The New Jersey Nets have issued a press release stating that Avery Johnson has agreed to become the new head coach of the team next season.Johnson’s only previous NBA head coaching job was with the Dallas Mavericks, who Johnson led to a 194-70 record in three-plus seasons with the team. That record gives Johnson the highest winning percentage as a head coach in NBA history, but Johnson was fired by the team after being on the wrong side of a historic playoff upset by the Golden State Warriors in 2007 and losing to the Hornets in the first round of the 2008 playoffs.
Johnson’s first year with the Mavericks was his most successful one, as he led the Mavericks to the NBA Finals and was named the Coach of the Year. However, even that season ended in disappointment after Dwyane Wade led the Heat to four straight wins in the Finals after the Mavericks took a 2-0 series lead.
After spending two years as an ESPN analyst, Johnson is the new head coach of the Nets, and the organization seems happy to have Johnson on board:
“The hiring of Avery Johnson as the Nets head coach is a wonderful first step towards building a winning team,” said Nets Principal Owner Mikhail Prokhorov. “His leadership qualities, knowledge of the game and ability to motivate are all talents we will be calling upon as we move forward. This is the beginning of what I hope will be many more exciting announcements to come before the start of the season.”
For his part, Johnson seems very happy to be coaching in the NBA again:
“I am really excited to be the head coach of the New Jersey Nets, it’s an honor,” said Johnson. “I want to thank Mikhail Prokhorov and Rod Thorn for their confidence in appointing me as head coach. The future of the team is bright and I am excited to be a part of that future. We want to play tough, hard-nosed defense and we are going to move the ball on offense. It’s all going to begin with training camp where we will start building a foundation for the future.”
When the Mavericks hired Johnson, they wanted him to instill a defensive mentality in a team of talented veterans they felt had gone soft. For the Nets, who lost 70 games last season, Johnson will be asked to take a young team and mold it from the ground up. The Nets do have cap space and the #3 overall pick, but they are still a long-term reclamation project for Johnson; more than anything, I’d wager that the main goal of the Nets ownership right now is to have a presentable team when the Nets move to Brooklyn after two more years in New Jersey.
Even though Johnson isn’t expected to turn the Nets around overnight, he has his work cut out for him if he wants to turn the Nets back into contenders any time in the foreseeable future. Over the next couple of seasons, we’ll find out if the “Little General” is up to the task.
Tony Parker tells French publication he plans to return in January
Back on May 5, Tony Parker has surgery to repair a ruptured left quadriceps tendon, an injury some thought could be career ending for the 35-year-old point guard.
He plans to be back and is aiming for January, he told the French publication L’Equipe, as transcribed by EuroHoops.net.
“I will play my best basketball when I return in January”, Parker told L’Equipe….
“The first thing that came in when I got injured, was frustration. I was super good and we had the chance to go until the end and get the title,” Parker said.
“The coach’s plan worked like a clock. I was consistent, playing for twenty to twenty-five minutes per game. My series against Memphis was good and I had a good start in the season,” he added.
Paker’s return in January (if he can meet that timeline) will have him coming off the bench, meaning the Spurs will still need a starting point guard and some depth at the position.
No, that doesn’t mean Chris Paul is coming to San Antonio, that was always a long shot as Adrian Wojnarowski noted. It’s not like the Spurs to kick guys like Parker to the curb (Bill Belichick does not run the franchise) nor do the Spurs gut their roster, and that’s what they’d have to do. Beyond that, Paul is president of the players’ union and one of the things he/the union got in the new CBA was to turn the over-36 rule (which restricted how much LeBron could get on his last deal) to the over-38 rule — meaning the Clippers can give 32-year-old Paul one more five-year max deal. You really think he’s walking away from that?
Hopefully, when Parker returns he can give us all glimpses of his old self.
Steve Kerr says he’s not ready to coach in NBA Finals, at least not yet
Steve Kerr has been a regular presence at Warriors practices, he’s traveled with the team to playoff games, he’s been part of the planning/strategizing sessions for the team — basically, he’s been everywhere but the sidelines.
He’s not ready to return there. Yet.
Interim Warriors’ coach Mike Brown was knocked down by the flu on Monday, so Kerr ran the Warriors practice then spoke to the media, but said he still is battling issues from his back surgery and is not ready yet to return to the sidelines. Via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.
Kerr says he has made no final decision about coaching #Warriors in Finals 'but as of right now I will not.'
The Warriors brought in Mike Brown last summer just for this type of situation — he’s a veteran NBA coach who has led a team to the Finals (the Cavaliers, with LeBron James), and the Warriors thought it possible Kerr could miss time. With Luke Walton in Los Angeles, Golden State wanted a veteran on the bench. Brown is that.
He’s not as creative as Kerr is addressing matchups and challenges, but if Kerr is in the film sessions and practices, then his influence is still there. That may be enough for a more talented and more rested Warriors team (than a year ago) heading into the Finals starting Thursday night.
Stephen A. Smith, who has incorrectly predicted last six NBA Finals, picks Warriors
The Warriors cruised into the NBA Finals in historic fashion, going 12-0 in the first three rounds and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game. The Cavaliers (12-1, +13.6) weren’t too far behind.
But, at 24-1, they don’t have the best combined playoff win percentage by NBA Finalists.
In 1957, the Celtics (3-0) and St. Louis Hawks (5-0) were undefeated entering a series Boston won in seven.
The Hawks, Minneapolis Lakers and Fort Wayne Pistons all went 34-48 in the regular season to tie for the Eastern Division crown. St. Louis won a tiebreaker against each team and advanced to the Western Division finals, beating Minneapolis, 3-0.
Meanwhile, the Celtics won the Eastern Division outright and received a bye to the divisions finals. They swept the Syracuse Nationals to reach the NBA Finals.
Obviously, three rounds present a much bigger hill to climb than a single series (even with a couple tiebreaker games). Golden State and Cleveland are unmatched in modern times.
Here’s every NBA Finals sorted by combined playoff record entering Finals:
Combined point difference per playoff game really shows how much Golden State and Cleveland overwhelmed their conference foes.
The Warriors and Cavs have averaged a +15.0 point difference per game in the playoffs (averaging both teams’ point difference per game equally, so as not to weigh the lesser team more). In the next-best Finals, 1986, neither the Celtics (+12.4) nor Rockets (+8.1) hit that mark alone – let alone averaged.
Here’s every NBA Finals, sorted by the teams’ average point difference per game in previous playoff games: