Loyer to replace Harris as lead assistant

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Del Harris resigned as assistant coach of the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday, yet another blow to a team on pace for the worst record in NBA history.

The news of Harris' departure was first reported by the Star-Ledger of Newark during New Jersey's 97-93 loss to the Detroit Pistons, dropping the Nets' record to 4-43.

Harris, 72, was hired to assist interim coach coach Kiki Vandeweghe after Lawrence Frank was fired when the Nets got off to an 0-16 start.

"I have seen Kiki go from a man who was trying to encourage a team that was down to one who has developed a good sense of coaching," Harris said in a statement released after the game. "I believe in these recent games there is strong evidence that the team has gotten over the hump and will be much more competitive the rest of the way."

Harris said he was returning home to Dallas, adding he enjoyed his time with the Nets.

"I had not experienced such a losing situation since 1983, but because the players are such good people, the losing of games did not become the chaotic situation that has happened to so many teams who were locked into a total rebuilding year," Harris said in the statement.

Donnie Nelson, the co-owner of the Dallas Mavericks' D-League franchise in Frisco, Texas, said Harris is welcome to resume his duties as general manager if he chooses. The team begins play in the fall.

"I told him the GM chair will be open," said Nelson, also the Mavericks president of basketball operations. "It's there for him. We're fully hoping and expecting he will come back."

Assistant coach John Loyer is expected to step into Harris' role as lead assistant.

Chris Sheridan is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.