Debate: did P.J. get a fair shot?

P.J. Carlesimo

“OK P.J., now do a Dr. Seuss face.” (AP)

After 54 regular season games and one seven-game playoff series, the Brooklyn Nets will not bring back interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. After a 35-19 regular season record and a few bounces short of the second round, did he get the short end of the stick? Max Weisberg and Justin DeFeo debate.

Max: Here’s how I see P.J.’s impact this season: P.J. Carlesimo took square peg and tried to force it into a round hole. It just doesn’t work. I often imagine him trying so hard to pound it into the hole, that eventually it just breaks and goes in.

Here’s an example of this: Gerald Wallace. A 31% three-point shooter coming into the season, Wallace’s role on this team was often undefined, and Wallace himself had said just that. Wallace on the offensive end was often doing one thing: standing behind the three-point line. When Wallace lost his confidence with his jump shot (who wouldn’t when they’re asked to do something they’re not capable of), it allowed defenses to simply let him roam free on the perimeter. It allowed teams to double-team Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez in their many isolation plays this season. Rarely did Wallace ever get any post-ups (8.6% of his total plays, per mySynergySports) or pick-and-roll plays (2.6%).

This is something Carlesimo could’ve corrected. He may have said that the offense the Nets ran under him was “mostly Avery’s stuff,” but when you see something isn’t working, get creative and fix it.

Justin: There’s no doubt that P.J. Carlesimo has flaws, and could have been more creative with managing the Nets roster and offense. But to address Wallace’s concern about his role on the team, I’d say its bogus.

Gerald Wallace, P.J. Carlesimo

Carlesimo, Wallace. (AP)

Loosely quoting Devin here, but if Wallace could shoot, maybe his role would be clearer. What’s a coach to do with a small forward who is openly admitting his confidence is gone and can’t shoot? Bench him is really the only recourse, but then look Carlesimo’s options to replace Wallace in the lineup: MarShon Brooks, Jerry Stackhouse, Keith Bogans. Talk about flawed.

Look at Wallace’s play during the Bulls series – did his role really change all that much or did he just start making shots?

Focusing on the poor play of someone with an obviously fragile psyche as one of P.J.’s faults is missing the big picture. What about the fact that Carlesimo had to take over an under-achieving team midseason, and managed to coach them to a 35-19 record under his tenure? Carlesimo gets a lot of the blame for the Nets losing, but I think he deserves credit for them winning as well. What say you?

Max: I agree that Carlesimo took over a team that was in a tough position, but here is where the argument dissolves to opinion alone. You can say two things: 1) P.J. did a great job getting the team out of its funk and leading them to a 35-19 record the rest of the way, or 2) you could say that P.J. actually stunted the growth of this Nets team once he took over and that had a coach who was more qualified taken over, the Nets would’ve won more games than they did under P.J.

The talent on this team could have done better than 49 wins. You can make the argument that they weren’t given a power forward — which they weren’t — but as a coach, I believe it is your duty to try every possible avenue in an attempt to succeed. When I look back on the season, I think of all the possible power forwards who the Nets could’ve tried to see if they were able to maintain a starting role.

Did the Nets coaching staff this season give everyone a fair opportunity? Really, there were just two guys who flip-flopped at the starting four spot: Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries. While I do believe that Avery/P.J. were correct in starting Evans over Humphries for the greater portion of the season, I just would’ve liked to see a different look at times. I know Devin advocated for Gerald Wallace to be the team’s starting PF (although he later backed off that notion when thinking about the pounding Wallace’s body might take at the position). In such a dire situation to find a capable PF, Wallace was at least worth a shot.

Then there’s also the case of Mirza Teletovic. If people don’t know, I’m a Mirza fan. Though he didn’t perform as well as anyone would’ve liked this season, had the coaches handled him properly from the start of the season, they could’ve gotten some solid contributions from him. This isn’t 100% on Carlesimo though. Avery is to blame as well. It never seemed that Teletovic was given a fair chance from the start. He only played in four of the team’s first 14 games, mostly in garbage time. For a player who is coming to the U.S. to play basketball here for the first time, confidence is an important issue. When Teletovic was given none of it from the beginning, it really hurt his development, and ultimately led to the Nets losing out on a possible rotation player for this season.

Justin: You hit the nail on the head again, Max. What other options did P.J. have at PF?


  1. No offense Justin, but I can’t take you seriously when you suggest there was a language barrier for Mirza. He speaks better English than a lot of my college-educated friends.

  2. How can anybody think he gave Tele a fair shot? Mirza never knew when he was going in, sometimes weeks would go by without him smelling a minute of playing time. when he finally got some consistent playing for a 6 game stretch there, towards the end he finally started to look comfortable, started making shots, and then was never seen again…

  3. My God, you need to get over this teletobricks obsesssion. he was forced fed minutes & he sucked, plain and simple. move on.

  4. “Did P.J. get a fair shot?”

    At what? He was hired by an idiot to be an assistant. Other than being there when Avery was fired, what bumps him to the front of the line for consideration? Would we ever have made PJ interim head coach in December if he was anything but an assistant here? These questions answer themselves.

    I will say this: he was better than Avery. But then, Reggie Evans was better than Shelden Williams. Doesn’t mean we don’t need a PF.

  5. If you’re ‘forcefed minutes’ that usually implies you’re not being put in a position to succeed, regardless of talent.

    The team was not put together with a clear vision, mostly because of haste after the infamous and ongoing Dwightmare. But finding out what players can and can’t do and adjusting accordingly should have been a priority for both head coaches, but they let the pressure to win affect their decisions. How else would Stackhouse and Bogans get prime minutes over Toko, Tyshawn and even Hump at times? There was zero creativity with the offense which is a shame. We can’t even count the amount of baseline screens for Joe Johnson that didn’t work because the screener and a post player (Lopez or Evans) were clogging the lane, allowing defenders to shade off of their man to guard the passing lane.

    We can count the amount of pick and rolls ran w/ Lopez and DWill, 2 of the top offensive players in the East on one hand. In fact, using Wallace in a pick and roll is something that would have worked.

    Teletovic is another animal. We all anticipated he’d be a spot up shooter, but he’s not (much like Joe Johnson – hard to believe). He requires the ball in his hand. Putting him in position to succeed is a bit harder, especially because of the apparent inability of he and Evans and Hump to properly rotate on defense.

    PJC is not a good coach, period. You’re not making past the 1st round with him as your head coach. His record, regular and post season says as much. So whoever we want to blame for losing in 7 games to a Bulls team that has battled together over 3 years, under a great coach, its just irrelevant. Getting rid of PJC, at worst, is getting rid of dead weight, and at best, allowing the Nets to shop for other, more talented coaches on the open market during an offseason and not midseason.

  6. PJC’s fair chance was beating the Bulls.

    The fact that all the players like him after such a disgraceful defeat is not a plus for PJC nor Net fans.

    Proky and BK are NBA idiots, so I don’t expect (although I still hope for) the hiring of a coach that knows what he is doing, much less be able to handle our diva Deron.