Nets PG Deron Williams’ recent measured praise for former coach Jerry Sloan was greeted by some as either ironic or a poorly-veiled attack on Avery Johnson. With Johnson’s firing Thursday, Brooklyn not only returned one mustard-enthusiast to the head coaching ranks, they also moved the media’s cross-hairs from Johnson to D-Will. While there’s a fair bit of blame to pass around at the Barclays Center, “Williams is the reason Johnson won’t be a Net into 2013,” writes Ball Don’t Lie’s Kelly Dwyer :
Williams’ sub-40-percent shooting and inability to curb his insistence on chucking 3-pointers (despite a 29 percent mark from long range) did in the former Dallas Mavericks coach. But it’s also probably true that Avery wasn’t right for this job. Williams refuses to be the penetrator he was in Utah, that’s to be sure, but it was always going to take a different voice to pull something new out of the team’s most important player – and you can’t bide time for 67 games with Williams during a rebuilding project from February 2011 until April 2012 and expect the same voice and player to flip the switch once they get some free-agent help.
It’s human nature, sadly. Johnson and Williams never got over working in that rebuilding mode. On top of that, Johnson rarely adjusted and expectations weren’t met. His team has been hit by injuries and his roster was less than ideal in spots. High-priced players, workers featuring contracts that weren’t always on par with production. An $83.5 million lineup, four players making double-figure salaries and a .500 record. Throw in the nationally televised Christmas day embarrassment that saw no Net besides Gerald Wallace seeming to care about his team’s fortunes, the fortune the team’s high-profile owners were spending and the decidedly un-cool and old-school New York Knicks running away with the division, and you can see why it got to be too much.