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Brooklyn Nets fire coach Avery Johnson

Dec 27, 2012, 1:21 PM EDT

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

This is how fast things turn in the NBA — Avery Johnson was the NBA coach of the month in October and November but now has been fired in December.

The Brooklyn Nets — who have gone 3-10 in December with one of the worst defenses in the NBA and an offensive leader in Deron Williams who is struggling — have fired Johnson as coach. The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and confirmed now by the team itself.

P.J. Carlesimo will take over as the interim head coach. They are expected to look outside the organization for his replacement (Phil Jackson’s ears are burning, but I wouldn’t expect that one).

This really shouldn’t be a shock after Nets CEO Brett Yormark tweeted an apology to fans for how the team played on Christmas Day (a blowout loss to the Celtics). When your boss apologizes to your customers for you, then you are in trouble.

Or, look at what Nets forward Gerald Wallace said Wednesday after a 15-point loss to the Bucks, via the New York Post.

“We’re a way better team than what our record is,” Gerald Wallace said. “I’m [bleeping ticked] off about us losing, and especially the way we’re losing….

“It’s mind-boggling that we’re in the situation we’re in,” Wallace said. “As good of a team as we are, as good as started off … you saw the potential we had as a team, and the talent we have as a team. And yet, still, instead of team, it’s more of ‘I.’ ”

The Nets got off to an 11-4 start this season but have fallen apart since, going 3-10. And with that has come some friction off the court. Williams has said the Utah flex offense fit him better and he has continued to shoot just less than 40 percent on the season (and he keeps launching 5.5 threes a game despite shooting 29.5 percent from there). Not shockingly, the Nets offense has started to regress the past 10 games, down 3 points per 100 possessions from their season average.

But that’s not the end of the floor that is the real problem. Brooklyn’s defense — which was always going to be their challenge with this roster — has been bottom five in the league the last 15 games. In the last five games this season they have given up 109.2 points per 100 possessions — which is worse than the Bobcats season average (and they are clear and away the worst defensive team in the league).

Just changing coaches is not going to solve the Nets issues. Brooklyn overpaid Lopez and Kris Humphries and took on maybe the worst long-term contract in the NBA in Joe Johnson. All of them are overpaid and questionable fits together. Wallace brings energy every night but is past his prime. The Nets have more than $70 million in salary commitments (putting them over the salary cap and current luxury tax line) for three more seasons AFTER this one.

GM Billy King has pretty much locked the Nets into this roster for the next few years, it’s going to be hard to make player changes (unless you think other teams want to take on Brook Lopez‘s max deal), meaning the only change you can make is the coach. So that’s what the Nets did.

  1. sailbum7 - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    When you have a bunch of prima donna players who refuse to work as a team there is little the coach can do. The coach got saddled with this mix of players by an inept GM and would up being the scapegoat. Just because someone is a good player does not mean that they will fit well with every other good player, there needs to a chemistry and a balance of skills. The Nets do not have this. They have a bunch of overpaid whiners who always want to be the one taking the shot. To win games you need to learn to pass the ball. The only possible solution to the nets current problem would be a coach like Phil Jackson who has the respect of the players and is not affraid to knock some heads to get them to play as a team. Unfortunately, I doubt he will want the gig and I do not know any other coaches out there available who can get the job done.

  2. derekjetersmansion - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Classic you-can’t-fire-the-players move.

  3. garyterp - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    You say that Avery Johnson was coach of the month in October and November. There’s no coach of the month in October, they only played one game. Come on man

  4. sffan75 - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Avery Johnson didn’t get fired because Billy King overpaid his players. Avery Johnson got fired because his team wasn’t winning. The contracts are obviously large, but that’s not the issue here. The Nets want to win now, and they felt that Johnson wasn’t the answer.

  5. rajbais - Dec 27, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    I was pleasantly surprised with what I first saw, but The fired And declining Avery Johnson Is what I first predicted.

  6. 00maltliquor - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    D Willy tha Koach Killa strikes again!!!

  7. Iraelite - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    For all of you that were posting the Nets > Knicks at the beginning of the season – Bwaah ha hah hah ho hum!!!! The GNATS are who we thought they were!!!! CrOoKlyn!!! cRoOkLyN!!! CrOoKlYn!!! Nice uni’s, nice gear, nice arena, NO HEART. Blame it on Avery. KNICKS RUN NY!!!

    • cmehustle - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      Yea I was one of those. Our roster is too talented to not be up there at the end of the season, dont worry when the bricks stop hitting all those threes and come back down to earth we’ll talk then.

    • jumpingnots - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:53 PM

      Who cares it’s just a game of overpaid players,and the people are nuts to pay that much money for their tickets to fill the owners and these overrated players pockets in any sport nowadays.
      The people that go to these games are nuts to spend their hard earned money on these games,
      set the clock back some years, you could see good games for a few bucks.Now it’s all about the money and that’s the way it is all over the world right now,but they don’t get my money I worked so hard for.

  8. jr9901 - Dec 27, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    The Nets and their billionaire owner failed to understand the true impact of the new CBA. Prokhorov — no doubt confident in his ability to pay any cost — dove wallet-first into this season, overpaying everybody, heedless of the CBA consequences. They are all finding out now that their hands will be tied, and that they can’t buy their way out of this mess.

    Success under the new CBA, from now on, will rely on teams’ ability to extract maximum talent from more-limited budgets and tighter trading rules. Those who play that game well – like OKC with the Harden trade – will thrive. Those who ignore the rules of the game – like the Nets have – will fail, in this case spectacularly.

  9. xyxyxx - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Where’s sir charles now?!? Where’s all the media types who put brooklyn above ny before the season started?!? Ny belongs to the knicks.

    • drago2012 - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:38 PM

      Actually Avery Johnson got off too easy. As far as the players are concerned the Russian owner will shake off his bad investments very quickly because the players will magically vanish without the trace buried under some scrap yard in Brooklyn. First they will warn them by breaking few ribs and non shooting fingers. The Russians just hate to have employees show up to collect a paycheck without satisfactory performance. They just don’t care about labor relations much.

    • kanemoney - Dec 28, 2012 at 4:44 AM

      I think the Knicks are a better team, but I think time could change this. JR Smith has been such a key player so far and Mello is FINALLY playing like a superstar.

      The Nets have a solid roster. Avery does seem to have lost them.

      It’s a players league.

  10. lemfax - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    It’s good Williams is not in Mavs.. Or else Carlisle out of Dallas now…

  11. bhester1906 - Dec 27, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Any team with Keith Bogans starting is doomed…And where the hell is Marshon Brooks?

    • dko83 - Dec 28, 2012 at 1:05 AM

      Guy can play D and knock down occasional 3. Doomed is a bit much. But yeah.. definitely a second unit player.

  12. ningenito78 - Dec 28, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    PJ is the exact guy to get through to DWill. Just ask his throat about Latrell Sprewell.

  13. kavika6 - Dec 28, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    Sad to see A.J. get fired but happy to see the over-rated, over-hyped Nets finally show their true colors after playing a bunch of crappy teams the first month of the season. No team could be a winner with deron williams “leading” the team.

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