but I'm going to be better than you." It's really a unique combination and they do a great job of really complementing each other. Early on in their careers, and I still do it occasionally, I put them on different teams in practice to see who can rally their teammates to beat the other guy. And they get after it. It makes the scrimmages much more intense. Bleacher Report

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