Nets fire head coach Avery Johnson
The Nets' December slide has claimed its first casualty: Avery Johnson.
The Nets "relieved" the head coach of his duties Thursday afternoon, announced GM Billy King.
Johnson had been named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for October and November after leading the Nets to an 11-4 record. But the team went 3-10 this month, resulting in Johnson's departure.
"The Nets ownership would like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future," principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement.
Now the Nets (14-14) will limp into Friday's matchup against the 7-21 Charlotte Bobcats at the Barclays Center minus Johnson, who had coached the team since the 2010-11 season. The Nets were 60-116 during his tenure. An interim head coach has not yet been announced.
Following the Nets' 108-93 loss to the Bucks in Milwaukee Wednesday night, swingman Gerald Wallace ripped his team's current play.
"Right now, I just think we are playing selfish, selfish basketball," he said. "It's not about the team. It's about individual players and we've got to get back to playing within the team system. Trusting each other as coach says and doing the extra things for your teammate.
"It's not all about one person. One person can't win. We don't have that Michael Jordan on our team who can just take over a game. We have to do it as a team, man, and right now we are not doing that."
Wallace said he is stunned at the Nets' freefall. He never foresaw these struggles on the horizon when the Nets were sitting atop the conference standings a month ago.
"It's very surprising because if you look at the way we played, we shared the ball and moved the ball. The offense was easy," Wallace said. "But the main thing, not even offensively, is defense. I think it showed in this game. When we came out and we were helping each other defensively, our rotations were together, and we were able to get out on the floor, and it makes our offense look a whole lot better.
"But you know when guys start going to that 'I' and thinking about themselves offensively, then it messes things up on defense and we look discombobulated. We look just like a selfish team."
Asked how can the Nets get back to a more cohesive style that provided their winning formula, Wallace said: "I hope losing hurts as bad for everybody as it does for me . . . Guys have to look themselves in the mirror and figure this out."
Offense wasn't supposed to be a problem with this team, given the Nets' bevy of scorers. Virtually everyone has the ability to put the ball in the basket, but the isolation and one-on-one play at times can be a bit much. The ball isn't swinging consistently enough to the open man.
"Confidence is our problem now," Wallace said. "I think that's our main problem now. Guys have got too much confidence in themselves and are not trusting in the team.
"We've got to do everything as a team instead of relying on one guy to do this and one guy to do that and thinking that's going to get us through the night."