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Behind The Decision: Billy King on Firing Avery Johnson


It was in the end, Mikhail Prokhorov's call. The Nets owner and his No. 2 didn't like the way things were going, thought that even the wins were awkward, that after spending a third of a billion dollars on the talent, they weren't getting their moneys' worth. it was evident as early as the 22-point collapse against the Timberwolves and as late as the mediocre performance against the Bucks.

So Billy King spoke with ownership for about an hour this morning and the decision was made after that discussion. The final call was Prokhorov's, he told a press conference. "The great thing about ownership is when we decide something, we decide as a group."

Then, came the hard part, telling the coach he had worked with for two and a half years that it was over. "It's never easy when you have to do this, especially with someone you know and have gotten to be good friends with ... I just told him 'Coach like you are completely unaware that we are looking for your replacement right this second.'" The conversation lasted 30 minutes.

He then told the players: "They felt bad, I think is the right thing to say." Andray Blatche tweeted after the meeting that he saw Johnson as a "great coach."

The rationale, he said, was easy. Avery wasn't reaching the players anymore, he said. "We didn't have the same fire we did when we were 11-4 ... "Are we as good as 11-4? I'm not sure; as bad as 14-14, not sure. But I think we can be a better team than we have been."

King wouldn't talk about replacements. Asked about Phil Jackson, King said he wouldn't comment on reports, says he will give "all our support" to Carlesimo. "Right now we're going to go forward with P.J., and see where things go from there."

He also said it wouldn't be fair to pinpoint this on Deron Williams.

Based on tweets by Howard Beck, Rod Boone, Tim Bontemps, Stefan Bondy, Chris Mannix, David Aldridge, John Schuhmann, etc.