The Brooklyn Nets fired Avery Johnson as their head coach Thursday and have begun a search for his replacement, according to multiple reports.
As of now, assistant P.J. Carlesimo will fill in on an interim basis until the Nets have found a permanent replacement. Still the Nets could wait and see how Carlesimo responds to his new role.
"The Nets ownership would like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future," principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov said according to a statement.
Johnson had a record of 60-116 since he was hired in June of 2010. Brooklyn is currently 14-14 and clinging to the East's final playoff spot. There were high expectations entering the season as the Nets have rebuilt their roster with notable names like Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, and the return of Brook Lopez from injury.
Johnson’s firing follows point guard Deron Williams comments that he is struggling due to the offense’s design. That could have been enough to give Johnson his walking papers. Williams has shot at or below 40 percent from the field since he joined the Nets.
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Below are five candidates Brooklyn may consider in their search.
He finally settled his feud with the Clippers, and has taken over teams in the middle of the season before, nearly guiding the Trail Blazers to the Finals. Dunleavy is a Brooklyn native and has been inactive from coaching since 2010.
He failed to get the Wizards back in motion, but right now it appears that club was beyond reproach. Saunders best years were with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he was revered by superstar Kevin Garnett. Currently an analyst with ESPN, he guided Minnesota to the Western Conference Finals, and has a good history with veteran point guards.
Stan Van Gundy
Despite his issues with Dwight Howard, Van Gundy was, and still is, considered one of the best coaches in the game. In the Nets, he’ll have the point guard he always needed in Orlando, but won’t have as athletic and dominant a big man. He has a career 579-371 record, and with Howard no longer part of the Nets' plans, Van Gundy might be a strong choice.
Brown could still be licking his wounds since the Lakers let him go, but most coaches want to get back to work immediately. He’s a defensive minded coach, with a strong resume in the playoffs, but the Nets need help on the offensive end. Brooklyn is 22nd in points per game.
The biggest long shot of them all. Jackson would require a huge pay day, but Prokorhov is not shy about shelling out cash. The big question is whether Jackson would be willing to return to the NBA. He had interest in returning to the Lakers, and was shocked when he didn't receive the job. Jackson is also a winner, and may like the idea of returning to New York, where he played with the Knicks during their glory years. However, the Nets may not have the best talent to run the triangle offense, and Jackson may not want to use personnel he is unfamiliar with.