P.J. Carlesimo wasn’t happy when the Brooklyn Nets fired Avery Johnson in late December.
And Carlesimo, who took over for Johnson on an interim basis only to not be retained after going 35-19 during the regular season, still isn’t happy with their decision now.
In the end, according to Carlesimo, expectations for the team were too high and unrealistic.
"Well, I think it made it difficult to keep the job more so for Avery, because Avery was brought in, and he did the dirty work," Carlesimo, now an ESPN analyst, said during a Thursday conference call, according to Newsday.
"You got the two years of getting your head knocked off while they were getting the roster together and getting the salary cap right and all that. Then when the team had a very representative team to put out there and you had all the great things that we all enjoyed this year in Brooklyn, he didn’t get a chance to reap the benefits of those two years, which was unfortunate.
"For me, it’s disappointing only because it's such a good job. I think you know how I feel about it. There are only 30 jobs in this league, but there are a handful that are better than others, and I think Brooklyn is one of those jobs because it’s a team that’s got a chance to win every night. I’ve had very good jobs, and I’ve been as a head coach and an assistant coach obviously when I was in San Antonio in particular, we had a chance to win the whole thing."
The Nets invested approximately $330 million in current and future contracts in the offseason to upgrade their roster after going 46-102 in their first two seasons with Johnson at the helm. Expectations were high, and Johnson, who was in the final year of his contract, was fired after the team got off to a 14-14 start. Brooklyn’s season ultimately ended with a first-round ouster at the hands of the Chicago Bulls.
The Nets are very early in the process of trying to fill their head-coaching vacancy now.
"When you have a job in this league that you have a chance to win every night, that's very special, and Brooklyn is one of those jobs," Carlesimo said.
"Having said that, the expectations to win a championship in two years, that's a heavy load for anybody, not just for Brooklyn. I don't know if that's realistic the way the roster is right now. I would not say that team could not win a championship. We thought we could this year if things broke a little better for us.
"But if you have that on your plate, that you need to win a championship in two years, I think it makes it a little challenging. ... But I still would not call them one of the favorites. I wouldn’t put that on whoever is lucky enough to get the job. I think it's a team that could win a lot of games. I think it's a 50-win team, a playoff team and a team that could do well, particularly in the Eastern Conference. But to win a championship is a bear. Those 16 wins are hard to come by at the end of the year, but the Spurs have 10 of them right now, Miami's got nine. It's hard to get to 16.
"I still do think it's a good job. I think the expectations are maybe not totally realistic, but you'd rather have that from your owner and you know he's got the wherewithal to back it up.