Yesterday the Brooklyn Nets fired coach Avery Johnson in the wake of a 14-14 record and after losing 7 of their last 10 games. This was no surprise as there have been rumors that the team’s star player, Deron Williams, was unhappy with Johnson’s system and if the NBA has taught us anything over the years, it is that if a team has to choose between their star and their coach, the coach will lose 90% of the time. The simple truth is that Deron Williams could not thrive in this system and going forward, they need him to lead the team deep into the playoffs. Apparently they could not do so with Johnson, so the firing was justified.
Obviously, Johnson is a good coach, as he took the 2006 Mavericks to the NBA Finals, but he had a problem with their point guard, Devin Harris, who thrived when he was traded, ironically to the Nets. There in may lie the problem, as Avery Johnson was a very good point guard in his day and he may be trying to get his point guards to play like him. He spent a whole career playing a certain style, so he may be pushing his own style on his point guards. But for now, he is gone and PJ Carlesimo is in charge, so hopefully the Nets will start playing up to their potential. They did sign and/or trade for over 300 million dollars worth of contracts during the last off-season, so they cannot be happy with a .500 record. The team has spent vast resources to field a contender, which they simply did not look like with Avery Johnson. A roster of this caliber should not be playing .500 basketball and change was needed.
The next step is picking a new coach and Phil Jackson is reportedly their top choice, but he has denied interest, however it would not be surprising to see him end up in Brooklyn. They are also quite high on Jeff Van Gundy, but regardless, they have an owner willing to spend whatever it takes to win, so hiring a great coach should not be an issue. Jerry Sloan is out for obvious reasons, as Williams and Sloan had their turn in Utah and it did not end well. Whomever they pick needs to play to this team’s strengths, but they should make the playoffs regardless, as they are too good not to.
A new coach should be hired very soon, but hopefully the change will spark the Nets, as they are much better than the way they are playing and if they hire the right guy, they could surprise in the playoffs, as they have one of the better rosters in the East. One thing is for sure, it is a new chapter in Brooklyn and the fans must be hoping that their new coach makes their opening season successful, as the build up took years in the making.