According to Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com, the Nets have reportedly not contacted Phil Jackson with regard to the coaching vacancy they created when they fired Avery Johnson:
Despite high-profile names like Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy being tossed around, Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King says he has “not contacted anybody” about becoming the permanent replacement for recently fired head coach Avery Johnson.
King told Ian O’Connor during an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM on Sunday morning that the team “supports” interim coach P.J. Carlesimo and will “re-evaluate” things moving forward, while deflecting questions about Jackson by repeatedly saying “P.J.’s our coach.”
“We’ve put our support behind (P.J.) and then we’ll look at things and evaluate it later,” King said. “I know people have been throwing lists together and things like that, but we have not contacted anybody. … We’ve made the move and now we’re going to let P.J. coach.”
At this point, all we can do is speculate about what this might mean—so let’s get going.
Though Brooklyn could be genuine in their support of P.J. Carlesimo, I see this being more of ploy.
Jackson could have already refused the Nets, and the organization could subsequently be looking to save face by reiterating the support they have in their interim coach. The 11-time coaching champion could have also said he needed more time or would consider taking the job over the offseason, in which case Brooklyn could be using Carlesimo as a mere buffer for the rest of the season.
Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Jeff Van Gundy either. He said (per Sam Amick of USA Today) that he would never interview for a coaching position unless it was vacant—interim coaches included. Assuming Jackson already returned the Nets down, they could instead be using Carlesimo as a stop gap until the end of the season, in which case they would cut him loose and then chase Van Gundy.
Or (which I believe less likely) Brooklyn could merely be allowing Carlesimo the opportunity to audition for the position without having any other preferences in mind.
Either way, it’s unlikely the Nets are being entirely truthful about their search, or lack thereof. If they truly believed that Carlesimo was the man for the job, the post would be his. Instead, they’re waiting. While that gives him an opportunity to prove himself, it also gives the team the opportunity to keep Van Gundy in the equation come this offseason or perhaps convince Jackson of the value of this team by showcasing a few wins.
Whatever the true meaning behind Brooklyn’s latest sentiments, though, just understand it’s a ploy; understand that there is a blueprint being constructed that doesn’t necessarily involve Carlesimo.
Understand that until someone agrees to coach the Nets on a permanent basis, nothing the organization tells means anything.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.