Avery Johnson sat with Bruce Beck on WNBC's Mike'd Up Sunday night and talked about how excited he is about his team, while at the same time praising most of his players and volunteering that Andray Blatche could be "a steal" for the Nets. He also disclosed that the Nets "overhauled" their strength and conditioning program in the off-season to help prevent a recurrence of last year's injury-plagued season.
"It's about putting together a team," Johnson told Beck, then talked about how he hopes the Nets can emulate Detroit's "Bad Boys" from the late 1980's. "That's what Billy (King) and I talk about, putting together a team. If you look at the 1989 Pistons, they were a team. We feel we have that type of players, the Joe Dumars, the Dennis Rodmans, the guys like Reggie Evans who can do that kind of dirty work."
In what could be a slap at some other squads in Eastern Conference contention, Johnson added, "We're trying to be the best team. We don't have to be the best individuals."
As for individuals, Johnson said the Nets think Blatche "could be one of the steals of free agency," adding that Brook Lopez and Blatche will "have to anchor our defense with Reggie Evans." He reiterated that Lopez is going to "have to rebound the basketball."
Asked about keeping Lopez healthy, the coach disclosed, "We've also overhauled our strength and conditioning program. We took a hard look at what we were doing before games, practice days. We want brook Lopez to be healthy. we want our whole team to be healthy. We were the most injured team in the NBA with player games missed and we can't afford that this year." The Nets lost 248 games to injury and illness and another seven to personal reasons last season, the most in the NBA. The team also had six season-ending injuries and 23 different starting lineups, both league highs as well.
Johnson repeated the company line about the Nets' rivalry with the Knicks, one already voiced by Mikhail Prokhorov, Billy King and Deron Williams. "We dont want to win all four of our games with the Knicks and lose to everybody else. That's not what we signed up for ... We're trying to win a championship."