It may be a while before we know who will be the next coach for the Brooklyn Nets in the wake of Avery Johnson’s sudden firing on Thursday. As in 2013. Sam Amick of USA Today reports the Nets don’t plan to really jump start the coaching search until after the first of the year.
Whichever coach takes over the Brooklyn Nets next had better like the roster as it is now because they are pretty much locked into it for a few years. Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and even the hustling Gerald Wallace would be hard to trade with their deals. And nobody wants to trade Deron Williams, they just need a coach who can get through to him (and shake him out of his shooting slump.
And he better like pressure, because Johnson’s firing shows this is not a patient ownership — Mikhail Prokhorov wants to win now. They want the expectations high.
So, who is it going to be?
You can bet on an experienced coach and ideally a big name to fit in with the Brooklyn market. Someone who can get this roster to play better defense (good luck) and find an offensive identity.
Here are the big names that are out there:
• Phil Jackson. You can bet they will make the call and Prokhorov can write a large check to entice him, but his agent told David Aldridge of TNT he is not interested in the job at this time. Jackson seemed serious about the Lakers job less than two months ago, but that was a franchise he was comfortable with and players like Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol who already knew his triangle offensive system. The Nets roster isn’t nearly as talented as the Lakers and as a former Knick the Nets don’t hold the same allure. Jackson isn’t itching to come back to coach, it has to be a perfect situation for him to walk into a contender, and this isn’t it. This team isn’t that good.
• Stan Van Gundy. This should be their first call and the guy on top of the list. But it may not matter, Van Gundy has no interest reports the Orlando Sentinel. Brooklyn should call anyway. Why? Because his system in Orlando can fit in Brooklyn even if the Nets lost out in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes — a good offensive center in the middle (Lopez), a point guard who can penetrate and run the pick-and-roll (Williams) and guys who can knock down threes and just generally make shots (Johnson, to start with). More importantly, Van Gundy gets his players to defend. Finally, and most importantly, with some locker room turmoil Brooklyn needs a coach who can stand up to a star player like Williams and tell him how it is. Van Gundy can and would do that.
• Nate McMillan. This would be another good hire, a guy players respect that deserves another chance. He would bring a slowed-down, grind-it-out style that worked with Brandon Roy and could work with Williams and the Nets. It may not be “showtime” fun, but it has worked and gotten a lot of wins. He has a relationship with Williams from Team USA where McMillan was an assistant coach the past Olympics.
• Jeff Van Gundy. They may call to see if there is interest, but do you think he’s leaving the comforts of the broadcast booth and lifestyle to coach this roster? He will just give them Stan’s number.
• Jerry Sloan. Oh, this would provide some real entertainment. Terrible idea for the Nets, but great for bloggers everywhere. Sloan and Williams had issues in Utah, but now Williams is pining for the days of the flex offense. That would come in and Sloan would not put up with the selfish attitude that seems to have come over the team. He’s not young and he might not want to deal with the New York media, but man this would be entertaining.
• Larry Brown. While it seems like a longshot, Brown would jump at it and he is an old friend of GM Billy King. Still, don’t bet on it.
• Mike Brown. No, that’s not happening. And as Mike Brown is still getting fat checks from the Lakers while watching his son play high school ball, he’s probably good with that.