John Hollinger Rumors

As John Hollinger wrote in 2009, there’s a new motto in today’s NBA: Live by the 3 or die. “Few stats correlate better with winning than 3-point attempts,” he wrote. “We all know if you don’t shoot the 3, you’re probably not going to win,” says Popovich, whose Spurs set an NBA Finals record for 3s last year. “Everybody in the league shoots the 3-point shot well and knows the importance. “I still hate it.”
“I want to be perfectly clear, I have no problems with analytics. I expressed that to management here. If there is a sophisticated mechanism to help us win, I’m all for it. But there has to be a balance. I don’t think basketball is as numbers-oriented as baseball, for instance. A coach knows who he can count upon at different times during a game. It’s why I trusted Zach (Randolph) to walk up there and make free throws at the end of a game. It’s a feeling that has nothing to do with numbers. The experiences a coach has cannot be discarded completely.”
“I have no problems with John,” Hollins says. “I have no problems with analytics. The only problem I have is with the idea there’s just one way to do things. You look for every advantage and whatever tools you can utilize to help your team be better. Part of that is having relationships with the players I have to deal with every day. “It’s not just numbers. I’m dealing with emotions and egos and sensitivities and insecurities. It’s easy to say these guys need to play so many minutes and this group is the best group to have on the floor at the particular time. It’s not cut and dried like that.
In 1998, you applied to be the general manager of the Denver Nuggets—while working for the Post. This has always struck me as a conflict of interest. Tell me why I’m wrong. And do you think you would have/could have had a fruitful career as a GM. Peter Vecsey.: I was always told, you’ve got to have at least two conflicts of interest to be successful. Pro sports has plenty of former sportswriters-turned executives. The Knicks were started by Ned Irish. The latest example was John Hollinger leaving ESPN to become VP of basketball operations of Memphis. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to pursue front office or coaching, as long as it’s during the off-season? I tried to put together group to buy the Nuggets in the early ’80s … tried to get Rick Pitino to hire me as GM when he was running the Celtics … approached Larry Brown about helping him in Washington when he was close to coaching the Wizards … had an interview on tap as Hawks’ GM just before Stan Kasten left … and had a very brief interview with James Dolan to be Isiah Thomas’ GM. I am positive I would’ve been an asset to one and all.
Most Griz fans probably are not familiar with Dave Mincberg. He began the ownership/management transition — alongside former agents Jason Levien and Stu Lash, and ESPN writer John Hollinger — as the team’s lead attorney much like Stan Meadows was to former owner Michael Heisley. Now, there are rumblings that Mincberg’s role has been greatly reduced as Levien deals with his first internal snag. I’m hearing that Mincberg ruffled feathers with his unwanted ambition that included a desire to effectively become the team’s general manager.
Why abandon a style that won 56 games last season? One scout attributed it to the fact that analytics suggest more possessions—i.e., playing faster—and more drive-and-kick opportunities produce more efficient offensive numbers. There’s also the matter of having dumped veteran coach Lionel Hollins for the neophyte Joerger, in part because Hollins wasn’t enthralled with having front-office numbers-crunchers telling him what offensive sets he should use. Randolph, without outright saying so, apparently felt the same way. He’s as easygoing a superstar as you will meet, but he clearly enjoys all that comes with being a superstar. That includes traveling with four phones, including three smart phones, and having the ringtone on one as the ding-ding-ding of a winning slot machine. That also includes letting it be known, by deed more than word, about what sort of offense best suits him.
Several league sources, meanwhile, said that first-year coach Dave Joerger is getting considerable direction from the top of the team masthead, including everyone from owner Robert Pera to VP John Hollinger. “They’re suggesting lineups,” said one league source. “Aggressively.” One scout said, “It looked as if Joerger was trying to put his stamp on them and the players resisted. They were like, ‘The other way worked, so why change?’ I know they wanted to play faster, but they don’t have that kind of team. They grind.”
Hollinger joined the Grizzlies last December. A month later, the team raised eyebrows by trading away Gay, its leading scorer and most popular player. The criticism was loud in many NBA circles, but Memphis remained steady, entered the playoffs as a fifth-seed and upset the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder to reach the conference finals. Hollinger declined to specifically address Gay but said in general, “I think there’s a better understanding of what is a high-value player or a high-value shot versus just what looks good.” Gay told last month: “Honestly, how I view it, a computer can’t tell talent. It just can’t. When it comes down to it, it’s all about winning, and however you get the win.”
Every team will receive a base package of data and analysis, and some will pay for a deeper dive and more video integration. They’ll all figure out their own way to use the information, but teams will finally be able to “quantify what hasn’t been quantifiable,” said Brian Kopp, the senior vice president at STATS. For example, if a player is within 10 feet of 30 potential rebounds but only pulled down three, coaches will know he’s well behind league average, which is 15. “A lot of these statistics are very indicative of effort,” said Steve Hellmuth, the NBA’s executive vice president of operations and technology “and also indicative of whether players are doing what coaches are instructing them to do.”
Similar to what foreign soccer leagues have been doing for several years, the NBA and STATS, the data firm that services every NBA team, will use the cameras to quantify and analyze every movement of every game throughout the entire season. Recording from the rafters, the six cameras will document everything, capturing speed, distance, player separation, sets, plays, passes — areas that have never before appeared in the standard box score. “It’s going to have a big impact,” said John Hollinger, vice president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, “and the scary thing is, we don’t know how. It’s too early. I just hope I figure it out before everybody else does.”
Hollins acknowledged that he confronted Hollinger after Hollinger walked onto the court and engaged forward Austin Daye during a practice, an incident first reported by Yahoo Sports. Hollins said the report was overblown. “John and I talked about it afterwards, and we laughed about it,” Hollins said. “I just reacted I didn’t know who it was. I didn’t care who it was. If it was President Obama, I probably would have reacted the same way. It wasn’t my motive to show management that I run things. It had nothing to with anything other than that I reacted to somebody jumping on the court.”
During the Grizzlies’ playoff run, tensions turned to a confrontation when Hollins exploded during a practice session upon finding Hollinger had walked onto the practice court and engaged forward Austin Daye during a shooting drill, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports. With the team watching – and with a motive to show his players that he was completely in charge on the floor, sources said – Hollins loudly questioned Hollinger about what he was doing, and why he believed it was appropriate for a management official to intrude on what’s considered sacred territory for a coach and team, sources said.