P.J. Carlesimo’s wide-ranging interview on WFAN: Playoffs, D-Will, his coaching future, and more

P.J. Carlesimo
P.J. Carlesimo (AP)

Carlesimo also attributed part of D-Will’s statistical bump to Joe Johnson’s injuries, saying D-Will is “still a pass-first guy” but “he had to do more, so he did it.” On the topic of injuries, Carlesimo was optimistic about the Nets health headed into the playoffs. “It’s really the first time all year where Brook — who missed about seven games back in December when we went into that tailspin — Brook’s healthy, Deron’s healthy, Joe is at 90%.”

Asked how important Johnson is to a deep run in the playoffs,  Carlesimo responded “critical. All of our guys, but clearly those three.”  Brook has to “command double teams” and “continue to be the defensive force that he was not in the past but has been all year.” JJ needs to be  a “load” at the two guard that’s “totally comfortable in end game situations, taking and making big shots. And then you’ve got Deron, on top of that, who’s playing as well as any player in the league right now.”

Beningo predicted that Carlesimo would give “typical coach speech” and not answer who he would rather play –Hawks or Bulls — in the first round. Carlesimo responded with…typical coach speak, saying the Nets could beat or lose to either team. “We’re a similar team to Chicago. It would be a beat-it-up, inside, more of a half-court, whichever team’s gonna defend better, whichever team’s going to rebound better (series),” in which “offense will be tough to come by.” Atlanta, on the other hand would be a “mis-match series. They’re quicker, they’re an up-and-down team. You’ve got tough coverages both ways. ”

On the topic of Derrick Rose’s possible return, Carlesimo said the Nets have to assume the former NBA MVP will return for the first time all year in the playoffs but added, “I don’t know if they(the Bulls)  know what’s going to happen with that one.”  Moreover, Carlesimo called Rose a “wildcard,” saying that it is impossible to predict how well he would play after missing the whole season.

Asked if he was concerned about Gerald Wallace and his shooting woes heading into the playoffs: “No. He’s so important to what we do, the way he plays,the way he defends.”  Using the Nets’ defensive struggles without Crash against Rudy Gay and the Raptors on Sunday as an example, Carlesimo said, “Clearly at 2,3 and small 4, he is our best defender.”

On the interim tag and his long-term future with the Nets: “It’s been the same since day one. You can’t try and win any more than we’re trying to win…it’s business as usual.”

Roberts, as thoroughly impressed by Toko Shengelia aka THE TOKOMOTIVE as we were last night, asked if there is any chance the Georgian native gets playing time in the playoffs. “He’s going to be a good player. Whether he’s going to get time, it’s hard to say.” Carlesimo would go on to say that who gets what playing time depends on whether the Nets play the Bulls or Hawks in the first round.

On the Heat, Carlesimo said he knows “they’re lurking” in the second round, but with two potential teams to prep for in the first round, he hasn’t thought much about Miami.

The interview wound down with talk of potential #KiaMVP, Reggie Evans, who Beningo referred to as a “rebounding machine.”   Carlesimo said that Reginald Jamaal was having “arguably one of — if not the best — seasons in his career, and he’s had a pretty good career.” In the understatement of the interview, Carlesimo added that Reggie’s offensive game had “improved dramatically” in the final month of the season.

In closing, Roberts lovingly implored the coach: “Good luck. Get it done.”