BROOKLYN – The Nets beat the 76ers 95-92 on Sunday, and Avery Johnson made some desperate changes to his team’s rotation in order to save his job.
After losing the last three games and eight of their previous 10, Johnson decided changes needed to be made. He used the two days of practice after the loss to the Knicks to make those adjustments, notably removing Kris Humphries from the rotation.
By doing so, not only is Johnson already abandoning a system that could have brought him the most long-term success, but he is also in danger of upsetting one of the two players that has been with him throughout the entirety of his tenure as Nets head coach.
This is a recipe for failure, not to mention a waste of a $12 million -a-year player.
“I visited [Humphries] in my office before, and it’s basically a coach’s decision,” Johnson said. “He’s healthy, he’s fine, he’s not in the doghouse, we just needed to try something else.”
Humphries, who re-signed with Brooklyn for two years and $24 million deal before the season, said he was frustrated when Avery Johnson told him, but took it maturely.
“He said he was starting Gerald (Wallace) and it was going to be inconsistent for me for a little while,” Humphries said. “I really didn’t know it was going to be a DNP, but you have to be ready to handle anything in the NBA.”
The Nets boast a roster that can play much bigger than others, allowing them to dominate in the post. Simultaneously, playing bigs slowed the team down and decreased space for Deron Williams, who thrives on driving to the basket, and Joe Johnson, who excels at playing one-on-one with his back-to-the-basket.
“Over 60% of the league is playing this way,” Avery Johnson said as he defended his lineup overhaul. “We’ve had a lot of issues when we looked back at our offense over the first 25 games.
“We wanted to get more space for some of our scorers, we wanted Gerald to ignite our break for us because he’s pretty good at that, and we needed another 3-point shooter and defender in the lineup, so that’s why we went to Bogans.”
Who can blame Johnson for making the change after the results in December? He’s been on the hot seat with the poor showing from his team this month, so must have felt that something drastic needed to be done.
But did Avery Johnson forget that his big rotation went 11-3 to start the season? Did he forget about the impressive wins over the Celtics and the Knicks? Sure, the Nets had lost a bunch, but did he forget that Brook Lopez was out for seven games during that stretch and he’s only recently been at full strength?