PJ Carlesimo Brings New Energy And Focus To The Brooklyn Nets

By John J. Paolantonio
PJ Carlesimo coaching on sidelines
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports


PJ Carlesimo is now 5-1 since he became the Brooklyn Nets interim head coach more than a week ago when Avery Johnson was fired, and the team has definitely responded to his coaching methods. Carlesimo is not a coach to beat around the bush and he speaks to his players frankly and truthfully.

Joe Johnson is one player who actually enjoys Carlesimo’s approach, which can be rather harsh, as most athletes would rather hear from a straight shooter than someone who talks around the subject.

“He’s pretty forward, man,” Johnson said. “He just kind of tells you like it is. If you ain’t playing worth a —-, he’ll tell you, you ain’t playing worth a —-. As players, some of us may respond a little different to it, but for me, I can appreciate it.”

“It’s been cool, man,” Johnson continued. “I think he’s still trying to figure us out as a team, as players, likes and dislikes. He’s very understanding, a guy you can go to, talk to. He comes at you straight and direct, kind of tells you what he expects from you, and as a player you can really appreciate that.”

Other Nets players find the coaching change to be a blessing in disguise as they now get a second chance to start the season over fresh and prove to the new coach they can play.

One of those players that fell out of favor with Johnson this season was MarShon Brooks. Brooks was buried on the bench because of his “lack of defense” and now seems reinvigorated by the coaching change to Carlesimo.

“I’m not looking over my shoulder anymore.  It’s tough, you know, not knowing when you’re going to get in a game,” said Brooks, who is now playing with supreme confidence again. “It’s a pretty tough situation.”

Mirza Teletovic is another player who couldn’t crack the rotation due to the fact that Johnson was known to say he didn’t think Teletovic can play in the NBA. Teletovic is more than a power forward that can shoot the 3-pointer and he has been waiting for a chance to prove it since Johnson didn’t seem to give him that chance.

“P.J. was very straight-up with me,” Teletovic said. “He said, ‘I know you have struggled these past couple months.’ He told me, ‘I know what you’re capable of. I just want you to have confidence once you get in the game.’ And he told me that he would try to get me into the rotation because I can space the floor.”

Carlesimo spoke about the two bench players that seem to be thriving now with the chance they have received after the last win against the Sacramento Kings. Teletovic and Brooks both had breakout games against the Sacramento Kings and helped lead the Nets to a blowout win.

“We do believe in Mirza and MarShon,” Carlesimo said. “We think MarShon can be a really key piece. But as Brett Brown (a former San Antonio Spurs assistant coach) said, ‘You have to participate in your own rescue.’”

Carlesimo’s upfront coaching style provides players with opportunities to help themselves and in turn help the team. If Carlesimo continues to get the results he has gotten in this “honeymoon” period all through the year he may just get that interim tag taken off and make his case to continue to be the coach of the Nets past this year.

John Paolantonio is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the Brooklyn Nets. Follow John on twitter @pingshoops and like his page on FaceBook.

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