Why would Avery Johnson pick Nets (other than money)?

averyI don’t want to assume that Avery Johnson is the Hawks’ No. 1 choice to become their next coach because: 1) Nobody has said that publicly; 2) There’s a chance that even if Johnson is the No. 1 choice of one owner or general manager Rick Sund, he might not be the No. 1 choice of another owner (or Sund).

For all we know, there might be four votes — Sund, Michael Gearon Jr., Bruce Levenson and Steve Belkin (via speaker phone from a remote location) — and each will push for somebody else: Dwane Casey, Larry Drew, Mark Jackson and Johnson.

In this scenario, I believe Atlanta Spirit LLC rules stipulate that the 10th caller to a season-ticket hotline breaks the tie.

But here’s my question: Why would Johnson take the New Jersey Nets’ job over the Hawks’

Avery Johnson (top) and Dwane Casey are two of the four candidates to be the Hawks' head coach.

Avery Johnson (top) and Dwane Casey are two of the four candidates to be the Hawks' head coach.

job, if it should come to that?

Johnson’s representatives were in the New York-New Jersey area on Monday and Tuesday. That at least gives the impression that the two sides were working toward a deal. (Although maybe it means something that they left town without a contract.)

If this comes down to money, New Jersey wins. The Nets are owned by a self-made Russian billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov, who has left the impression that he’ll pay what it takes to get anybody.

I don’t get the impression Hawks owners will break the bank to get Johnson. Doc Rivers probably is the only coach they would punch a hole through the salary ceiling to get. That’s understandable. But Rivers probably isn’t coming here this summer. He’ll either return to Boston or take time off.

Back to Johnson: Why would a guy who has coached in the NBA finals, and currently has a comfy broadcasting gig, want to take over the Nets?

Does he really want a rebuilding project . . . in New Jersey?

They Nets have missed the playoffs the last three years. They went 12-70 last year. They started the season 3-40.

They have two 7-foot towers (Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian) and a point guard (Devin Harris) who has had some success. But this remains a long-term project. And the Nets will always be in the shadow of the Knicks (regardless of how bad the Knicks are).

No matter how you might feel about the roster and the impending free agency of Joe Johnson, the Hawks are far closer to winning something significant than New Jersey.

Their potential starting lineup next season could include Johnson, Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague. They are not bumping up against the salary cap. If Johnson doesn’t sign, there could be a sign-and-trade coming.

The Hawks have made the playoff three straight years and dropping from postseason contention isn’t realistic. It will be a while before Jersey gets there.

So other than money, what do the Nets have to offer? We know it’s not quality of living.

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85 comments Add your comment

Jody

June 9th, 2010
9:32 am

Totally agree Jeff.

TXDawg

June 9th, 2010
9:35 am

2nd, 3rd, 4th, top 5!!
Really though…..one owner versus ten owners??

TXDawg

June 9th, 2010
9:38 am

Looks like I’m first runner up (smile).

Honestly Jeff, Avery isn’t the kind of guy to just take the money. He has an internal drive and competiveness that goes back as far as I can remember him from his days at Southern. Money might be part of the equation but he has to believe that he’ll have an opportunity to win, wherever he winds up.

ormewood

June 9th, 2010
9:46 am

The Nets have some good young talent in Lopez and Harris. They’re about to add a stud from the draft. They will be moving into a new arena in Brooklyn soon. They have the money to attract some top free agents. Their new owner is uber-wealthy. That about covers it.

JC

June 9th, 2010
9:50 am

Jeff, the Nets job provides more than just a fat contract for Avery, the Russian also provides willingness to spend on free-agents and provide the player personnel required to win, which Avery requested say in while interviewing with the Hornets. Based on what he was used to in Dallas, I’d say Avery would prefer a spend-anything owner to the closed purse-strings of ASG.

And let’s not forget about the #3 draft pick the Nets get this year. It’s not the 2003 draft, but a shot at Favors, Turner or Cousins would be an intriguing variable, to say the least.

Delbert D.

