Who is the best coach available to take over coaching duties for the Brooklyn Nets? The Nets fired their head coach Avery Johnson in a move that should wake the slumping team up and out of their malaise.
Before the firing, the Nets had a record of 14-14 and were losers of five out of six games. The Nets seemed to be on a downward spiral. Their record slid fast and there were questions about Johnson’s status during the losing streak.
Johnson was still miffed after learning of his ouster. He spoke to reporters in a press conference about his unexpected firing (as reported on ESPN.com/new-york).
You never think when you're a .500 team and then you're going into two more home games at home that something like this would happen. But this is ownership's decision, and this is what we sign up for. This is part of our business. Fair or unfair, it doesn't matter. But again, it's time for a new voice, and hopefully they'll get back on track.
One factor working against Johnson, he was coaching in the final year of his contract. He signed a three-year, $12 million deal to coach the Nets in the 2010 NBA offseason.
His lame-duck status and coaching a team struggling to win games eventually doomed Johnson. He was been dismissed from the team after guiding them to a 60-116 record.
Johnson's son, Avery Johnson Jr. took his frustrations to Twitter, here is his rant...
The expectations were way to high for this team. We didn't even have a losing record.... Didn't even give my dad a full season. #OUTRAGE
— Avery Johnson Jr. (@itsaveryjohnson) December 27, 2012
Now the question becomes; who is the best fit to coach this talented team?
For now, assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo will be the Nets interim coach until a permanent replacement is hired.
Jerry Sloan knows Nets point guard Deron Williams’ game from his days of coaching the Utah Jazz. There was a rift between him and Williams in Utah. It led to Sloan resigning from his coaching position with the Jazz. Sloan is a great fit for the Nets. Would he be interested in coaching the team?
The Nets could use a taskmaster, but isn’t that the same type of coach Johnson was?
Sloan would help in terms of the X’s and O’s, as well as the attention to detail. It is something that the team has lacked during their recent trouble.
If you take away the Williams’ dynamic, Sloan is a perfect fit. The two have history, maybe too much history between them to make it work.
Jeff Van Gundy is another coach that fits the taskmaster persona. His defensive philosophies would help the Nets. The question remains if he is too much like the departed Johnson.
For the Nets to select the right coach, they must stay clear from a coach who has similar traits to Johnson. As you recall, Johnson was a defensive-minded coach. The Nets are not a great defensive team.
Their strengths are running the floor and crisp ball-movement. Any coach that is interested in the position must specialize in those areas.
Van Gundy has been out of coaching for a while, last coaching the Houston Rockets in 2007. Does he still have a pulse on today’s NBA players?
Another question is whether Van Gundy, who is used to coaching high-profile players would be willing to coach Williams.
There have been rumblings about Williams being difficult to coach. Is Van Gundy willing to become another sacrificial lamb if things do not go well in Brooklyn?
Carlesimo was known as a screamer, but if we fast-forward 15 years later, it is easy to assume that he has changed.
Before the choking incident, Carlesimo had a good record as an NBA head coach. He had guided his Portland Trail Blazers teams to three consecutive playoff berths before taking over as the coach of the Warriors.
There is little doubt that Carlesimo can coach. The problem he faces is that he is not known for his coaching ability. He is primarily known for the incident with Sprewell.
That said, he would be a good coach for the Nets.
Patrick Ewing has been champing at the bit to coach an NBA team. The Nets are a perfect fit for him.
Ewing has been credited for helping Yao Ming and Dwight Howard with their interior games. The New York Knicks all-time leader in scoring, blocked shots, rebounds and steals would bring instant credibility to the Nets locker room.
Ewing also would help the Nets win the war of the back pages. I can see it now: Former Knicks’ All-Time Great is Bound for Brooklyn. It would take over the news headlines.
From a coaching standpoint, Ewing would help Brook Lopez, the Nets starting center.
He can also become a mentor to Andray Blatche, offering him tips on how to gain better use of his size and abilities.
Isiah Thomas has coached the Indiana Pacers and led them to the playoffs three times. He was also the coach of the Knicks.
What makes Thomas an intriguing hire for the Nets is how he can relate to Williams.
As one of the few point guards in NBA history to lead his team to an NBA Championship, Thomas possesses the knowledge that would help Williams flourish. He also coaches with a laid-back style that would be better suited for Williams and the rest of the Nets.
With Johnson at the helm, the Nets ran isolation plays. With Thomas, they could maximize their potential as an isolation team, while incorporating a pick-and-roll style, similar to what the Pacers ran when Thomas was coaching there.
Thomas is also a box-office draw that would place the spotlight on the Nets as they attempt to take attention away from the Knicks. He would be a great hire for the Nets.
Isiah Thomas is the last of five coaches whom the Nets should consider for their coaching position.