The Brooklyn Nets look like they'll be a team on the rise this upcoming season, but head coach Avery Johnson will be on the hot seat right from the beginning. If his team doesn't begin the season stringing together a few wins, how long will management give him before he gets the boot?
He may have already put himself in a pretty bad position. Earlier this month, Johnson was quoted as saying that the Nets are "not a championship team."
Here's the full quote from Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:
Deron (Williams) was a big key to the whole puzzle. To be able to acquire some other talent through free agency or trades or re-signing some of our own guys, it’s pretty exciting for us. We’re not there yet. We’re not a championship team. We got a lot of work to do. But at the same time, we have a much better talent pool than we’ve had the last two years.
Who knows, maybe Johnson was just trying to temper expectations. Still, Johnson essentially disrespected the hard work that general manager Billy King put into the team this offseason.
He worked hard to re-sign guys like Williams, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, while also acquiring Joe Johnson, signing Brook Lopez to an extension and beefing up the bench depth.
This team was built to win a championship within the next three seasons, as per owner Mikhail Prokhorov's request, and going against that goal was probably not a smart move.
This comment won't be what potentially gets Johnson fired, however.
In the past two seasons with the Nets, Johnson has been at the helm of two underperforming teams. In 2010-2011, Johnson's Nets went an underwhelming 24-58. This past season, the Nets went 22-44.
While there was a clear improvement between the two seasons (they almost matched their 2010-2011 win total in 16 games less), Brooklyn was still 22 games under .500.
This season, expectations are high—and rightfully so.
Nets fans and management haven't had this much to be excited for since the Jason Kidd-led Nets made it to the NBA Finals. Ever since then, the Nets have been a franchise mired in irrelevance and underperformance.
Now, new faces and increased depth on the bench give the Nets a legitimate shot at contending in the Eastern Conference.
This season's performance won't be put solely on the shoulders of the players, though. Johnson's previous weak records with the Nets leave much to be desired. Sure, the talent level was not on par with what he has at his disposal now. Even so, if he can't rally his players together, there's going to be a big issue down in Brooklyn.
Just look at the New York Knicks last season. The team had all the individual talent in the world, but Mike D'Antoni was unable to get it done as head coach. Enter Mike Woodson, and you've got yourself a team that began playing much closer to its full potential.
One thing going for Johnson is the level of success that he had with the Dallas Mavericks. In a little over three seasons in Dallas, Johnson led the Mavericks to a record of 194-70. In 2005-2006, the Mavericks were the Western Conference champions and finished 19 games over .500.
But, that was then. Johnson's job could very well be on the hot seat this season. With the right pieces in place, there's not much time for Johnson to turn this team into a contender.
With the Barclay's Center ready to be played in, and the team ready to move into its new home in Brooklyn, management wants to put a winning product on the floor quickly.
Personally, I give him until the quarter-mark of the season. If the Nets are any less than three games over .500, expect a change to be made. At the very least, expect management to make it known that Johnson may not have a job much longer unless he shapes his team up.
No matter the outcome of the early portion of this season, the Nets will be one of the most talked about teams in the league. Much of the blame will be put on Johnson if the Nets don't succeed right away, though, and he may not ever be given the chance to redeem himself in Brooklyn.