The question whether Deron Williams with his disappointing play or with his venomous interviews is responsible for Avery Johnson getting fired before the end of December isn’t relevant. The man who comes to replace Johnson as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets is the important thing in this whole drama.
Did Johnson see it coming? Probably not. After an 11-4 start, came a 3-10 slide that was too much to ignore for both Mikhail Prokhorov the owner, and mostly for GM Billy King, who according to sources around the team, is the man who drove to fire Johnson, the NBA’s coach of the month in November.
P.J. Carlesimo, who hasn’t coached a team to a winning season since the 1996-1997 season, will be the caretaker for now, but it’s highly unlikely that he remains in the position much longer. The long list of names ready to take up the mantle of what now is a much more attractive Nets franchise, due to the location and the money surely won’t wait much longer to see someone picked.
John Calipari coached the Nets in the late 1990’s for two and a half seasons. The current Kentucky demigod is a favorite among certain board members within the Nets franchise, but it’s going to be very hard, and expensive, to pry him away from Lexington. Calipari makes $5.2 million a season, not to mention how much it’ll cost to buy him out. Returning to the NBA must be in his bones somewhere, but sometimes it’s hard to give up on the kind of power you have as a major program’s head coach. Calipari will probably want more than just head coach responsibilities, and the Nets aren’t looking for some power play behind the scenes.
This is the same reason Phil Jackson isn’t going to be the new head coach as well. Always lined up, at least through the media, as a prime candidate, it seems that the Nets don’t believe the triangle offense will work well with their current crop of players (although it’s unclear what offense actually does), plus the fact that Jackson, like Calipari, will probably be looking for a whole lot of power beyond the head coaching position.
Then there’s the interesting case of Jeff Van Gundy, who hasn’t been on the sidelines as a head coach since 2007 with the Houston Rockets. He’s been enjoying a highly successful analyst career since then, but maybe the departure of his partner Mark Jackson to the Golden State Warriors woke something in him. Some say that the New York connection might be something that can persuade Van Gundy to leave the broadcast table.
David Blatt, the former head coach of the Russian national team and currently working for Maccabi Tel-Aviv is also considered as some sort of long-shot The Israel-American did win the European championship with an inferior Russian team and has always taken them a step further then where they’re supposed to finish, including a Bronze medal at the London Olympics.
Two more interesting names that have come up are Nate McMillan, who did a decent job with the Portland Trail Blazers for a few years but couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs and some like his offensive schemes, and Jerry Sloan. Sloan was fired from the Utah Jazz because of Deron Williams, or so they say. However, Williams’ involvement in Avery Johnson getting the axe had to do with him speaking and mentioning missing the flex-offense he used to run under Sloan in Salt Lake City. Time for reconciliation?