Avery Johnson was fired by the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday just 28 games into the season. The team was 14-14 and had gone 3-10 in its last 13 games. Blowout losses in recent games appeared to play a role in the firing, and so did Johnson’s perceived inability to reach his players.
GM Billy King said at his press conference announcing the firing that Johnson wasn’t reaching the team’s players.
“I have a pretty good pulse of players,” King said. “Not just Deron, but all our guys. I just got a sense that, as I told Avery this morning, that for some reason, he just wasn’t reaching them anymore.”
Howard Beck of The New York Times adds more context to King’s comments.
According to Beck, Johnson had “lost several members of the locker room” by the time he was fired. Beck says there was some suspicion about why Deron Williams missed Wednesday’s game with a wrist injury he had managed to play through the entire season. There was additional suspicion about Kris Humphries going on the inactive list with a previously undisclosed abdominal injury. Both players are said to be available for Friday’s game.
Plus, there’s this from Beck:
Although there were no other overt actions, the locker-room discontent was fairly widespread. Several players were unhappy with their playing time, the offense or both.
That could probably be said of the locker room of any team that has gone 3-10, but it’s still noteworthy. Williams was the only one who really complained about Johnson publicly, though it’s quite possible many others felt similarly.
For what it’s worth, a friend of Johnson told Beck that Williams “totally quit on Avery.”
Was Avery Johnson the problem with the Nets, or are they just not very good? I think they’re better than what they’ve shown lately, but I don’t think they’re as good as ownership thinks they are.