Avery Johnson has been fired from the Dallas Mavericks today. For coaches with a minimum of 250 games coached, Johnson owns the NBA’s highest regular season winning percentage at .735. He directed the Mavs to the Western Conference Finals, then the NBA Finals in his first two seasons, then got eliminated in the first round for the past two seasons.
I have it from a friend with direct contacts in the sports media world that the Nuggets brass are giving strong consideration to the suddenly available Avery Johnson.
I think Avery could be a very good fit here in Denver. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, and his energy level and attention to defense may be just the thing that bring the Nuggets out of their 5 year postseason funk. I have a personal problem with his irritating high-pitched voice, but I could very easily overlook that if he is hoisting the O’Brian trophy as the Nuggets skipper.
I also have nothing but respect for George Karl as a coach and as a person. He’s done great things for the Denver Nuggets in the regular season the past 5 years, and the things that he’s gone thru personally (fighting cancer) and as a father (of a son that has battled cancer) make him the kind of guy that I root for no matter what. But, I do think it is time for a change in Denver. Unfortunately that means he might have to lose his job, but I think he could easily still coach elsewhere in the NBA if he wanted to. I do think that he coached one of his best games in the playoffs this past Monday night, by substituting his players more freely for matchups and flow of the game, rather than always having his star players in the line-up when it was their scheduled time to be on the court. He hasn’t been willing to do nearly enough of that, and I don’t blame him for not having the energy and fortitude required to make that kind of stand, but if he doesn’t anymore, he shouldn’t continue to coach the Nuggets.
It will be interesting to see what happens this offseason to the Nuggets coaching staff, just as it will regarding the Denver Nuggets players.