Ottawa Citizen

Slump­ing Brook­lyn Nets fire coach,

‘We don’t have the same fire now,’ says GM


NEW YORK • Coach of the month in Novem­ber, out of a job by New Year’s.

The Brook­lyn Nets el­e­vated ex­pec­ta­tions this sea­son and a .500 record wasn’t good enough. Coach Avery John­son was fired Thurs­day, his team hav­ing lost 10 of 13 games af­ter a strong start to its first sea­son in Brook­lyn.

“We don’t have the same fire now than we did when we were 11-4,” Nets gen­eral man­ager Billy King said at a news con­fer­ence in East Rutherford, N.J. “I tried to talk to Avery about it and we just can’t fig­ure it out. The same pat­tern kept on hap­pen­ing.”

As­sis­tant P. J. Car­les­imo will coach the Nets on an in­terim ba­sis, start­ing with Fri­day’s home game against Char­lotte. King said the Nets may reach out to other can­di­dates, but for now the job was Car­les­imo’s. The GM wouldn’t com­ment on a report that the team planned to get in touch with former Lak­ers coach Phil Jack­son.

King said the de­ci­sion to dis­miss John­son was made by own­er­ship af­ter a phone dis­cus­sion Thurs­day morn­ing. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov had ex­pressed faith in John­son be­fore the sea­son.

“With the di­rec­tion we were go­ing, we felt we had to make a change,” said King.

The Nets have fallen well be­hind the first-place New York Knicks, the team they so badly want to com­pete with in their new home. But af­ter beat­ing the Knicks in their first meet­ing Nov. 26, prob­a­bly the high point of John­son’s ten­ure, the Nets went 5-10 and frus­tra­tions have been mount­ing.

The Nets were em­bar­rassed by Bos­ton on na­tional TV on Christ­mas, then were routed by Mil­wau­kee 108-93 Wed­nes­day night for their fifth loss in six games.

“For what­ever rea­son we’re just not click­ing,” said King.

Star guard Deron Wil­liams re­cently com­plained about John­son’s of­fence and Nets CEO Brett Yor­mark took to Twit­ter af­ter the loss to Celtics to voice his dis­plea­sure with the per­for­mance.

Brook­lyn started the sea­son 11-4, win­ning five in a row to end Novem­ber, when John­son was East­ern Con­fer­ence coach of the month. But he couldn’t do any­thing to stop this slump, one the Nets never an­tic­i­pated af­ter a $350 mil­lion sum­mer spend­ing spree they be­lieved would take them to­ward the top of their con­fer­ence.

John­son has been the Nets’ coach for a lit­tle more than two sea­sons. He went 60-116 with the Nets, who moved from New Jersey to Brook­lyn to start the 2012-13 sea­son. John­son coached the Dal­las Mav­er­icks to a spot in the NBA Fi­nals in 2006.

John­son didn’t have a con­tract be­yond this sea­son but seemed to have the con­fi­dence of Prokhorov, the Rus­sian bil­lion­aire who be­fore the sea­son said he had faith in “the Avery de­fence sys­tem.”

 ?? ELSA/GETTY IM­AGES ?? Af­ter losses in 10 of their last 13 games, the Brook­lyn Nets fired head coach Avery John­son on Thurs­day.
ELSA/GETTY IM­AGES Af­ter losses in 10 of their last 13 games, the Brook­lyn Nets fired head coach Avery John­son on Thurs­day.

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