SH Blog: Carlesimo says Nets have unrealistic expectations, LeBron disagrees with MJ’s scouting report

CarlesimoIt’s always interesting to hear candid thoughts from former players or coaches about the situations of the teams they used to play for or coached.

P.J. Carlesimo, the former interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, is now an ESPN analyst. Able to share all his thoughts in an objective matter, Carlesimo had plenty to say about what level of talent the Nets really have, why it’s bad for the league to be a players league, and what it really means when headlines say a coach has “lost the locker room”. Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News has all the details:

“But, again, everybody starts the year saying we want to win a championship.  Brooklyn has more reason to say that than a lot of the other teams in the league. I still would not call them one of the favorites.  I wouldn’t put that on whoever is lucky enough to get the job.  I think it’s a team that could win a lot of games.  I think it’s a 50-win team, a playoff team and a team that could do well, particularly in the Eastern Conference.  But to win a championship is a bear. …I still do think it’s a good job.  I think the expectations are maybe not totally realistic, but you’d rather have that from your owner and you know he’s got the wherewithal to back it up. That’s his goal.”

Not many believed the Nets were true contenders this season, especially after seeing how badly some of the key signings – like Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries – had regressed, along with the consistently inconsistent play of Joe Johnson. It’s intriguing to hear Carlesimo note that he, too, privately believed that too much was expected of him and this team so soon.

“What is not good in the league right now, and it’s just reality – it’s a players league; there is no question about that.  But it can’t be the point where players hire and fire coaches because that’s not going to work.  If you look at the places that have been successful, it’s where the best players – look at Miami.  It’s because Dwyane and LeBron have Spo’s back.  Spo, a lot of people when he got the job people said how can he coach this big three, this famous group?  What makes it work is those guys empower him. …It doesn’t make it easy to coach when you don’t feel that your general manager or your owner has your back.”

The simple translation of the above quote appears to be this: “My players didn’t support me as their coach, so I was basically doomed and that’s not fair.” The interesting note and irony about how coaches are enabled by players is that Deron Williams constantly shared his support of Carlesimo through much of the season. Perhaps what he said to the media and what his body language said on the court stated two different things.

“It’s spin that the players or agents or general manager trying to rationalize as opposed to saying, hey, that’s my coach.  I back him a hundred percent; end of discussion.  When you have anything short of that kind of backing, you get people throwing out things like that well, he’s lost the locker room. That’s because an agent is upset that his player isn’t playing, or a player doesn’t like the way he’s being asked to do something or the general manager is trying to sense would it be a popular thing if we got rid of this guy?  Say what it is.  Let them say what it is. This particular player won’t play for him or something like that, doesn’t like him, this guy’s a player. When you fire a player’s coach, it’s because he’s too easy on players. That’s all spin or what you say when you make a change or how you’re trying to sell a change when you’re trying to make it.”

The fascinating thing about hearing things of this nature from a guy like Carlesimo is that we sometimes wonder why some coaches do the things they do. Generally, there is a tendency to feel negatively towards them when they fail and simply think they just don’t get it. You hear the man speak, though, and it’s crystal clear that he is quite aware of his surroundings and has a great understanding of why things happen the way they do.

When fans hear from the media that a coach has “lost the locker room”, they usually believe in the sentiment. What they don’t consider is that all it takes for a rumor of that nature to float around is for a single unhappy player or his agent to whisper into the ears of a reporter. For example (and I’m not saying this is what happened), a promising second-year player like MarShon Brooks, who barely got any playing time under Carlesimo, could easily express his displeasure privately. It doesn’t take a whole lot for his agent to spread rumors that the locker room is at an unrest, and that’s not a fair situation for a coach, who can only do so much to repair the image that has been portrayed of him by an unnamed source.

Carlesimo is probably bitter about how things ended for him in what could potentially have been his final run as the head coach of an NBA team. Based on his logic about what went down and the situations he was forced to deal with, it’s hard to blame him.

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  1. jerry25 says

    There’s a lot of misinformation about PJ Carlesimo.

    Not really true that he lost the locker room. He is a player’s coach and isn’t tough on the players. A few lesser players, like MarShon and Teletovic were upset with their lack of playing time. Wallace was upset at the end, with not being used correctly. The rookies, especially Toko Shengelia, had good reason to be upset, with being inactive most of the year, but he didn’t complain.

    PJ was let go because he likely received many, many suggestions (warnings) from the front office, which he apparently chose to ignore, despite most fans and superiors in the organization felt were good ideas. He would have been released even if he got past the Bulls, although that made the decision easier.

    Nets called more Iso plays under PJ than any coach in the NBA. He had no creativity on offense.

    Wallace Regressed since he took over and there was never any strategy in how to use Gerald. Even Avery Johnson realized that Reggie Evans and Wallace shouldn’t be playing at the same time because opponents would clog the middle. It was obvious. Instead he benched Hump and began starting Evans and playing him 35 minutes most nights. He even played Reggie 50 minutes in the OT loss to Bulls in game 4 where Blatche played 1/2 as many minutes.

    Blatche gained back some of the weight that was lost while Avery was coach, and PJ didn’t seem to know that Andray used to be a PF. He never for the whole season practiced any plays for Lopez with Blatche. Although time and time again it was proven that Lopez + Blatche was the best line up, it never seemed to sink in. in that dreadful 3OT loss to the Bulls in Game 4, Blatche didn’t play from the beginning of the 4th quarter until the end, when Evans finally fouled out.

    Then there was regression by MarShon, Teletovic not being used properly and maybe most of all having 21 year old rookie sensation Toko Shengelia inactive most of the year, despite proving to be a super high energy guy who could score inside, and defend, at the SF position, with that being the weakest position on the team. GM Billy King had to send Toko and Tyshawn Taylor to the D-League multiple times, just to get some game experience. They proved to be 2 of the best players in the D-League, but each time they returned to the team, PJ would continue to have them Inactive.
    Toko was Inactive for the entire 7 game playoffs, despite the need as SF, with JJ playing on one leg. Toko was the star of the game in the one chance he had to play more than 3 minutes (next to last game) in the 2nd half the season.
    PJ knew that he was going to get fired for not developing the young players.
    Hump also regressed under PJ and even Avery Johnson recognized it was better to start Hump than Evans. It wasn’t until the end of the season, that PJ realized that Hump wasn’t that bad.

    The Nets front office felt that the team under-achieved with PJ. That is why he was fired.

    No, the Nets weren’t going to be able to challenge the Heat, but with one big trade using Hump and other assets they could have moved to elite level and clear 2nd best team in the East. That is what the next coach will be expected to do.

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