June 9th, 2010
9:52 am

Jeff, please write your next article about either college football or Nancy Pelosi. We need something that we can stomp our feet and pound the table about.

Ted M

June 9th, 2010
9:52 am

The nets also have Favors and likely a high pick next year. The rebuilding process could be quite short with that guys money. And if you think you’re good whats 2 years?

RJ

June 9th, 2010
9:59 am

“Honestly Jeff, Avery isn’t the kind of guy to just take the money. He has an internal drive and competiveness that goes back as far as I can remember him from his days at Southern. Money might be part of the equation but he has to believe that he’ll have an opportunity to win, wherever he winds up.”

Oh you poor naive chump.

Sonny Clusters

June 9th, 2010
10:00 am

Proximity to the Dairy Queen is much better here than in New Jersey.

Ted M

June 9th, 2010
10:02 am

Woodson had to go his players simply were not responding, still its amazing a coach who improves his teams record six years in a row got fired. Anyway I have a feeling the Hawks are going to take a step back next year. They have some expensive baggage on their roster. The Nets future my very well be brighter.

Tucker T

June 9th, 2010
10:04 am

Money is a big part of it but maybe Johnson thinks that Drago will spend a lot to fill out the roster. It certainly won’t happen next season, unless they get LaBron, but it could have in 2-3 years. Strong ownership with deep pockets would be appealing. The Hawks ownership is kind of a joke.

TONE

June 9th, 2010
10:05 am

I think they should break the tied vote by meeting at one of the finer eating establishments and playing a spirited game of paper football in one of the cleaner booths winner gets to pick the coach.
they better make the right choice because Doc will be available next year so a bad season and the masses will be all over the owners. (not that they would care)

JC

June 9th, 2010
10:05 am

Also, if you look at their player salaries, the Nets have a VERY favorable cap situation right now. They probably won’t have a shot at the Big 4 (Bron, Wade, JJ, Bosh), but they might be able to add a nice piece or two from free agency, or keep their cap space to compete in the ‘Melo sweepstakes next year:

http://hoopshype.com/salaries/new_jersey.htm

Not trying to rain on anyone’s Avery parade – I’d love him to come to ATL. But despite their abysmal record from last year, the Nets situation is a promising one. And Avery excels at taking abysmal to passable – after all, he won coach of the year for it.

Taylor Hanson

June 9th, 2010
10:05 am

Here’s a good topic:
What impact would conference expansion have on college basketball?

I think the tourney could be quite different. With less conferences there would be more at large teams going.

Also, are we looking at week long conference tourneys if the conferences reach 20+ teams?

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
10:32 am

Ormewood – Sounds good in theory. Still not convinced its a better job than the Hawks.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
10:34 am

JC — We’re not really sure what Avery Johnson requested in New Orleans (or anywhere) when it comes to personnel. We know what’s been reported second-hand but we never heard him say that. In fact, somebody with the Hawks told me that aspect of negotiations (at least with them) has been overstated.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
10:35 am

Delbert D — College football, Nancy Pelosi, Rush Limbaugh, race, sex, Bobby Cox and Michael Vick — all in one blog. Let’s say a week from Tuesday.

hawkville

June 9th, 2010
10:36 am

The three u mention for Atlanta and the three u mention for New Jersey, not that far apart. Who is going to hit a jumper. When did Teague become the potential starter.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
10:36 am

Sonny Clusters — Checkmate!

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
10:37 am

Ted M — You’re assuming a lot goes wrong here and a lot goes right there. Two big assumptions, that’s all I’m saying.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
10:40 am

Taylor Hanson — “I think the tourney could be quite different. With less conferences there would be more at large teams going.”

Nope. Ratio will be the same. We’ll just go from conferences sending 3-to-6 teams to sending 6-to-9.

Ted Striker

June 9th, 2010
10:42 am

I’m just glad that Tony Soprano isn’t a basketball fan. Otherwise, Johnson would be made an offer he can’t refuse.

