Brooklyn Nets: 3 Reasons Why Avery Johnson Needs to Be Fired
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Avery Johnson has had a rather inconsistent coaching career with, over a relatively brief period of time, the full spectrum of support. He was named the 2006 Coach of the Year with the Dallas Mavericks in his first season of award eligibility, but was dismissed by the team two years later.
Like many unwanted coaches, Johnson took his talents to ESPN for two years. Also like many unwanted play callers, his return to the sidelines has been anything but natural.
New Jersey finished the 2011-12 season 22 games under .500. They also ranked near the bottom in many Hollinger Team Statistics, such as defensive efficiency (29th), offensive efficiency (23rd) and true shooting percentage (23rd), which takes into account free throws and three-point shots.
Any head coach behind those numbers is going to have his employment questioned, and with the move to Brooklyn and expectations at an all-time high for the Nets, outcry for Johnson’s removal will only continue to increase in the event of any perceived failure by his team.
Let’s take a look at three reasons Avery Johnson should go.
1. Inability to “Stop the Bleeding”
Deron Williams must maximize his talent this year...
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Any team that goes 46-102 over the course of two seasons is going to have its share of losing streaks.
Still, Avery Johnson appears particularly unable to reverse the Nets’ misfortune.
When I form a list of the worst sports clichés (which, by the way, I do), the phrase, “establish a winning culture” is at the top.
What does that even mean? Is there a suggestion that ghosts of defeat float around the locker room, cursing the players and ensuring that they repeat the failures of their predecessors? I find that hard to believe. If the idea is that the team was previously unprepared to win, shouldn’t the phrase be amended to, “establish good coaching?”
“Culture” has nothing to do with it.
Call it whatever you like, but the Nets, under Johnson, have had 11 losing streaks of five or more games. (They have just two winning streaks of more than two games, but that’s besides the point).
Some of these were the result of difficult stretches of opponents, but in last season alone, the chunks contained teams like Cleveland (x2), Minnesota, New York, Detroit (x2), New Orleans, Washington, Milwaukee and Toronto.
This falls on Johnson.
Avery Johnson has be unable to prevent streaky collapses, and, as far as last year goes, the lockout had nothing to do with it. Everyone was under the same conditions. If anything, last year was an opportunity for the strong coaches to reveal themselves and the weak ones to fall to the bottom of the standings.
2. Too Casual
And Joe Johnson should help.
I’m not going to pretend that New Jersey was a team ready to make an extended playoff run either of the last two season, but that does not justify a cavalier attitude from anyone within the organization, especially the head coach.
Take a look at some statements made by Avery Johnson to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, and ask yourself if they sound like the words of someone who holds serious expectations for the upcoming season:
You can run the cutest plays and have the best defensive schemes, but if you don’t have size and athleticism and guys who can put the ball in the basket, guys who know how to get their own shot, have high basketball IQ, mentally tough, you’re not going to win.
At least the players shouldn’t feel too offended by this—he’s only asking for superstars and you know if you’re one of those...
Even more unsettling:
It’s kind of like when I told you guys early on—I thought it was going to take us about two years just to become relevant, and that’s where we are.
I guess teams nowadays cannot really demand much more than “relevance.”
Nobody is asking Avery Johnson to make the often outrageous remarks of fellow New York coach, Rex Ryan, but there needs to be something between overstatement and indifference.
What does is say about somebody’s coaching abilities if they view “cute” plays to be insufficient unless there is All-Star talent?
Much of this attitude stems from what, at times, appears to be unwavering support from the ownership. With the job security of a Supreme Court justice, Johnson suffers no repercussions if his team underperforms.
Of course, this probably means Johnson will not be fired anytime soon.
3. End-of-Season/Playoff Issues
Avery Johnson has led some very uninspired play at season's end
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images
No team, regardless of its record, wants to end a season with a losing streak.
Of the 11 significant winless stretches mentioned earlier, one of them rounded out the 2010-11 season. Another such streak wrapped up the 2011-12 “effort.”
This ties back in with the theme of the previous slide—a lack of focus and concern from the head coach.
If we are to take Johnson’s prophecy to heart and believe that the upcoming season will see a return to relevance, these end-of-season stumbles, which took place with a pressure-free backdrop, are a bad sign for what lays ahead in meaningful concluding games.
Johnson’s playoff history, which led to his Dallas discharge, is also disheartening. He blew a 2-0 lead in the 2006 NBA Finals and followed it up with consecutive first-round exits. His overall playoff record is 23-24.
Joe Johnson and Deron Williams bring valuable playoff experience, but if Brooklyn cannot depend on Avery Johnson to put them in a position to exhibit that experience, many Brooklyn fans and media will be forced to utter a collective “Told ya’ so.”