Less than a month ago, Avery Johnson was named Coach of the Month. And now, he's been fired as coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
The team announced Thursday that Johnson has been relieved of his coaching duties. After starting the season strong at 11-4, the Nets have dropped 10 of their last 13 games to fall to 14-14.
"The Nets ownership would like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future," owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a release.
Assistant P.J. Carlesimo is expected to take over interim coaching duties, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
Berger reports the firing has come as a shock to some within the organization.
"While not unforeseen given the Nets' struggles, firing Johnson caught some in the organization off guard. Clearly a Prokhorov decision," Berger tweeted. "It was believed that Johnson would be given more time to turn things around after nine losses in 12 games against mostly winning teams."
Johnson became the Nets head coach in 2010 after taking a break from coaching following being fired by the Dallas Mavericks. With the Nets in three seasons he compiled a record of 60-116. Overall as a coach though, he's 254-186 with an NBA Finals appearance.
Johnson was in the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract. He's the second coach to be fired this season as the Lakers relieved Mike Brown just five games into the campaign.
Tension has been mounting recently as the Nets offense completely went in the tank with point guard Deron Williams being openly critical of the offensive schemes the Nets were using. He seemed to publicly campaign for a return to the flex offense he ran in Utah, and Johnson obliged, installing some of those sets for the Nets.
"That system was a great system for my style of play," Williams said a week ago. "I'm a system player. I love coach Sloan's system. I loved the offense there."
Williams is having pretty much a terrible season, shooting a career-low 39.8 percent from the field. As a team, the Nets ranked 11th in offensive efficiency, averaging 102.9 points per 100 possessions. They're actually far worse on the defensive end, giving up 104.0 points per 100 (21st in the league).
But it's the overall picture that likely got Johnson canned. The Nets were big offseason spenders shelling out money to Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson (via trade), Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. With billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov talking Eastern Conference finals or bust, a .500 record as the team approached the new year wasn't good enough.
It's awkward to see a coach fired in December after being honored in November, but Johnson had the assignment to win and with the team slipping, the Nets wanted to act sooner rather than later to try and turn things around.