Johnson has been the Nets’ coach for a little more than two seasons. He went 60-116 with the Nets, who moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn to start the season. Johnson coached the Dallas Mavericks to a spot in the NBA Finals in 2006.
“You don’t always get a fair shake as a coach,” Johnson said. “I’m not the owner. If I were the owner, I wouldn’t have fired myself today. But life is not always necessary fair. It’s a business and in this business, the coach always gets blamed.”
This is the NBA’s second coaching change this season following the dismissal of Mike Brown by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson arrived in New Jersey with a 194-70 record, a .735 winning percentage that was the highest in NBA history. But, he had little chance of success in his first two seasons while the Nets focused all their planning on the move to Brooklyn.
They looked to make a splash this summer when they re-signed Williams and fellow starters Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, traded for Atlanta All-Star Joe Johnson, and added veteran depth with players such as Reggie Evans, C.J. Watson and Andray Blatche.
Johnson didn’t have a contract beyond this season but seemed to have the confidence of Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who before the season said he had faith in “the Avery defense system.”
Some thought the Nets would finish as high as second in the East behind defending champion Miami, and the predictions seemed warranted when the Nets started quickly amid much fanfare. But all the good publicity faded in recent weeks once the losing started.
Williams, who has struggled this season, stirred the waters when he expressed his preference for the offense he ran under Jerry Sloan in Utah before a loss to the Jazz. Williams and Johnson, nicknamed “Brooklyn’s Backcourt” and expected to be one of the best in the NBA, have shot poorly and rarely meshed.
The Nets were embarrassed near the end of their 93-76 loss to Boston, when fans exited early amid a chant of “Let’s go Celtics!”
“Nets fans deserved better,” Yormark tweeted after the game. “The entire organization needs to work harder to find a solution. We will get there.”
Not under Johnson, though.
The Nets should be able to entice a big-name coach with Prokhorov’s billions and the chance to play in a major market at Barclays Center, the $1 billion arena that has drawn praise in the city and from visiting teams.
Carlesimo has previous NBA head coaching experience in Portland, Golden State and Seattle/Oklahoma City. He has a career coaching record of 204-296 in the regular season and 3-9 in the playoffs.
“Right now, P.J. is our coach and I told him to coach the team like he’ll be here for the next 10 years,” King said.