NEW YORK — Coach of the month in November, out of a job by New Year's.
The Brooklyn Nets have elevated expectations this season, and a .500 record wasn't good enough. Coach Avery Johnson was fired Thursday, his team having lost 10 of 13 games after a strong start to its first season in Brooklyn.
“We don't have the same fire now than we did when we were 11-4,” general manager Billy King said at a news conference in East Rutherford, N.J. “I tried to talk to Avery about it and we just can't figure it out. The same pattern kept on happening.”
Assistant P.J. Carlesimo will coach the Nets on an interim basis, starting with Friday's home game against Charlotte. King said the Nets may reach out to other candidates, but for now the job was Carlesimo's. The GM wouldn't comment on a report that the team planned to get in touch with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
King said the decision to dismiss Johnson was made by ownership after a phone discussion Thursday morning. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov had expressed faith in Johnson before the season.
“With the direction we were going we felt we had to make a change,” King said.
The Nets have fallen well behind the first-place New York Knicks, the team they so badly want to compete with in their new home. But after beating the Knicks in their first meeting Nov. 26, probably the high point of Johnson's tenure, the Nets went 5-10 and frustrations have been mounting.
The Nets were embarrassed by Boston on national TV on Christmas, then were routed by Milwaukee 108-93 on Wednesday night for their fifth loss in six games.
“For whatever reason we're just not clicking,” King said.
Star guard Deron Williams recently complained about Johnson's offense, and Nets CEO Brett Yormark took to Twitter after the loss to Celtics to voice his displeasure with the performance.
Brooklyn started the season 11-4, winning five in a row to end November, when Johnson was Eastern Conference coach of the month. But he couldn't do anything to stop this slump, one the Nets never anticipated after a $350 million summer spending spree they believed would take them toward the top of their conference.
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 2012-13 season. Johnson coached the Dallas Mavericks to a spot in the NBA Finals in 2006.
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 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.
NEW YORK — Coach of the month in November, out of a job by New Year's.
Playing both sides of the line
Recently, Keys High School football standout Dakota Matlock was nearly severely injured in a terrifying car wreck.
Matlock is coming off a stellar gridiron season for Keys High School. On offense, Matlock ran for over 1,000 yards for the Cougars. In his sophomore season, Matlock led Keys in tackles from the safety position.
Crossing, and fishing, the Delaware
Bassmaster Elite Series anglers to compete Aug. 7
BASS has fished out of some legendary venues over the years (including Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans), but never Philadelphia, which is host of the Bassmaster Elite at Delaware River, Aug. 7-10, 2014.
Mixon’s attorney says incident with woman self-defense
The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.
Sparking the flame
Sequoyah High School’s Justin Hooper looking to lead this year
Last season was Justin’s last chance to play alongside Cody at Sequoyah High School.
Justin had to battle to win the Indians starting tailback. The coaching staff did not know who was going to be the Indians starting running back coming into fall practice.
NSU teams compete in fishing tournament
Three teams from Northeastern State University’s Bass Fishing Team competed in the Fishing League Worldwide College Fishing Tournament on Grand Lake in Grove on Saturday, June 21.
Johnson, East win easily at All-State
Jake Johnson was able to hold off Lawton MacArthur’s Trent Meisel at the Class 5A state tournament in May. On Monday at the All-State tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Club, Johnson had it much easier against Meisel.
Hometown brothers team up for RiverHawks football
Northeastern State’s football program will include a pair of hometown brothers for the 2014 season.
Mason McMillan returns for his sophomore season, and this year he will be reunited with his younger brother, Kourtland. The brothers graduated from Tahlequah High School – Mason in 2013, followed by Kourtland in 2014. At Tahlequah, Mason and Kourtland shared the gridiron for one season.
Yurcich ready for second season
With the 2014 season on the brink, Mike Yurcich, Oklahoma State University football offensive coordinator, is ready for his second year at the helm after coaching a powerful offensive squad a year ago.
Back on the line
RiverHawks’ Ethan James returns to the line healthy and ready for 2014
RiverHawks offensive lineman Ethan James will enter the 2014 season healthy – something the team, and James, were not in 2013.
Sooners shifting several positions
Experience comes from encountering the same things in the same ways over and over again. Oklahoma’s Geneo Grissom and Julian Wilson have that at defensive end and nickleback in bunches.
However, both will be seeing new things when practice begins. Grissom is moving to outside linebacker. Wilson will be getting a look at cornerback as his senior season begins
- More Sports Headlines
- Playing both sides of the line