Van Gundy: P.J. deserves job

ESPN basketball analyst Jeff Van Gundy, himself thought of as a candidate to become the permanent head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, believes P.J. Carlesimo deserves to have his interim tag removed.

“(Carlesimo) has earned that opportunity to come back and be the coach for a long, long time,” Van Gundy told USA Today on Thursday. “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.”

The Nets think highly of Van Gundy, sources said after the team fired Avery Johnson, and consider him a viable option assuming he was interested. But Van Gundy did not want to take the job midseason, preferring to start at the beginning of next season if he were to be hired. Van Gundy had repeatedly said he did not want to comment on the job because Carlesimo currently has it.

Carlesimo is 13-5 since taking over for Johnson. But the Nets, sources say, may decide to pursue the likes of Phil Jackson and Van Gundy upon the conclusion of the 2012-13 campaign.