NEW YORK — Avery Johnson was fired Thursday as coach of the Brooklyn Nets, who have fallen to .500 in their season of new surroundings and elevated expectations.
After a strong start to their first season in Brooklyn, the Nets have lost 10 of 13 games to fall well behind the first-place New York Knicks, the team they so badly want to compete with in their new home.
But after beating the Knicks in their first meeting Nov. 26, probably the high point of Johnson's tenure, the Nets went 5-10 and frustrations have been mounting.
The Nets were embarrassed by Boston on national TV on Christmas, then were routed by Milwaukee 108-93 on Wednesday night for their fifth loss in six games.
Star guard Deron Williams recently complained about Johnson's offense, and Nets CEO Brett Yormark took to Twitter after the loss to Celtics to voice his displeasure with the performance.
Nets fans deserved better today. The entire organization needs to work harder to find the solution. We will get there.— Brett Yormark (@brettyormark) December 25, 2012
This is not the first time Williams has struggled with his head coach. He has been widely blamed for the sudden retirement of former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and the subsequent mid-season trade that sent him to Brooklyn in exchange for Derrick Favors and Devin Harris. Harris was part of an offseason trade last summer that sent him to Atlanta and brought former Clippers guard Mo Williams to Utah.
General manager Billy King announced the dismissal Thursday without saying who will be interim coach. The Nets next play at home Friday against Charlotte.
Brooklyn started the season 11-4, winning five in a row to end November, when Johnson was Eastern Conference coach of the month. But he couldn't do anything to stop this slump, one the Nets never anticipated after a summer spending spree they believed would take them toward the top of their conference.
Johnson has been the Nets' coach for a little more than two seasons. He went 60-116 with the Nets, who moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn to start the 2012-13 season. Johnson coached the Dallas Mavericks to an appearance in the NBA Finals in 2006.
This is the NBA's second coaching change this season following the dismissal of Mike Brown by the Los Angeles Lakers.