Firing Johnson Won't Fix the Nets' Problems

Brooklyn's flaws go much deeper than the coaching staff

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    It's the end of the line for Avery Johnson.

    If the New Jersey Nets ever fired their head coach after a 14-14 start, it would have been surprising because the team wasn't used to such success. 

    But the firing of Avery Johnson wasn't too much of a surprise. Avery Johnson's team has lost 10 of their last 13 games. Players are complaining and their strong start to the season seems as distant a memory as the days when Dr. J was a member of the team. 

    After hyping the arrival in the big city to massive heights, the Nets have crashed and burned to the point that the team president tweeted out an apology after the lopsided Christmas loss to the Celtics. The Nets were not competitive in Milwaukee on Wednesday night either, leading to the ouster of the man who was the NBA's coach of the month in November. 

    "The Nets ownership would like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future," Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement.

    Deron Williams didn't play on Wednesday night, but he's been outspoken with his complaints about the offense that the team ran with Johnson calling the plays. Add in the way he helped force out Jerry Sloan in Utah and the Nets might have a hard time finding an established coach who is willing to take on a job that includes pleasing Williams at every turn. 

    P.J. Carlesimo, best known for taking Seton Hall to the NCAA finals and being choked out by Latrell Sprewell, will reportedly take over for Johnson and one imagines he'll be gearing things toward Williams' whims in the immediate future. How much difference that will make is up for discussion, though. 

    Gerald Wallace, who was moved to power forward as Kris Humphries and his massive salary went to the bench in one of Johnson's recent gambits, said after the loss to the Bucks that his teammates were freelancing too much and not working to meet team goals. That sounds better than saying that the team simply isn't as good as some might have hoped, but that doesn't make it true. 

    The Nets are a flawed team whose entire reason to believe that a big season was in the offing was based on Williams being a superstar. He's a very good player, to be sure, but he hasn't been close to a superstar this year and it's hard to believe that he's just going to turn back into one now that Johnson's gone. 

    Joe Johnson is a second banana being paid top dollars, Brook Lopez's defense washes out his offense and the bench doesn't look any good unless Jerry Stackhouse is playing like he traveled back in time. Problems everywhere you look and, thanks to all the spending this offseason, very little chance to unwind them via alterations to the roster. 

    Needless to say, this isn't what the Nets were hoping for in their first season as Brooklyn residents. At least the borough is familiar with being told to wait for next year. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.