Nets fire head coach Avery Johnson
Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King announced Thursday that the team has fired head coach Avery Johnson.
Hoopsvibe’s quick call: The Nets fell apart in December and Johnson took the fall.
In today’s world, no one’s job is safe. Just ask Avery Johnson. Johnson was the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for October and November but the team’s dismal December performance has resulted in Johnson’s firing today, a few days before the New Year. This makes Johnson the second head coach to be fired this season; the Lakers sent Mike Brown packing in early November and have since replaced him with Mike D’Antoni.
The Nets started the season 11-4, which included a big win against their cross-town first place rival New York Knicks. Since then, however, saying the Nets have struggled would be almost an understatement. They’ve lost 10 of their last 13 games and currently stand with a .500 winning percentage, at 14-14 on the season.
Only winning three of their last 13 prompted Johnson’s release.
“We don’t have the same fire now than we did when we were 11-4,” said general manager Billy King at a press conference Thursday. “I tried to talk to Avery about it and we just can’t figure it out. The same pattern kept on happening … With the direction we were going we felt we had to make a change.”
The team announced that assistant coach, P.J. Carlesimo, will be the interim head coach until they find a more permanent replacement.
It’s pretty obvious, though, that the team’s poor play as of late should not soley rest on the shoulders of Avery Johnson. All-Star point guard Deron Williams is having the worst year of his career. Williams, who publicly criticized Johnson’s isolation-centric offense, is shooting career lows from the field as well as behind the arc. Furthermore, when Brooklyn was playing their best ball of the season, they suffered what has proved to be a serious setback when center Brook Lopez sprained his left foot, missing seven games as a result. The Nets have posted a 2-5 record since Lopez’ return.
But after the Celtics embarrassed the Nets 93-76 on Christmas Day, the writing was on the wall. “Nets fans deserved better,” tweeted Nets CEO Brett Yormark.
The question now becomes, where will the Nets go from here? There are a slieu of top-caliber head coaches available for pursuit, including Van Gundy brothers Stan and Jeff, Jerry Sloan, Mike Dunleavy, Flip Saunders and the Zen-Master himself, Phil Jackson, among others. But given the fact that the team spent about $330 million juicing up their roster this offseason, who knows what resources would be made available to bring in one of the all-time greats.
Johnson joined the New Jersey Nets two years ago with a remarkable 194-70 record as a head coach (at .735 it was the best winning percentage in NBA history at the time) but has gone just 60-116 since. He led the Dallas Mavericks to an appearance in the NBA Finals in 2006.
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