Rape investigations aside, of course.
So who’s to thank for the turnaround? Improving to 20-15 from 14-14 since the dismissal of Avery Johnson, the team has played with much better chemistry in recent games, and more importantly, the play of point guard Deron Williams has gone up several notches. Certainly, interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo deserves praise for winning six of seven games since taking over the team, but is he letting his current situation get to his head a little bit?
Rumors have indicated owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s desire to acquire legendary coach Phil Jackson at some point, but ask Carlesimo who he thinks is best fit to run the Nets, and he won’t hesitate to tell you that the answer lies in himself. Here is his Jordan Crawford-esque logic about why he feels the way he does, from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York:
P.J. Carlesimo believes the Brooklyn Nets have already found the permanent replacement for their head coaching position: himself. “I think I am,” Carlesimo replied to ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian O’Connor when asked if he believed he was the best man for the job long-term. “Any coach is going to believe he’s the best one. I believe I’m the best one for the job, and it would be foolish for me not to believe that.”… Still, Carlesimo understands his title is anything but permanent at this juncture. “It’s reality, and Michael (Mikhail Prokhorov) as the owner and Billy (King) as the GM have got to figure out who is the best guy going forward,” Carlesimo told O’Connor. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity that Avery gave me by bringing me here (as an assistant), and now I get to audition. “… I can’t control Phil and Jeff and Stan and whoever else is out there, they’re all really good coaches. But we’re here and our guys right now are playing their a–es off and hopefully that continues.” “That’s the biggest thing. The more people talk about it, the more I think about it, because I don’t talk about it at all.
In reality, Carlesimo’s situation is reminiscent to that of Bernie Bickerstaff, who briefly took over the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the season to compile a record of 4-1 by taking advantage of a relatively friendly schedule – all at Staples Center. This is the whole point of firing a coach when the schedule gets softer: to make the decision of firing him seem like the right decision when the next guy takes over by beating up on bad teams.
Lets take a look at how the Nets have gotten to this point: of their last six victories, only one of those teams – the Oklahoma City Thunder – hold a winning record, while three of those teams are the very worst three teams in the entire league. The two contests against Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards came down to the absolute wire. Sound victories over the Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers – losers of five consecutive games – is nice, but they are also struggling teams that lack direction.
In other words, take the Nets’ recent success with a grain of salt.
We still have no idea if the problems that ended Johnson’s tenure will arise again against tougher competition, and the schedule does get a little tougher in February, when they face seven of eleven teams that currently hold a winning record. At the end of February is when we’ll have a better idea of just exactly what the Nets will be this season under an interim coach with the utmost confidence in his abilities.
Onto other news from around the league: