P.J. Carlesimo Out as Nets Head Coach
Josh Newman , Field Reporter
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A mere 15 hours after the Nets were eliminated by the Chicago Bulls, P.J. Carlesimo is looking for a job.
General Manager Billy King surprisingly addressed the media on Sunday afternoon at PNY Center and said the interim head coach will not return after he went 35-19 in 54 games following the firing of Avery Johnson on Dec. 27.
The Nets fell to the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs in seven games, capped by Saturday evening’s 99-93 loss at Barclays Center.
“It was a difficult decision and we talked about it, but looking at the long-term and the future of this organization, I felt it was in the best interest to find the right fit,” said King, who signed a multi-year extension of his own just last month. “I thanked him, he did a hell of a job for us in a difficult situation.”
“By doing it now, there’s a lot of jobs open, so it gives P.J. a chance and it gives us a chance, with a lot of candidates out there, to explore and that’s what we’ll do in the next couple of weeks.”
King maintained that this decision was based on Carlesimo’s entire body of work and not just the early playoff exit. King had a conversation with ownership late Saturday evening after the loss and a decision that was expected by everyone to be made sooner than later one way or the other was made before King went to bed on Saturday.
There is no timetable on hiring a new head coach and King said prior coaching experience is not a prerequisite. He cited Miami Heat head coach Erik Spolestra and Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau as three guys who have found success in their first head coaching experience.
“We’re not gonna rush, we’re gonna take our time and if it takes a month, it’ll take a month,” King said. “We’re gonna try to find the right one and the right fit. I think you just have to look and talk to guys and some guys are natural coaches. Head coaching, assistant coaching, overseas, we’re gonna look everywhere.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that Jeff Van Gundy will be a top target in this search, which was assumed once Johnson was fired in December. King said he would also reach out to Phil Jackson, who has expressed his desire to obtain a front office position, not a coaching position.
“I haven’t talked to him, but I won’t rule anyone out at this point in time,” King said of Jackson, who owns 11 NBA championship rings between coaching stints with Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. “I’m pretty sure I’ll call him. He’s one of the best coaches sitting on the sidelines, so you have to reach out.”
Other early names to keep in mind as the search gets rolling include, but are not limited to Nate McMillan, Jerry Sloan and Stan Van Gundy, both of whom have NBA head coaching experience. Among current NBA assistant coaches, Brian Shaw (Pacers) and Mike Budholzer (Spurs) are names that have been linked to head coaching positions already this spring.
Deron Williams played for Sloan during his first five and a half seasons with the Utah Jazz. The three-time All-Star point guard said on Sunday he would welcome playing for Sloan again.
As for Jeff Van Gundy, a source told the New York Daily News on Sunday afternoon that there is ‘a 98 percent chance’ they won’t even call the former Knicks head coach.
Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has made no secret that he would like to make a big-name splash with his next coach. With that said, one more name to keep in mind is Hall of Famer Larry Brown, who spent six seasons coaching the Philadelphia 76ers while King was the General Manager there. Brown, Brooklyn-born and Long Island-bred, is currently the head coach at Southern Methodist University.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA