Published January 16, 2013
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – The Brooklyn Nets are 9-1 under new head coach P.J. Carlesimo.
Anyone still think Avery Johnson got jobbed?
The Brooklyn Nets have won seven games in a row under Carlesimo.
Anyone still think the November Coach of the Month got a raw deal?
The Brooklyn Nets are averaging 102.9 points per game under Carlesimo.
Anyone still think this roster was poorly thought out and poorly constructed?
The Brooklyn Nets have allowed 100 points or more just four times since Carlesimo got the better parking spot.
Anyone else miss Avery?
While these sentences drastically over-simplify the issues, the overlying point is correct - the Brooklyn Nets have been a better team under the stewardship of Carlesimo.
When the Nets made the move, it seemed I was the only one who understood it. Pundits and Twitter lathered about how you could fire the Coach of the Month one month later. The NBA Coach of the Month Award is the most worthless award since the Cable ACE.
The reality was the Nets always looked they were lacking something. They were lethargic and disconnected. Both guards, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, never looked in sync.
The problems don't totally fall on Avery Johnson, but teams don't fire entire rosters. And, yes, the coach bares some responsibility in his team's problems.
That shouldn't be a revolutionary concept. When teams play poorly, it's by and large a reflection of that coach.
And what have the Nets gotten for firing Avery Johnson? How about within 1 1/2 games of the New York Knicks for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The roster didn't change. The coach did and how can you argue with the results?
General manager Billy King, who has awarded some of the most ridiculous contracts in NBA history, went all-in for Dwight Howard in the offseason. He traded for Joe Johnson and, after tiring of Howard, King re-signed his own bigs, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.
Lopez leads the team in scoring at 18.5 ppg. Humphries has essentially fallen out of the rotation in favor of Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans, but the moves have panned out to some degree of success.
King is not the world's best general manager. That's actually an understatement. But this roster was more than adequate to win with and Avery Johnson couldn't. So, you make changes.
Carlesimo seems to have King's and owner Mikhail Prokhorov's support. Carlesimo is a great basketball mind who is tough. Everyone remembers Latrell Sprewell choking incident. It was ugly and it was Spree's disgusting act that should be remembered. All Carlesimo did was challenge a player who reacted criminally.
He came within an eye-lash of winning a national championship at Seton Hall in 1989. That thought seems ludicrous in 2013.
This will be Carlesimo's fourth bite at the apple of head coaching. After unsuccessful stints in Portland, Golden State and Seattle (then Oklahoma City), this is probably P.J.'s last chance at a winner.
Oh, he has rings. Carlesimo was an assistant on three of Gregg Popovich's San Antonio Spurs title teams. But Carlesimo's career as a head coach has been generally derided due to his toughness on players.
No one on the Nets is saying that he's not the same way. Maybe this group responds better to it. Lord knows, they didn't respond to Avery Johnson.
All reports seem to indicate Carlesimo will be around for the remainder of the season. After that, all bets are off. The Nets are not a championship-caliber team at present.
Prokhorov has a lot of money. A lot, so he's going to want a star in that seat. Phil Jackson or pick a Van Gundy would be logical choices, but ride the Carlesimo wagon as far as it takes you. The team is responding and Carlesimo appears to be the biggest reason why.
Who knows, maybe he'll the NBA's Coach of the Month for January. That would be something, right?