The Brooklyn Nets went 35-19 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo after he took over for Avery Johnson when Johnson was fired this past December after the Nets went 14-14 to start the season. Johnson did lead the Nets to an 11-4 start but the team quickly fell into a slump until Carlesimo replaced Johnson.
There has been much speculation that the Nets were going to fire Carlesimo unless the team made the NBA Finals, something Carlesimo himself alluded to. Unless the Nets had a potential deal in place for a big name like Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy, or even Jerry Sloan, I think it was the wrong move to fire Carlesimo.
Without a training camp, without being able to put his own stamp on the team and with his star shooting guard Joe Johnson ailing during the playoffs, Carlesimo still guided the Nets to a Game 7 in the first round. Maybe the Nets would have fared better if Carlesimo had been able to put his stamp on the team with a full training camp. Maybe not. Now, it doesn’t matter. The Nets are looking for their third head coach in less than a year.
Carlesimo is a very good basketball coach. However, he doesn’t have a very good track record in the playoffs with his teams going 6-13 but three of those wins came with the Nets this season. Carlesimo didn’t do anything to warrant being fired. Sure the Nets struggled after taking a 1-0 lead in the playoff series and they were dominated in the decisive Game 7. How much of that was directly related to Carlesimo’s coaching? Certainly some blame rests with the coach but all of it?
The next head coach of the Nets will have a ton of pressure on them and there will be even more pressure on the team to go deep in the playoffs if the next head coach is someone like Jackson or Van Gundy. Regardless of who the coach is it will be up to the players to live up to those expectations and go deep into the playoffs. The talent is there. Will the coaching be there is the real question now.