Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's Next For The Nets?

Avery Johnson (right) has been fired as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
His top assistant, P.J. Carlesimo (left), has been named the interim head coach.
      Brooklyn Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov claimed he made his decision last week, but the other day signified the end of the Avery Johnson era with the Nets. After posting a 60-116 record in less than three seasons with the Nets, Johnson was relieved of his head coaching duties. His assistant, P.J. Carlesimo, was named the interim coach and led the Nets to a dominating win against the Charlotte Bobcat in his debut, 97-81. The Nets started out the season great, so well that Johnson was named Coach of the Month for October/November. In December, however, the Nets have won four out of 14 games played which led to Prokhorov's quick, brash decision to fire his head coach. Let's examine what could be next for the Nets.

1. The Head Coaching Carousel

      Now that Johnson is no longer associated with the Nets, Brooklyn will be searching for a new head coach immediately. Prokhorov stood by Carlesimo in a recent media conference and seems to want to give him a fair chance. But, he did not deny rumors or speculation of looking for a new head coach including one of the most hailed coaches of all-time, Phil Jackson. According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the coaching list of the Nets includes Jackson, Brooklyn native Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy and Nate McMillan. Obviously, the Nets are going to pursue Jackson more than any coach ever before. McMillan and Dunleavy have had pedestrian yet respectable coaching careers, but neither are truly the big name Prokhorov covets in his head coach. Van Gundy is an intriguing option, but reports are that the former New York Knicks head coach would rather gauge the possibility after the season. For now, it figures that Carlesimo will get his audition over the next few weeks. Whether he capitalizes on it or not will determine who coaches the Nets for the rest of this season.

2. The Trade Market

      Could the Nets be in the market already? When a team has an owner determined to overtake the crosstown rival Knicks and win a championship, a fan should not be surprised of any bold moves the team might make. General Manager Billy King has plenty of work to do over the next few months, but the team has very little assets. Forward Kris Humphries and guard MarShon Brooks are the Nets' most attractive pieces and the Nets might be willing to trade them for a more skilled power forward like Atlanta's Josh Smith, Utah's Paul Millsap, Toronto's Andrea Bargnani or Indiana's David West. The Nets could also be in the market for shooters off the bench, because Keith Bogans and Jerry Stackhouse have shown to be the only real threats. As of late, the veteran Stackhouse has struggled after suffering an injury, but Bogans has been proficient from behind the 3-point line. Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic, the one the Nets viewed as a threat shooter off the bench, has been a bust in the early stages of his NBA career. The Nets could target, as previously mentioned, Bargnani of the Raptors, as well as Phoenix's Jared Dudley, Boston's Courtney Lee or Orlando's J.J. Redick. If the Nets decide to deal the much-embattled Humphries, a trade would take place after January 15th because of his current contract. Brooks, an offensive talent with the potential to become a juggernaut, could thrive in a sixth man role if given more playing time. However, his lack of defensive prowess finds him on the bench more often times than not and it may hurt his value to other teams. Several analysts have thrown out the possibility of the Nets trading one of their "core players" (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez) but the situation would be highly unlikely unless one of them is absurdly struggling or an offer is simply too good to pass up.

3. Getting Deron Williams Back to All Star Form

      Any true NBA fan, not just Nets fans, know that Deron Williams is a better player than he has been this season. Before Carlesimo's coaching debut against Charlotte, Williams expressed his lack of confidence in his jump shot. However, he scored 17 points in the first half and his jumper looked as sweet as it ever has all season. Williams will have several tough tests ahead, where he'll be facing some of the NBA's top point guards in Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. If Carlesimo can motivate Williams properly and get him good-looking, open shots against these talented point guards, Williams might be able to string solid consecutive performances and be recognized again as the All Star that he truly is. His confidence would build and he'd single-handedly make the Nets a definitive force in the Eastern Conference again.

      Do you think it was the right move for the Nets to fire Avery Johnson? Who do you think will be the Nets' new head coach for the 2013-14 season? Because of their struggles, do you think Humphries and Brooks could be sent out the door and in exchange for whom? And how do you think the coaching change will affect the game and reputation of Deron Williams? Sound off in the comments section below!

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