Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard Deron Williams recently complained about head coach Avery Johnson’s offense, and team CEO Brett Yormark took to Twitter after an embarrassing loss to the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day.
After a $350-million summer spending spree that included the acquisition of Joe Johnson and the re-signing of Williams, the Nets have high expectations this season and being in the middle of the pack and playing .500 ball is simply not going to cut it. So, with the team in a terrible losing slump and losers of 10 of its last 13 games, the Nets fired Johnson — one month after he was named NBA Coach of the Month for November when the Nets started 11-4.
Nets GM Billy King said the change was not made because Williams was unhappy, and he added the point guard himself has to play better.
Johnson also stood by Williams.
”From Day One, I always had a really good relationship with him. I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to hang this on Deron,” Johnson told The Associated Press. ”We were just going through a bad streak, a bad spell. It’s not time for me to be down on one player. That would be the easy way.”
This is not the first time Williams has been linked to a coach’s firing. Two years ago, Williams reportedly clashed with longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and some folks in Utah are convinced that Sloan retired because of his petulant point guard. The whole fiasco in Utah revealed what many were already suspecting: Deron Williams is a coach killer.
But Williams told the New York Daily News that he was “surprised” when he heard Johnson was let go, and knew that the Sloan dilemma would eventually resurface.
“We’ve never had an argument, we’ve never had a fight, any disagreements, anything,” Williams told the Daily News about his relationship with Johnson. “So, I think it was more kind of what happened in Utah, people still saying I got Coach Sloan fired even though he resigned and that’s going to stick with me for a while.”
Williams may not be directly responsible for Johnson’s firing, but he certainly could have saved his coach’s job by playing better and earning his massive contract. Williams is averaging only 16.6 points per game (five less than what he averaged last season and way low for a star player) and is shooting just 39% from the field — the lowest in his eight-year NBA career. He’s also misfiring from 3-point range, making just 29%.
If Williams continues to struggle, it won’t matter who takes over the Nets coaching gig.