Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Avery Johnson has been around the NBA as a player, media member and head coach for nearly 25 years. When you have that much time logged in the league, few things, if anything, should come as a surprise.
Take this Nets team for example. An 11-4 month of November ended with Johnson being named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month and the team being labeled the best in New York thanks to a win over the Knicks.
That hot start has given way to a 2-8 December, two losses to the Knicks, his franchise point guard, Deron Williams, saying he is having trouble with the offense, and a fan base that has called for Johnson’s job while generally declining into hysterics.
“We had a pretty good November and I was coach of the month,” Johnson quipped in a media availability session after practice on Friday that was more candid than usual. “Then we lose a game, then I’m a terrible coach.”
None of what has gone on lately seems to have rattled Johnson, who is in the final year of a three-year contract. He believes this $330 million roster is good enough to turn it all around, and he even pulled an example from his own experience to make his point.
As a member of the 1998-99 San Antonio Spurs team that won the NBA title after a lockout-shortened, 50-game regular season, head coach Gregg Popovich appeared to be on his way to getting fired after a 6-8 start. The Spurs then ripped off nine straight wins to right the ship and the rest is history.
No matter what happens moving forward, Johnson understands there are things he can control and things that he cannot.
“At some point, after I signed on as a coach, when I signed on the dotted line, a couple of things are going to happen at some point,” Johnson said. One, I’m going to get fired. Two, I’m going to resign. Three, I’m going to get re-signed. As soon as you sign your name on that dotted line. And a lot of times, one of those three we know what’s going to happen because we’re in control. Two of those three we have no control over. So what we do is we continue to do our jobs.”
Johnson continued, “At the end of the day for every coach, one of those three things are going to happen. So right now, what I’m really concerned about is us playing good basketball. So until ownership tells me otherwise, I’m going to continue to do my job.”
With eight losses in 10 games, the Nets to get back on track with home games against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day in a nationally-televised matinee. The Celtics game will be the first end of a back-to-back as the Nets will then travel to the Milwaukee Bucks for a game on Wednesday.
“Who knows what’s gonna happen in January, but it’s a product of the cycle of the season,” Johnson said. “Everything that’s said, people always talk about what’s fair and unfair. I think it’s all fair, whatever it is, good, bad or indifferent.”
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