By Anthony Slater – Aslater@opubco.com - @anthonyVslater
Oklahoma City coach P.J. Carlesimo shouts during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City on Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. . BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN
Twenty-eight games into a disappointing 14-14 season, the Brooklyn Nets fired coach Avery Johnson on Thursday afternoon, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports. And the man dubbed to replace him -- at least in the interim -- is a name Thunder fans may recognize. P.J. Carlesimo. He's the guy who pioneered OKC to a 1-12 start in its inaugural season before getting the quick boot out of town. Many around the league believe Carlesimo is just a temporary stop-gap until Brooklyn's free-spending management can identify a high-profile name to lead its cast of expensive but underperforming stars. In the Twitter aftermath, even Phil Jackson's name was thrown out there.
So more than likely, Carlesimo knows and understands his short shelf life in Brooklyn, regardless of how the team performs. But for a positive outlook to help maintain hope, all Carlesimo needs to do is look back on that brief Thunder stint. Immediately after his firing, Carlesimo's lead assistant, Scott Brooks, was named the interim coach in OKC. And you all know how that went. After a rough start to his head coaching career (1-12 in the first 13 games), Brooks helped rapidly turn the Thunder franchise around, culminating in a Finals appearance last June and a new four-year, $16 million contract for Brooks one month later. The similarities between situations begin and end with Carlesimo's involvement. Brooklyn is in a high-spending, win-now stage, whereas OKC had enough time and patience to give Brooks an extended look. But that simple tie-in is interesting. And it makes the next Wednesday's game between the Nets and Thunder in OKC a bit more intriguing. If Carlesimo can make it that far.