Just hours after the New Orleans Hornets eliminated the Dallas Mavericks from the playoffs, Mavs' owner Mark Cuban has fired head coach Avery Johnson, Alex Kennedy reports.
Johnson, the 2006 NBA Coach of the Year, was let go after the team struggled to compete with the younger and less experienced Hornets in the first round of the postseason. In the final game of the series, the Hornets led the entire way and at one point were ahead by as much as seventeen points before taking the series four games to one.
After Dallas struggled to secure a playoff seed in the tough Western Conference during the regular season, rumors started circulating that Johnson could be on the hot seat.
Despite taking the Mavericks to the Finals two years ago—where they would lose to the Miami Heat—Johnson has struggled in the playoffs in recent years.
Last season, the Mavericks were upset in the first round by the eighth seeded Golden State Warriors despite having the league's best regular season record and the league's Most Valuable Player in Dirk Nowitzki.
This season, Johnson couldn't find an answer for point guard Chris Paul who averaged a remarkable 24.8 points, 11.3 assists, and 2 steals throughout the series.
Even though New Orleans was the higher seed, many people thought this would be a very close series because for many of the Hornets' starters (David West, Tyson Chandler, and Paul) this would be their first time starting in a playoff series. Meanwhile, Dallas had playoff veterans Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, and Josh Howard who had a combined 224 playoff starts between them. Despite their experience, the Mavericks couldn't find a way to keep up with the Hornets and obviously, Cuban thinks it all begins with the coach.
Watching his team get knocked out of the playoffs early for two straight years must have been the last straw for Cuban, who is one of the game's most active general managers.
While other teams continue fighting for a championship, Cuban will be at home looking for potential coaching candidates. It's going to be a long off-season for the Dallas Mavericks.