Did Avery Johnson Deserve To Be Fired By The Brooklyn Nets?
The Brooklyn Nets gave their head coach Avery Johnson 28 games to prove that he deserved to lead their team into the future. And, after he got off to an unimpressive 14-14 start this season, they decided to fire him yesterday. But, did the Nets really give him a chance to succeed—or did they overreact too soon when the team didn’t live up to all of the hype surrounding them at the start of the 2012-13 NBA season? Well, at this point, it’s probably a little bit of both. But, either way, the Nets are in a world of trouble right now as they continue to struggle to find their identity in an Eastern Conference that is loaded with talent.
Initially, I thought that the Nets reacted impulsively when deciding to fire Johnson less than two months into the current season. While the Nets have looked pretty bad at times this year, especially in recent weeks, the truth is that they have a lot of new pieces in their lineup right now, including former Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson. The team’s main components, namely Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Johnson, have only been playing together for 28 games now, so I’m not sure why the team didn’t let Johnson continue to try and put the pieces of the puzzle together. If the Nets missed the playoffs this year or, worse, finished below .500, then Johnson would have to go. But, it’s too early to tell if he would have panned out as the Nets coach this season.
But, there’s another side to this, too. After recent games, Williams has been very vocal about his discomfort in Johnson’s isolation-heavy offense. Specifically, he’s pointed to his dwindling statistics and his inability to distribute the ball well this season as proof that Johnson’s system isn’t going to work with their current lineup. And, if that’s actually the case, then I have no problem with the Nets cutting their losses and letting go of Johnson now. But, it does seem like Johnson’s firing happened almost without warning. The team didn’t give him enough time to make the proper adjustments in order to succeed.
So, the question then for the Nets is “Now what?” Where do they turn to next? Already, names like Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Stan Van Gundy, and Mike Brown have been thrown around as possible replacements for Johnson. But, who can do the job effectively? The Nets better hire the right man. Otherwise, they’re going to get off on the wrong foot this season and waste a golden opportunity to become a real contender in the Eastern Conference. They may be in Brooklyn now. But, so far, they look like the same old Nets.