P.J. Carlesimo, the Brooklyn Nets interim head coach following the December 27 firing of Avery Johnson, has the full backing of the team — for the time being, anyway.
Moreover, despite all the buzz about hiring Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy, Nets General Manager Billy King claims that the team has not pursued anyone in connection with taking the coaching gig on a permanent basis.
In an ESPN radio interview today, King addressed the Nets coaching situation:
“We’ve put our support behind (P.J.) and then we’ll look at things and evaluate it later. I know people have been throwing lists together and things like that, but we have not contacted anybody. … We’ve made the move and now we’re going to let P.J. coach …”
“I don’t know how many times I can say it or Mikhail can say it. P.J.’s our coach. We’re gonna let him coach and then re-evaluate things. I know Mikhail said it about 10 times when he was asked, and I’ve been saying it, and I think people just keep dismissing what we say.”
Mikhail is Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the Nets owner.
King added that Carlesimo has a great opportunity to finish out the season as Nets coach.
In general, the tricky thing is that history has shown that when a sports executive in the midst of team turmoil gives a coach or manager a vote of confidence, that coach or manager is usually about 24 hours from being bum-rushed out of town.
P.J. Carlesimo has wide-ranging experience as an NBA head coach and assistant coach. He was also this close to winning the NCAA National Championship as head coach of the Seton Hall University basketball team. Michigan defeated Seton Hall 80-79 in overtime for the 1989 title only as a result of a phantom foul call on Seton Hall.
In 1997, as head coach of the Golden State Warriors, Carelsimo was choked by Latrell Sprewell during a team practice. The Warriors voided Sprewell’s contract almost immediately, and the NBA suspended Sprewell for the rest of the season.
Carlesimo, who is 2-0 since taking over the Nets, nonetheless enjoys a good reputation around the NBA, as the New York Times reports:
“People tended to like and respect him, especially other coaches. Mike Krzyzewski chose him as an assistant for the 1990 world championships. Ditto Chuck Daly for the Dream Team at the Barcelona Summer Olympics in 1992. Carlesimo was Popovich’s top lieutenant on three championship teams, and Johnson hired him with the Nets.”
Who do you think will become the permanent (if there is anything like permanency in the NBA) successor to Avery Johnson as Nets head coach?