Nets GM Billy King spoke with the media about the firing of coach Avery Johnson and this was my takeaway from it:
He doesn’t know what’s wrong but he knows Johnson wasn’t the answer.
“Watching us, we just didn’t have the same fire we had when we were 11-4,” King said. “Been talking with Avery, just wasn’t able to pinpoint what was missing. You lose by 17 to the Celtics, you lose to the Knicks like we did, you lose to Milwaukee, these are teams that you’re talking about competing with. It was a pattern….
“I just got a sense, like I told Avery this morning, for some reason he just wasn’t reaching them anymore. It happens in sports, especially at the professional level. “
King was insistent that it was he along with ownership — Mikhail Prokhorov on the phone in Moscow — that made the decision about firing Johnson. He said multiple times that Deron Williams was not involved.
King also said that after missing one game due to a wrist injury he had played through all season, Williams was expected to be back in the lineup on Friday. Same with Kris Humphries, who suddenly missed two games with an abdomen injury after he was demoted from the starting lineup.
Draw your own conclusions, but it was pretty clear Johnson was losing the locker room’
King said that P.J. Carlisimo was the coach and put off the idea he would be calling around to seek a replacement. That said, it’s widely considered around the league that he will call around to seek a replacement. Just not immediately.
In a short meeting with the media (as tweeted about by Howard Beck of the New York Times), Avery Johnson said that this sucks because it’s his wife’s birthday and this is not a good present. No kidding.
Aside that, he sounds like a lot of coaches who have been fired and realize that they are the scapegoat for a host of issues. It’s not that Avery Johnson and his isolation-heavy offense was good, or that players loved him, but that there is a lot of blame to go around, he’s just the piece that got changed.