Astro Joe

June 9th, 2010
10:50 am

If you believe that a center and PG are the building blocks to sustained success in the NBA, the Nets can reasonably suggest they have those areas covered. Want an owner whose calls are answered by any player in the league? I give you Jay-Z. Want another owner who has cash coming out of his ears? Nets have that too. Somehow I don’t envision Rudy Gay getting giddy when Bruce Levinson dials his number, not quite the same thrill as when Jay-Z calls and Beyonce can be heard bouncing in the background.

Throw in the fact that Avery has spoken to the Hawks 3 times (reportedly) and still hasn’t received a straight answer and why would he rush to become an ASG employee? What happened the last time the ASG tried to sign a FA for more than $3M? A law-suit broke out (Speedy signing). Think that will happen with the Nets?

Throw in a top 3 draft pick along with cap room to sign an elite FA and you have a legit reason to consider the Nets job as more attractive (over a 3-5 year period) than the Hawks gig.

JC

June 9th, 2010
10:50 am

Striker, in terms of being mobbed-up, Prokhorov makes Tony Soprano look like Gomer Pyle.

ant banks

June 9th, 2010
10:54 am

JEFF,

the new jersey job will actually be a BETTER sell for avery. hear me out: 1.there will be no expectation, this year to win much, so there is no pressure. 2.devin harris, 2 7-footers, and possibly wall from kentucky and maybe addin’ joe johnson. the nets will be 15 games better than they were last year. takin’ the atlanta job would be pressure, year one.

Astro Joe

June 9th, 2010
11:01 am

Jeff, reportedly, Avery has spoken to the Hawks on 3 separate occasions without getting resolution to the vacancy. That alone would be reason to run away from the Hawks… they can’t make a decision. Throw in the fact that the last time the ASG tried to sign a free agent for more than $3M (Speedy) a lawsuit broke out. I doubt the same would happen with the Nets. If you believe that having a top 10 center and top 10 PG is the key to sustained success in the league, the Nets could suggest they have those areas covered. Throw in a top 3 draft pick, the cap space to sign a max free agent and you have the recipe for success.

How about the owners? Do you think players get the same thrill when Levinson calls as they do when Jay-Z is on the line with Beyonce bouncing in the background? The new Russian owner supposedly has money to burn, it’s doubtful that he will hire marginal drum corp to introduce his team at home games. The question the Newark Star Ledger should be asking is why should Avery even consider the Hawks gig.

The Dogfighter Returns

June 9th, 2010
11:01 am

Because they play in the NY Metro area. The biggest media capital. There will be no pressure whatsoever, he knows the team will be better than last year.

Plus they actually have a center.

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Observation

June 9th, 2010
11:05 am

Jeff, what did you do with Bradley? Did you finally have him committed?

Taylor Hanson

June 9th, 2010
11:08 am

Thanks for anwering my off-topic. You’re the best in the biz Shultzie.

Mmmm…..Bop.

ELVISINTHEHOUSE.

June 9th, 2010
11:08 am

Hey jeff,don’t forget rapistburger.oh i forgot,yall wouldn’t dare run his name in the ground like AJC did vick.

Reality

June 9th, 2010
11:09 am

The NBA??

Wake me up when you get to something relevant like football….

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

cdog

June 9th, 2010
11:09 am

ITS JUST A MATTER OF TIME.IF AVERY JOHNSON IS NOT HIRED,THE HAWKS WILL BE BACK TO THEIR LOSING WAYS.I TOLD YOU, ANYTHING RICK SUND HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT WILL TURN INTO NO GOOD.WATCH AND SEE.WHO IS HE TRYING TO IMPRESS?WHEN SOMEONE TAKES AS LONG AS HE HAS,IT TELLS YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING.WELL, THE SUND BLUNDERS IS IN FULL EFFECT.UNTIL SUND IS NO LONGER ASSOCIATED WITH THE HAWKS THEY WILL BE LOSERS

ryan

June 9th, 2010
11:09 am

It looks like Casey going to be the coach for the Hawks the Spirit group does not have any money Thrashers are for sale . They will be a lottery team again I can’t take it anymore with the Spirit Group.

