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Jeff Van Gundy thinks P.J. Carlesimo deserves to be more than "interim" coach of Brooklyn Nets

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Jeff Van Gundy took himself out of the running for the Nets coaching job early on. Both he and his brother Stan said they would not talk to a team that already had a coach and even with the interim title, P.J. Carlesimo. Jeff Van Gundy had been (and still is) a candidate for the Nets job, but he thinks the Nets shouldn't go looking this summer, that they have the guy they need. Moreover, he says Carlesimo deserves a long-term deal.

"(Carlesimo) has earned that opportunity to come back and be the coach for a long, long time," Van Gundy told USA TODAY.'s Sam Amick. "I like the way the team is playing. They play hard. It seems like (Deron) Williams and Joe Johnson are playing with a little more energy, Brook Lopez has been terrific. I think P.J. has done a wonderful job."

Van Gundy noted as well Carlesimo's experience, which is broader, if not more successful, than Van Gundy's.

"He's coached for 40 years, he's been to the pinnacle of the NCAA Finals, he's been a head coach for three different organizations, he won (three championships) with the (San Antonio) Spurs (as a lead assistant in 2003, 2005, 2007). I mean he has seen it all.

"So if you're going to have an interim coach, he can draw on all these vast experiences. And I think he's handled everything just as anyone who knows him would expect – with class and grace and dignity. He's a terrific, terrific basketball coach."