Coach firings have been the talk of the NBA this season, and the Brooklyn Nets' decision to can Avery Johnson will likely reverberate throughout the Eastern Conference as much as the Mike D'Antoni hiring in Los Angeles has out West.
After the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks, the East lacks a third dominant team. If the Nets play their cards right—and put the right guy in charge—they may be able to leapfrog the Atlanta Hawks, who seem to be holding down that spot by default.
Given how poorly the Nets have played so far this season, it would likely take a Phil Jackson hiring to actually shift the power balance of the league. But at the very worst, we should soon have at least one more team worth taking seriously. No matter who Brooklyn hires once P.J. Carlesimo gets the team through a transition period, expect a short-term surge in the new year.
Stats and records current through games on Dec. 27.