Brooklyn Nets Fire Avery Johnson
The Brooklyn Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson after a disappointing 14-14 start. The Nets came out of the gates firing on all cylinders with a record of 11-4 and Johnson was even named November’s Eastern Conference Coach of the Month, however after a 3-10 in December stretch the team’s Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s patience quickly wore thin.
When Prokhorov obtained principal ownership of the Nets in 2010 he believed the Nets would win an NBA Championship in five years. The Nets then made their much-publicized move from New Jersey to Brooklyn this season to play in the billion-dollar Barclays Center, and also signed a number of veteran players such as Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kim Kardashian's ex-husband Kris Humphries (pictured) to long-term, expensive contracts, and also traded for Joe Johnson and his $19.7 million salary. The roster upgrades amounted to roughly $330 million.
Despite the seemingly free-spending ways, Johnson acknowledged that he was in a tough win-now position as the Nets had not extended his contract beyond this year.
“In this business, you got to have the power, in terms of the ability to coach — and the respect,” Johnson said in his final press conference, The New York Times reports. “It would help if you do have a contract that the players respect. That’s the nature of our business.”
Johnson's loose footing was exacerbated by the fact that his struggling team appeared to be souring on him. All-Star guard Williams has shouldered much of the blame as he publicy complained about the team's offensive schemes and has a history of icy coaching relationships. However, Nets management has been quick to defend Williams, who also said publicy he did not orchestrate Johnson's firing.
"To pinpoint this all on Deron is not fair," Nets General Manger Billy King said, ESPN reports. "He was not the deciding factor in this decision. It was something in talking with ownership we didn't like the direction we were going."
For the time being, P.J. Carlesimo will serve as interim head coach, while the Nets look for other coaching options like Jerry Sloan, Nate McMillian, Jeff Van Gundy, recently-fired Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown and, on the very off chance, 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson.