Thursday morning, the Brooklyn Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson. A .500 record would be a major step forward for the New Jersey Nets but the precedent has been set that middle of the pack is not good enough for Brooklyn. The Nets have been crumbling, losing 10 of their last 13 games after starting 11-4 in November when Coach Johnson won Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
Johnson had a successful career with Dallas, winning Coach of the Year and taking the Mavericks to the 2006 Finals. Johnson came to New Jersey in 2010 amidst the team’s move to Brooklyn. He had a combined 60-116 record with the Nets. After the huge overhaul the Nets underwent this last summer, improvement to 14-14 just wasn’t good enough.
Assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo will take over the reigns for Johnson when the Nets face the Bobcats. General Manager Billy King hasn’t said whether or not the Nets would search for another coach saying it’s Carlesimo’s job for now.
However, the Nets will likely attract a big name coach because of their large wallet, talent, and big market. Rumors have been circulating about former Lakers and Bulls coach Phil Jackson but there’s no fact to back that up at this time.
Deron Williams, who was originally traded to the Nets after his rocky relationship with Utah coach Jerry Sloan led Sloan to retire, complained that Johnson’s offense was a problem. Williams said that there’s too much isolation in Johnson’s offense and he much preferred the style of offense run by Sloan. While many people’s first reaction would be to blame Williams for the firing of Johnson, both Billy King and Avery Johnson have said that Deron isn’t to blame for the firing.
“I don’t think it’s fair for anybody to hang this on Deron. He’s one player. We had 15 players, and it’s up to the coach really to try to maximize the team,” Johnson said.
The Nets have an easier schedule coming up but hope to see an improvement in their offense, especially from the backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, against the tough Western Conference opponents of Oklahoma City and San Antonio.