Johnson surprised by D'Antoni news

Nets coach Avery Johnson said he was taken by surprise over the news that Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni had resigned Wednesday.

“I thought he worked his butt off after coming to New York from Phoenix,” Johnson said. “Obviously he had two years where he took over a pretty decimated situation and got it back on track last year. And of course they had some ups and downs this year, that’s part of it. But I didn’t expect that to happen. He’s a good man, and any time somebody from the coaching fraternity resigns or gets fired, it affects all of us.”

D’Antoni was never able to incorporate superstar Carmelo Anthony into his pick-and-roll offense. In fact, the Knicks coach never even wanted Anthony. But owner James Dolan did.

“The key is being consistent and for ownership to have your back,” Johnson said when asked what the key is to dealing with superstars.

• In case you weren’t aware, the NBA trade deadline is Thursday.

A reporter asked Johnson about some guy named Dwight Howard. The Nets coach laughed and said he couldn’t talk about another team’s player. The league won’t allow it.

Nets point guard Deron Williams, who will miss his third straight game with a strained right calf, was asked about the deadline. He also wouldn’t comment, but did say he loves New York.

Johnson was asked if he speaks with GM Billy King about trades and such. He laughed for a while, then said this: “I’m kinda the guy where you get on the 10-yard line or the 5-yard line then call me. Let’s put it like that.” More laughter.

• Johnson said small forward Gerald Green could move into the starting lineup if he keeps up his production.

“That’s something we may want to do,” Johnson said.

Green is averaging 9.1 points and 3.1 rebounds. The Nets must make a decision if they’re going to keep him for the rest of the season or let him go by March 18.

“I’m expecting him to get 12 points [Wednesday],” Johnson said.

The depleted Nets worked Green out before signing him on Feb. 27.

“I told him if I’m going to give up an hour or two of my All-Star weekend to come out and work you out and interview you, you better be the real deal,” Johnson joked.

Johnson said Green has matured as a player and spoke with good friend Doc Rivers before signing him.

Rookie MarShon Brooks and Green spend a lot of time together off the court -- and have had good chemistry with one another.

“I don’t know if that’s good,” Johnson joked.

• Johnson said the Nets will play the same starting five. With D-Will out of the lineup, he continues to harp about how Jordan Farmar and Sundiata Gaines need to step it up defensively.

He wants them to be more aggressive, and plans on mixing up the defense with traps, zones and different pick-and-roll coverages.

• According to NBA.com, Orlando has given D-12 a deadline to submit his “opt-in” paperwork. Otherwise, they’re going to deal him.