Nets Coaching Search Rumors: Friday

While it's been less than 24 hours since the Nets dismissed Avery Johnson, plenty of rumors are already swirling about how the team will replace its head coach. For now, P.J. Carlesimo has the interim job, but the Nets are reportedly expected to launch a "broad" search that will begin in earnest in the new year. Yesterday, multiple reports suggested that Phil Jackson was the Nets' number one choice, though TNT's David Aldridge said the club didn't necessarily have a top target. In any case, it seems Jackson is very much on Brooklyn's radar. Here are Friday's updates on the NBA's second head coaching search of the season, with any new items added to the top throughout the day:

  • We've heard already tonight that Jeff Van Gundy is unwilling to coach the Nets this season, and now Ric Bucher of 95.7 Game, appearing on the NBC Sports Network, said Phil Jackson won't coach the team this year either, no matter how much money owner Mikhail Prokhorov is prepared to offer. Jackson instead prefers to wait until the end of the season, like Van Gundy. Bucher identified Van Gundy and Mike Dunleavy as the Brooklyn's next favorite choices, but notes that Brooklyn would much prefer Jackson. 
Earlier updates:
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, speaking at a press conference, said, "Now P.J. (Carlesimo) is the head coach and if it becomes necessary, you know who the usual suspects are," as Brian Windhorst of tweets. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News rounds up Prokhorov's open remarks via Sulia.
  • Prokhorov said he backs Carlesimo. and refused to talk about Phil Jackson, Bondy tweets. The owner wouldn't answer questions about other candidates, either, reports Howard Beck of the New York Times (Twitter link). Prokhorov said he liked Johnson, but that the results weren't acceptable, according to Newsday's Rod Boone (Twitter link).
  • Prokhorov said he made the decision to fire Johnson last week, Andy Vasquez of the Bergen Record notes via Twitter.
  • Deron Williams yesterday expressed surprise at Johnson's firing, and had more on his support for his deposed boss today, as Tim Bontemps of the New York Post documents. "Nobody asked me what they should have done with Avery, because if they’d asked me I would have said he needs to be our coach," Williams said.
  • Jeff Van Gundy has interest in coaching the Nets, but he doesn't want to interview as long as interim coach P.J. Carlesimo is on board, as we passed along earlier.
  • While the Nets are expected to take their time with their coaching search, "the Jackson aspect of the equation has the potential to move quickly in one direction or another," says Ken Berger of
  • Nets officials will begin meeting with owner Mikhail Prokhorov over the next couple days to identify candidates and set parameters for the search, according to Berger. No candidates will be contacted until Prokhorov is "formally looped in" to the process.
  • Industry sources believe that Jeff Van Gundy is getting closer to considering a return to coaching, and the Nets are more interested in the former Knicks coach than his brother Stan Van Gundy, according to Berger.
  • Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported today that Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson is a "significant" candidate for the Nets' opening. However, the Nets have yet to contact the Rockets to ask permission to speak to Sampson, tweets Ken Berger of Still, if there's mutual interest between Brooklyn and Sampson, the Rockets won't stand in his way, according to Berger (Twitter link).
  • Appearing on Sirius XM Radio today, Mike Dunleavy, who is from Brooklyn, said that coaching the Nets would be a "dream come true" (Twitter link).
  • In addition to Jackson, the Nets' list of potential targets includes Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy, Nate McMillan, and Jerry Sloan, according to's Chris Broussard. Sloan, who Broussard calls a long shot, declined to comment on the Nets or Deron Williams, but said he'd be opening to coaching in the NBA again (Twitterlinks).
  • A source tells Ken Berger of that the Nets' job would definitely interest Jackson and that it's something he figures to explore. Jackson's rep, Todd Musburger, said yesterday that his client didn't have interest in the position "at this time," but Berger says that statement should be taken quite literally — just because he wasn't interested immediately doesn't mean that Jackson wouldn't be intrigued after doing his due diligence on the franchise.
  • Jackson would prefer to run a franchise from a front-office position and mentor a younger head coach, rather than coach himself, according to Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game (Sulia link), though he doesn't rule out the Zen Master for the position. Bucher also adds Mike Dunleavy's name to the mix as a potential candidate.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today reiterates that the Nets' coaching search is expected to be "wide-ranging."


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