Carlesimo as Nets coach is bittersweet
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
The next game arrives. Time for the next practice. There’s a flight to catch, a hotel to check in to, a hotel to check out of, a game plan to assemble, a player to motivate, a team to rescue.
A coach is fired, and the interim coach moves forward. But the absence of the ex-coach lingers, especially for the guy who moved over one seat on the bench, knowing the only reason he’s in this position is because someone lost a job.
“It’s a very uneasy feeling,” Brooklyn Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said, just a week into the job since replacing Avery Johnson who was fired on Dec. 27 after the Nets’ disappointing 14-14 start.
“It’s a job that in one sense is a great opportunity and it’s such a privilege. There are only 30 jobs in this league. It’s such a privilege to be one of those 30 guys, and yet at the same time, with the circumstances, the way they happened, it’s something you just don’t feel good about.”
The NBA moves on, and Carlesimo understands he can’t dwell on it.
“You don’t think about it 24/7, but you think about it,” he said.
A particularly poignant moment struck Carlesimo, who joined the Nets staff at the start of the 2011-12 season, last week when the Nets played at the San Antonio Spurs – where Johnson played and Carlesimo spent five seasons as an assistant coach, though Johnson and Carlesimo were not with San Antonio at the same time.
“Especially going back to San Antonio, you think about it,” Carlesimo said. “Something happens, and you go, ‘Man.’ You still wish that Avery were here. But again, this league you deal with it.”
The topic agitated Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who replaced Flip Saunders early last season. “It’s not a good situation whenever anything like that happens,” Wittman said.
So Carlesimo deals, knowing this is also an opportunity for him – to either become the Nets’ permanent coach or earn the attention of another team and with the potential of a head coaching job elsewhere.
Nets general manager Billy King, who is the final year of his … [For more on P.J. Carlesimo as Nets coach bittersweet situation, click here.]