After the failed attempt to land Dwight Howard at the 2012 NBA trade deadline, the New Jersey Nets look set to miss the playoffs once again. So does that mean that Avery Johnson could be on the hot seat going into his third season?
Unfortunately for Johnson, he came to New Jersey at a time when the team was about to begin rebuilding for the future. That fact was no secret when he took the job, and with the team's ownership changing hands, the team's aspirations were set squarely on D12.
In the process, the Nets haven't done much for the long term and instead have tried to sign players and make moves based on their goal of having enough cap space to make such a signing. Because of this, the Nets haven't had the pieces necessary to put a winning squad on the floor.
That type of situation can never be blamed on the coach, and Johnson's case should be no different.
Until the Nets begin striving for NBA greatness instead of waiting, ownership cannot properly evaluate the job Johnson has done. Sure, they can look at how young players are developing and combine that with where the team is based on initial expectations.
In that aspect, Johnson has passed with flying colors.
Several injuries and a lack of depth could have doomed New Jersey's season to the Eastern Conference cellar. However, the Nets were as little as four games out of a playoff spot during the current eighth seed's (the New York Knicks) most recent slide.
Rookie MarShon Brooks is progressing nicely and power forward Kris Humphries has grown into a double-double machine in his time under Johnson.
If New Jersey can keep Brook Lopez healthy, the new addition of Gerald Wallace will give the Nets a very formidable starting five, and that's without D12.
So what, if anything, can get Johnson on the hot seat or fired?
Well, starting next season there will be an undoubted emphasis in results now that the Nets are no longer waiting around. They will look to build a winner, and when teams are looking to win and are no longer rebuilding, that's when a coach is evaluated.
The bigger stretch in regards to a possible exit for Johnson would be the desires of Deron Williams. I think it's safe to say New Jersey would do whatever it takes to keep D-Will in a Nets uniform and that Johnson would be expendable if Williams so chooses.
This is D-Will's team for the time being and it will stay like that as long as he's here. If he wants a new coach for any reason, the Nets will be more than happy to oblige to keep the all-world point guard on their team.
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