Avery Johnson Fails To Get Net Result

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst IFebruary 2, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 14:  Head coach Avery Johnson of the New Jersey Nets shouts instructions in the game with the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 14, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

When Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov hired Avery Johnson, he thought he was getting Gregg Popovich.

After all, Johnson told the neophyte owner how much he learned from Popovich and how he would apply those principles to his team. He talked about how he was the guy that turned the Mavericks from a good team to a championship team.

Since Prokhorov knew nothing about the NBA, he trusted whatever Johnson was selling.

Then-Nets president of basketball operations Rod Thorn had other ideas. He wanted to hire either Jeff Van Gundy or Tom Thibodeau to be the next Nets coach. Unfortunately for him, he did not get what he wanted.

Van Gundy did not want the job, and Prokhorov insisted on hiring an experienced coach than a neophyte coach in Thibodeau.

That apparently was enough for Thorn to resign. He didn’t want to deal with Johnson’s diva personality.

Johnson received what he wanted, which is having total control of the basketball operations. If anyone thinks Billy King runs the organization, he or she doesn’t know what goes on with the Nets. King’s title is by name only.

When it came to personnel decisions, Johnson insisted on having input. He wants guys that fit the image of his philosophy, which is working hard and playing defense. He is not a guy that likes to win games on offense. He would have complained about the roster if he worked with a legitimate general manager. and Thorn knew it.

Deep down, Prokhorov's head coach pulled a power play on Thorn to run the basketball operations.

It's interesting to see Johnson want total control. He hasn't won much to dictate what a team should do. For all of his success with the Dallas Mavericks, he couldn't get the Mavericks to respond when the Heat won three straight after losing two straight to start the Finals. The Heat went on to win the Finals in 2006. The following year, the Mavericks lost to an eighth-seeded Warriors team.

The Nets hyped Johnson up this entire offseason, and now, it’s time to judge him for his body of work. It’s been three months, so it’s fair to give a verdict. It hasn’t been good at all.

After a 106-92 loss to the Sixers last night, the Nets are 15-35. Even with several losing teams contending for the last Eastern Conference playoff spots, it’s too late for them to qualify for the playoffs. It’s over. This team does not have it in them to go on a long winning streak and get that last playoff spot.

Blame the coach for what’s going on. The Nets should win at least 25 games by now with what he has to work with. He has Devin Harris and Brook Lopez. Those two should be good enough to win their fair share of games.

For whatever reason, Harris and Lopez regressed as players. Either they do not understand what the coach is saying, or the coach has not done much to make them better players.

Harris looks lost in running the offense. He’s not scoring as much as he used to. Plus, he gets hurt often.

Lopez was supposed to be one of the best big men in the league, but he hasn’t played like it. He gets outrebounded easily, and he’s slow to get to the ball. He does not have the stamina to play well in the second half.

That wasn’t the case when Lawrence Frank was coaching. Those two played at a high level under him. That’s an indictment of how Johnson is developing his players.

The Nets don’t play defense at all. In last night’s game, the Sixers had easy looks when it came to shooting. They also were able to get an offensive rebound, and scored.

A good coach is supposed to be teaching guys to play defense. After all, that’s Johnson’s alleged strength, right? Either guys are not listening or he hasn’t done a good job of teaching it.

The first-year Nets coach has not developed young players this year. Derrick Favors has been ordinary at best. Outside of blocking Jrue Holiday's shot in the first quarter, he didn’t do much in this contest. He has gotten playing time, but he has not made the most of it. One wonders if the coach puts in the work with his rookie.

Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw and Jordan Farmar have done nothing. Those three were fine players before they came to the Nets.

Johnson never makes adjustments in the second half, and this team comes off flat to start the second half. That was the case last night, and it ended with the Nets coach being tossed.

Give this roster to Sixers coach Doug Collins, and this team is a playoff team. Look at what he has done in Philadelphia. The Sixers have a terrible roster, but he has found a way to make it work in his first year as their coach.

Collins has his players play proper basketball. They run the motion offense well, and they defend well. Andre Iguodola, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young developed into productive players this year. He has gotten the most out of Elton Brand.

These Sixers are receptive to coaching. The Nets are not.

It’s remarkable the national media has not marveled at the job Coillins has done this year. The Sixers have the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. No one thought they would make the playoffs, but they likely will. This is an example of good coaching.

If Prokhorov watched the game last night at Russia, he must be wondering why Johnson can't get the same results like Collins. There is no difference between the roster between the Nets and the Sixers.

He also must be second-guessing to why he didn't call Collins when he was available.

If the Russian billionaire wonder if Johnson sold him a bill of goods, it's hard to blame him based on this year's sorry results.