NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Would legendary coach Phil Jackson be willing to come out of retirement to coach in Brooklyn?
The Nets have Jackson, who was passed over for the Lakers job earlier this season, high on their list of potential replacements for fired coach Avery Johnson, according to multiple reports.
Assistant P.J. Carlesimo will coach the Nets on an interim basis, starting Friday night with a home game against Charlotte. General manager Billy King said the Nets might reach out to other candidates, but for now the job was Carlesimo’s.
The GM wouldn’t comment on Jackson. It’s “a situation that would intrigue” the 11-time champion coach, a source told CBSSports.com.
Jackson’s agent told David Aldridge of NBA.com that “Phil has no interest in the Nets job at this time.”
Emphasis on “at this time.” Aldridge also reported that the Nets have “no top target.”
King said the decision to dismiss Johnson was made by ownership after a phone discussion Thursday morning. 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,” King said.
Johnson 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. It’s part of the business. Fair or unfair, it’s time for a new voice and hopefully they’ll get back on track.”
Johnson’s son wasn’t as reserved. Avery Johnson Jr. lashed out on Twitter after his dad’s ouster.
“This is a f—— Outrage. My dad is a great coach, he just got coach of the month and they Fire him. #Smh. Completely new team he had,” he wrote in a series of tweets.
He added: “The expectations were way to high for this team. We didn’t even have a losing record…. Didn’t even give my dad a full season. #OUTRAGE.”
Star guard Deron Williams recently complained about Johnson’s offense, and Nets CEO Brett Yormark took to Twitter after the loss to Celtics to voice his displeasure with the performance.
King said the change was not made because Williams was unhappy, and he added the point guard himself has to play better.
Johnson also stood by Williams.
“From Day One, I always had a really good relationship with him. I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to hang this on Deron,” Johnson said. “We were just going through a bad streak, a bad spell. It’s not time for me to be down on one player. That would be the easy way.”
Williams told the New York Daily News that he was “surprised” by the firing.
“Avery was a big reason I came back, because of him and Billy. So I was surprised,” he said. “We’ve never had an argument, we’ve never had a fight, any disagreements, anything. So, I think it was more kind of what happened in Utah, people still saying I got Coach Sloan fired even though he resigned and that’s going to stick with me for a while.”
Are Jackson and the Nets a fit? Be heard in the comments!
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