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Brooklyn Nets Coach P.J. Carlesimo Gone; Replacement Rumors Fly

Image: Brooklyn Nets Coach P.J. Carlesimo Gone; Replacement Rumors Fly

By Michael Mullins   |   Monday, 06 May 2013 11:49 AM

P.J. Carlesimo is gone after going 35-19 as the Brooklyn Nets' interim head coach during the regular season before losing to the Chicago Bulls in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

"It was a difficult decision, and we talked about it, but looking at the long-term and the future of this organization, I felt it was best to look elsewhere to try and find the right fit," general manager Billy King said at the team's practice facility, ESPN reported Sunday. "I thanked him, he did a helluva job for us in a difficult situation."

King also addressed the timing of the firing.

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"By doing it now, there's a lot of jobs open," King added. "Hopefully it gives P.J. a chance and gives us a chance with a lot of candidates out there to explore and that's what we'll do in the next couple weeks."

The 63-year-old Carlesimo had initially been the team's assistant coach at the start of the 2012 season, assuming the reins of Nets head coach in December after his predecessor Avery Johnson was fired having lost 10 of the first 13 games to begin the season.

King added that there was no timetable for the Nets to replace Carlesimo, and disputed multiple reports that claimed Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the self-made Russian multibillionaire, was seeking a high profile head coach to lead the team this year.

Rumors that the Nets were hoping to sign Phil Jackson, an 11-time NBA coaching champion, were not denied by King, who told ESPN he planned to give Jackson a call to gauge his level of interest.

"I'm pretty sure I'll call him," King said. "He's one of the best coaches sitting on the sidelines so you've got to reach out."

Jackson is presently serving as an adviser for the Detroit Pistons in their search for a head coach. It is unknown whether or not he would be interested in returning to the bench.

Other names that have been rumored as possible replacements for Carlesimo include former Orlando Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy, 53; his younger brother former New York Knicks Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy, 51; NBA Hall of Famer and legendary coach Jerry Sloan, 71, and longtime NBA Head Coach Larry Brown, 72, who is presently coaching at Southern Methodist University.

Brown had previously coached under King at the Philadelphia 76ers.

Additionally, Nets' Point Guard Deron Williams already expressed his support for his former coach Sloan, saying on Sunday that he'd "love" to play for him again.

"I won't rule anybody out at this point in time," King added. "We're gonna look everywhere."

Last summer the Nets proved to be one of the league's busiest teams, spending $350 million to upgrade their roster.

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"In one sense, I will say how far we've come from last year, infinitely. But we didn't get as far as we wanted to get," Carlesimo said Saturday night.

"I think we made enormous progress from where we were last year and what these guys accomplished this year, but to me it's a hill," Carlesimo added. "You're always trying to climb up the hill. You go up; you go back. But we thought we could get higher up the hill than we got."

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