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Where will Nets go from here? | Image courtesy of USA Today
The Brooklyn Nets :BRK-NBA: have gotten off to a .500 start in their first season in the city since moving over from New Jersey. However, their 14-14 mark isnít good enough for club owners and they announced on Dec. 27 they had fired head coach Avery Johnson. The NBA club hired Johnson in the summer of 2010 and signed him to a three-year deal worth $12 million. Reports have said that P.J. Carlesimo, who was Johnsonís assistant coach with the club, will take the reins as interim coach until a permanent replacement can be found.
Billy King, the general manager of the Nets, said the decision to let Johnson go was made by team ownership. King said Johnson was having a hard time communicating with some of his players and they werenít showing the same fire they had earlier in the season. The GM said Carlesimo will take over for the time being and said he didnít have a deadline in place to find a new coach.
Johnson is the second head coach to be released in the NBA so far this season as Mike Brown was sent packing from the Los Angeles Lakers five games into the season in November. Netsí Point Guard Deron Williams criticized the offensive system used by Johnson just a few days before he was fired, saying he preferred the one used by Jerry Sloan in Utah. However, King said that Williamsí comments werenít the reason Johnson lost his job. He added that the ownership simply wasnít happy with the direction the team was headed in.
Brooklyn dropped to the .500 mark after being blown out at home on Christmas Day by the Boston Celtics and by the Milwaukee Bucks a day later on the road. The Nets got off to a great start to the season at 11-4, but in December the team has gone just 3-10. They were so good early in the season that Johnson picked up the leagueís coach of the month award for October/November.
Brooklyn forward Gerald Wallace said after the loss to the Bucks that the team should have a better record than their 14-14 mark and he was getting ticked off with all of the losses, especially the way the team was losing. Brett Yormack, the clubís CEO, also agreed and after losing to Boston on Christmas Day he took to his Twitter account and apologized to the teamís fans for their performance. He added that the franchise needs to find a solution and it will soon. Yormack told the press that he wasnít taking shots at Johnson with his remarks, but was directing them at the entire franchise.
Before taking on the Bucks, Johnson said itís no secret that the team needs to improve in all areas, but it has a lot of potential and once everybody is healthy and on the same wavelength they should get better. With just 28 games gone in the season that potential still has time to be realized, but Johnson wonít be a part of it. The Nets released a statement which thanked their former coach for his effort with the team and wished him luck in the future.
The 47-year-old Johnson was on the last year of his contract and leaves the club with an overall record of 60-116. The team didnít make the playoffs under his leadership. The 16-year former player also coached the Dallas Mavericks between 2004 and 2008 and his career record is now 254-186. The 63-year-old Carlesimo has been a head coach with three teams, Portland, Golden State, and Seattle and has a 204-296 career record.
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