P.J. Carlesimo relies on experience in transition

Interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo of the Brooklyn

Interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo of the Brooklyn Nets goes over a play against the Charlotte Bobcats with Deron Williams. (Dec. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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P.J. Carlesimo enjoys coaching.

That doesn't necessarily mean he's comfortable with the circumstances that led to his current situation. With Avery Johnson fired Thursday, Carlesimo has inherited the tag of Nets interim coach and now is sitting in the hot seat for who knows how long.

He knows all about the league's perils, though. For the better part of these last two decades, Carlesimo, 63, has toiled in the NBA. He's had three stints as a head coach -- Portland (1994-97), Golden State (1997-99) and Seattle / Oklahoma City (2007-08) -- getting fired from each.

Carlesimo spent 2002-07 as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, for whom Johnson played during the better part of 10 seasons.

There's something about coaching that draws him to the difficult profession, one in which he knows it's going to be only a matter of time before he's moving on to the next job and locale.

"The dynamic of working with a different group each year," Carlesimo said, "seeing how that group comes together. There's so many good aspects to it. The camaraderie. That journey, if you will, that everybody starts Oct. 1. You hope you can compete for a championship at whatever level you are at, and how the thing comes together over the course of the year [and] how you deal with adversity."

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The Nets have been trying to master the latter lately, and Carlesimo doesn't have much time to settle in. Because of the lack of practice time thanks to their upcoming schedule, he won't be able to do much tweaking of the Nets' schemes for at least another week. Saturday night's 103-100 victory over the Cavaliers was the second of a back-to-back for the Nets, and they're embarking on a stretch in which they'll play four times in six nights, including road games in San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

Carlesimo's familiarity with the Nets' current schemes, which he had a hand in installing, should help make this transition easier for the players.

"I think so," forward Gerald Wallace said. "Knowing that we don't have to start all over with our offense and our defense, things are pretty much the same. The principles are pretty much the same. He's just enforcing more of what we need to do as individuals to buy into the team concept and play together."

Carlesimo said the transition has been eased greatly by the coaching staff: Popeye Jones, Mario Elie, Doug Overton and Patrick Spurgin.

"I felt anxious in the beginning, but -- not blowing smoke -- the other assistants really helped in terms of keeping us organized," Carlesimo said of the Nets' 97-81 victory over the Bobcats on Friday. "Popeye and Mario and Patrick and Dougie really did a good job in terms of making sure I didn't forget when to substitute, change defenses and matchups, things like that. It's something we normally do anyhow.

"Avery would have it under control, but we still say, 'Hey, somebody's got two fouls -- get him out.' Whatever it is, they're in your ear. The assistants were very good, so I didn't have to forget something and say, 'Oh, we should have done this, we should have done that.' They were right there with suggestions, which was really important."

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