The Brooklyn Nets are 5-1 since P.J. Carlesimo replaced Avery Johnson. Apparently Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has loved what he’s seen, because in the following interview Carlesimo explains how he was told he will remain as the Nets head coach for the remainder of the season. The pursuit of Phil Jackson has been put on hold for Brooklyn. Here are Carlesimo’s thoughts on trying to right the ship for the Nets so far. P.J. Carlesimo joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss being hired as the Brooklyn Nets’ new head coach, the Nets’ inconsistent offense under Deron William and Joe Johnson, working for Mikhail Prokhorov and his vision for the Nets moving forward this season.
How did it go from you being the interim coach to being the official head coach now?
“It was really a lunch to talk about the team. It really was not bad at all. We talked about a lot of the players and basically he and Billy King, it was more of just get acquainted. What’s your impressions of the team? And let’s go forward. It really didn’t feel like that at all. It didn’t feel like an interview or audition. It felt a lot more like just getting to know the person a little bit better and him kind of asking what the reactions were and going from there. I just think it’s that kind of situation. It’s a situation I didn’t want to happen ’cause Avery was the guy who brought me back here and I love him. I thought he was doing a hell of a job, but it is what it is. It’s a fluid situation, Mike. It’s like our last two games. We are at the bottom of the pile in San Antonio. We played very poorly and then you couldn’t play much better than we did [against Oklahoma City]. That’s the NBA.”
How about the offense you have to get out of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson?
“Well, other people set up their defense for those guys. That’s a big part of the problem. There’s still a learning process going on for both of them. In one sense we love that — it’s an excellent back court. It’s one of the top back courts in the NBA,; however, when you have two guys that are high-powered scorers and used to being the center of their teams, there’s an adjustment. Throwing Brook Lopez in the mix and it’s is a good problem … but still it was going to take us a little while. I think we are still adjusting. We are still learning, as coaches and they as players, what works for them, and we are still trying to figure out rotations, like as much as we want them in the game, we are also not sure how to break it up when it’s time to sub.
We are still looking at a lot of different combinations and I think that, and the fact that people were loading up on the both of them, that that’s the biggest adjustment. Of all the things you worry about and try to address, how Joe is playing or how is Deron playing is at the bottom of my list, honestly. As important as they are to what we are doing, I don’t have to waste a lot time wondering if Deron Williams is going to be Deron Williams or Joe Johnson is going to be Joe Johnson. I am confident they are going to get it done. Everybody forgets we were 11-4 in November and there were reasons. We’ve had a lot more back-to-backs in December. We had a much tougher December schedule. … In December, the record is poorer than we think we are. We are trying to right the ship now and trying to achieve some consistency. We are trying to make January more like November than December.”
What can you tell us about working for Mikhail Prokhorov?
“It’s going to come across as chamber of commerce, but he’s the perfect NBA owner for a coach. He wants to win. He makes no bones about it. He’s willing to back it up financially. He knows the game well, but he lets Billy King do his job. He lets the coach do his job, but you are going to be held accountable and it’s a no-excuse situation. Everybody and all the owners in the league want to win. Most of them, or a lot of them, either mentally day-to-day or will put the money up. He does either. Is he hands on and let Billy King know what he thinks? Of course he does, but he lets Billy do his job. He lets the coach do his job. Unfortunately, you are going to be held accountable right away [in the case of Avery Johnson’s firing]. As a coach, you would love to have a no-excuse guy.”
What is your goal short term with this team? What do you want the team to do in the next 10-15 games?
“Consistency. The first thing we were faced with was we had six games in nine days. … We only had a chance to practice one time. We get to take a deep breath. [This] week we’ll have a couple of practices where we can tweak a few things and just make subtle changes, nothing big — make some subtle changes, change the rotation a little bit and we just have to establish that we can win games consistently, and I think that’s not easy going through the transition, but be competitive every night and win consistently. If we do that and hopefully be established and put the injuries behind us right now with Jerry Stackhouse and C.J. Watson not being able to play last night, just get the front-line guys where they are healthy and we can decide who’s in our starting lineup and where we are going to substitute. We haven’t quite settled on that yet.”