Struggling Brooklyn Nets fire coach Avery Johnson

Struggling Brooklyn Nets fire coach Avery Johnson

NEW YORK - The Associated Press
Struggling Brooklyn Nets fire coach Avery Johnson

Johnson was fired as the Brooklyn Nets coach after the team has lost 10 of its last 13 games in the NBA. AP photo

Avery Johnson was fired as coach of the Brooklyn Nets, who have struggled recently in their season of new surroundings and elevated expectations.

After a strong start to their first season in Brooklyn, the Nets have lost 10 of 13 games to fall well behind the first-place New York Knicks, the team they so badly want to compete with in their new home.

“We don’t have the same fire now than we did when we were 11-4,” general manager Billy King said at a news conference in East Rutherford, New Jersey. “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 started to coach the Nets on an interim basis. King said the Nets might 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 contact Phil Jackson.

King said the decision to dismiss Johnson was made by ownership after a phone discussion on the morning of Dec. 27.

Disappointing day

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

He was in the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract.

“It’s a really disappointing day for me and my family. It’s my wife’s birthday. It’s not a great birthday gift,” Johnson said. “I didn’t see this coming. But this is ownership’s decision. Fair or unfair, it’s time for a new voice and hopefully they’ll get back on track.”

After beating the Knicks in their first meeting Nov. 26, probably the high point of Johnson’s tenure, the Nets went 5-10.

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 earlier this year.

Johnson coached the Dallas Mavericks to a spot in the NBA Finals in 2006.

This is the NBA’s second coaching change this season after the dismissal of Mike Brown by the Los Angeles Lakers.