Avery Johnson Fired as Alabama Basketball Head Coach After 4 Seasons with Team

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

Alabama head coach Avery Johnson watches the action in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama won 77-67. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Alabama Crimson Tide have fired Avery Johnson after a four-year run as head coach, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

This change of leadership comes after the Crimson Tide went 18-16 this past season while missing out on the NCAA tournament for the third time under Johnson. At the end of the season, the 53-year-old coach let it be known that he was hoping to return for 2019-20.

"I love being the coach here at Alabama. That's my plan," Johnson said following an upset loss to Norfolk State in the first round of the NIT on March 20. "I made that crystal clear to Greg in our meeting. And hopefully they feel the same way. But I'm committed to it. I still have time left, obviously on my contract."

However, Michael Casagrande of AL.com reported one day later that negotiations for a buyout had begun. 

Johnson was given a two-year extension that ran through 2023 back in August 2017. That contract would pay him $2.9 million annually. Casagrande noted Johnson would be owed $8 million if fired before April 15 or $6 million if the dismissal came after that date.

When Johnson's arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2015, the program was in the midst of a three-year NCAA tournament drought. The Crimson Tide hoped bringing in the former NBA coach in would make the team a perennial contender in the SEC.

Instead, it was four years of mediocrity.

Alabama went 75-62 during Johnson's tenure, winning between 18 to 20 games in each season. The team's best performance came during future NBA lottery pick Collin Sexton's lone year on campus, when it went 20-16 in 2017-18 and earned an invitation to the Big Dance. The ninth-seeded Crimson Tide squeaked past Virginia Tech in the opening round before bowing out to top-seeded Villanova, the eventual champs, in the second round.

After Sexton left for the NBA, Alabama was unable to build on its success. And ultimately, that would lead to the end of Johnson's time with the university.

Johnson previously spent approximately seven years on the sidelines in the NBA, parts of four with the Dallas Mavericks and two-plus with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. He helped guide the Mavericks to four playoff appearances and coached the team to the NBA Finals in 2006.

He went 254-186 during his NBA coaching career.