The Facts

June 9th, 2010
11:12 am

Elvis, you are a complete and total moron, which is evident by the fact that you are still a Vick sycophant. However, if you were actually paying attention, and could read some what, you would of noticed that that huge troglodyte Rothlesberger was hammered here by most people, including shultz. It must be tough going through life with your head crammed up your posterior.

Taylor Hanson

June 9th, 2010
11:13 am

Elvis….did you ever think that maybe it’s because Vick was a local celebrity and Rapistburger is not very relevant in Atlanta?

Dr. Warren

June 9th, 2010
11:14 am

Why don’t they just hire Smitty? Deion Sanders electrified the city playing two sports—why not let a coach try it, too? He’d be fairly cheap, and civic-minded Blank wouldn’t mind. And if he can work Wooden’s Pyramid of Success into his spiels, the Hawks just might make it to the 3rd round.

Taylor Hanson

June 9th, 2010
11:16 am

Jack Ramsey is available.

JSS

June 9th, 2010
11:37 am

Wasn’t this blog about Avery Johnson?

KevinM

June 9th, 2010
11:39 am

Jeff, any chance our army of owners whoever is in charge there can wrangle that #3 pick from the Nets and get us a big man? That has to happen prior to FA though.
We have plenty to offer to a very young team who isn’t close to competing next year unless LeFranchise comes to Brooklyn to party with Jayzee?
I would hope AJ would come here to at least start with an experienced lineup, JJ or no JJ.
We could in fact let a first time HC come in here, totally flub it up and go after Doc in a year or 2 when he is ready to return. We might know that part of all this sooner than any of the other factors.

Would anyone be surprised to see Mark Jackson or Larry Drew get hired? I for one, would not.
This kind of ‘no-hurry-up’ ownership group we have allows other teams to make offers, and whichever don’t get agreed upon, the ASG settles for………kinda makes it hard to believe like Donald Sterling renting the Staples Center that the ASG is in this thing to win the league title.

HawkKingBibby

June 9th, 2010
11:40 am

Hey JS did you hear Peter Vecsey says Larry Drew is the fav for the job and Mark Jackson would have to knock the owners socks off to take the job from Drew. Im with you though, Avery has to see the talent on this roster and think he can get something done with it and a couple added pieces. I live in NJ and even when the Nets went to the finals nobody cared.

JSS

June 9th, 2010
11:41 am

Folks, this will get UGLY quick… Do you really want to go there?

Ryder

June 9th, 2010
11:41 am

All things considered, Avery Johnson would have less pressure to succeed in Atlanta. He would also have a greater wealth of talent at his disposal. Lopez may be 7 feet, but he is no where as talented as Horford. Josh Smith is a breakout star in the making who needs a disciplined coach.

Even without Joe Johnson I do believe this team can get better now, especially with Cleveland on the way down.

RealSquawk

June 9th, 2010
11:46 am

Avery Johnson should not be the next hawks coach because he is just a higher profile Woody. So think all of Woody’s bad decisions mixed with the ability to get players traded at almost will.

JSS

June 9th, 2010
11:48 am

@ Sonny Clusters…
Dude, there are DQ’s all over the Tri-State… They also get a nod for having Carvel’s
http://www.insiderpages.com/store_finder/results/dairy_queen/NewYork/NY
http://www.carvel.com
Still, love you man, your wit grew on me… You survived Frenchy going to the City and the beard too!

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
11:48 am

Ant Banks — Yes, there is more pressure in Atlanta from day one. But if somebody doesn’t want the job for that reason, I don’t want him anyway.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
11:49 am

Astro Joe — Atlanta’s got celebs to compete with Jay-Z. You might have me with Beyonce though.

JSS

June 9th, 2010
11:50 am

@ Jeff Schultz…
Please check your filter, appreciate it…

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
11:50 am

Elvis — There’s an old saying: “Better to have people think you’re a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Think about it, chum.

Jeff Schultz

June 9th, 2010
11:51 am

JSS — Thank you.