Many names were thrown out as soon as word spread of Johnson’s dismissal, and according to Yahoo! Sports, former Knicks and Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy may be interested in the job.
The report said Van Gundy would not enter into discussions with Brooklyn while an interim coach is in place. The Nets named P.J. Carlesimo has interim head coach until they find a permanent replacement for Johnson.
In his first game at the helm, Carlesimo led Brooklyn to a 97-81 victory over the lowly Charlotte Bobcats. Brooklyn star point guard Deron Williams went 7-for-14 for 19 points, improving on his 40 percent shooting for the season.
In the fast few days, Williams and his relationship with Johnson has been rumored as the main reason for Johnson’s firing.
Brooklyn let Johnson go after a difficult December dropped the team to 14-14 and the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets began the season with a franchise-best 11-4 start, but team officials reportedly felt players were no longer responding to Johnson. However, it's been suggested center Brook Lopez's injury had more to do with Brooklyn's slide than Johnson's coaching style.
Now a color commentator and NBA analyst for ESPN, Van Gundy has a career 430-318 record, and last coached Houston in 2007. The Rockets made the playoffs in three out of Van Gundy’s four seasons, but lost in the first round each time.
His best results came with New York, who he led to the 1999 NBA Finals in a lockout shortened season. Van Gundy also brought the Knicks to the Conference Finals twice, and the Conference Semifinals in his first three seasons. He resigned from the Knicks in 2001.
The Nets reportedly are also interested in 10-time champion Phil Jackson, but he apparently does not share their admiration. Though it appeared Jackson was ready to coach again with the Los Angeles Lakers after they fired Mike Brown earlier this season.
The Lakers then rebuffed Jackson while he was contemplating a return, and hired Mike D’Antoni.
Carlisemo is still under consideration, and reportedly the Nets want him to prepare each game as if he's going to be the permanent coach. The 63-year-old was last a head coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He helped the team transition from Seattle to Oklahoma City, and was superstar Kevin Durant's first NBA coach. Carlisemo was ultimately fired in 2008 after going 1-12 to start the season.