For those of us who have followed or reported on the Association for a while; realize that one can never rule out any scenarios. There have been players, who could not wait to become a Free Agent; to escape the team they feel stuck on; only to return his original squad later in his career, this time singing praise about the franchise. We have witnessed antagonistic relationships between a coach and a player, completely turn around after being reunited. Just like the rest of us, players and coaches sometimes fail to realize how good things truly are, until the circumstances change.
One of the most successful bench bosses in the history of the Association; former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, took many by surprise when he resigned as the club’s head coach in February of 2011. Despite reports and rumors that Sloan was leaving the team because of a deteriorating relationship with his All-Star point guard Deron Williams, the former player insisted that was not the case. Whether his statements were true or false; Williams would find himself a short time later with a new team on the East Coast, as Utah traded their star to the New Jersey Nets for a group of young talented players.
Last week D-Will told reporters that the offense that Sloan ran in Utah, was far more conducive to his game, than the style of play that Nets head coach Avery Johnson was using. Williams, who turned down other offers when he was a Free Agent last summer to stay with the squad when they relocated to Brooklyn this season, gave Sloan a pat on the back, while at the same time kicking Johnson where it hurts.
Williams has yet get on track offensively this season; told members of the media, that the problem might not be with him, but with the offensive game-plan Johnson was running. The guard said “That system was a great system for my style of play. I’m a system player. I love Coach Sloan’s system. I loved the offense there. Is it as good as there? No, there’s just more one-on-one and isos.”
Whether Williams’ statement led to Brooklyn firing Johnson as the squad’s head coach on Thursday is unknown at this point and there is a strong possibility we may never find out what was the final straw that led Johnson, weeks after being named NBA Eastern Conference Coach Of The Month for November, to be out on the street.
Although P.J. Carlesimo is currently the team’s interim head-coach, it is hard to believe that Nets Team Owner Mikhail Prokhorov is not looking to replace him as soon as possible. Carlesimo, has yet to find any success running an NBA squad and the odds are high that he will see the club turning around with him as their leader.
Prokhorov loves the idea of bringing Phil Jackson in as his new bench boss, but Jackson’s agent released a statement Thursday night, that his client has no interest in the position. However, there could be interest by another former coach, who has a winning record and is respected for his teaching ability; that would be Jerry Sloan. The former Utah coach, made it known this past summer, that he would like to get back into the Association for one more ride, before he hangs up his clipboard forever.
There are no questions about the skills that Sloan brings to the table; the only possible fly in the Vaseline would be the relationship between the coach and his starting point guard. Judging by the statement he made last week, Williams might be very receptive about reuniting with his former coach on his new team. Although Sloan is reputedly a tough boss, he could be the perfect guy to kick the Nets in their collective tail and get them to start playing once again as they did in November.
Yes, Sloan will turn 71-years-old in just a couple of months, but there are no indications that his age has decreased his enthusiasm or knowledge of the game. He most likely has forgotten more about the NBA, then most bench bosses will ever learn. Prokhorov, still has plenty of time to salvage this season, if he puts the right man in charge, Sloan could be the perfect guy to take Brooklyn a lot farther than the Nets have gone in a few years.