When Avery Johnson won N.B.A. Coach of the Month honors, the Nets were 11-4 and looked like Eastern Conference contenders.
That was way back in November.
Today, a month later, the Nets fired Johnson, after a 3-10 slide put them at 14-14 on the season. Three of their four worst losses came within the past week.
The Nets' locker room had apparently grown restive, and not the players Johnson had forsaken, like Kris Humphries; just the opposite.
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Garald Wallace, just promoted to power forward and given a greater share of the team's offense, blasted the team's complacency following Wednesday night's loss to the Bucks. Deron Williams, whose struggles are largely responsible for the Nets' recent problems, sounded off about the team's offense, even though Johnson had imported much of the playbook from Williams' previous employer, the Utah Jazz, expressly to make him more comfortable.
He began the second quarter against the Bucks, in what turns out to have been his final game as coach, with this lineup: TyShawn Taylor, Joe Johnson, Jerry Stackhouse, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche. It is less a strategy, and more a cry for help.
There really wasn't much else for Avery Johnson to do. The Nets need to hope this is simply a matter of players playing beneath their capabilities. If so, a new coach can allow the Nets to reach the moderately lofty heights they seemed destined to reach back in the heady days of last month; a playoff series, possibly with home court advantage in the first round.
For now, P.J. Carlesimo, who had been assisting Johnson, will have the interim tag and attempt to right the course.
Given the contract lengths and prices, the Nets are locked into this core roster for years.
They'd better hope it turns out to have been the coach, somehow, who was the problem.