Avery Johnson fired

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Posted: April 30, 2008

Avery Johnson was dismissed as coach of the Dallas Mavericks the day after a disappointing season ended with a first-round playoff exit in New Orleans. Incredible highs and heartbreaking lows marked the tenure of Johnson, who leaves as the most successful coach in franchise history by many measures.

Johnson became the eighth coach in team history on March 19, 2005 and posted a record of 194-70 (.735) during the regular season. He led the Mavs to the playoffs four consecutive years, including a trip to the 2006 NBA Finals. His postseason record of 23-24 (.489) included 12 losses in the last 15 games.

“You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” Johnson said Tuesday night after the 99-94 loss to the Hornets that ended the series. “That is called life. There are a lot of highs and lows in coaching, but the highs outweigh the lows. The rewards outweigh anything.

“I’ve been through much worse. There are a lot of people in bad shape and I am not one of them.”

The search for the ninth coach in club history begins immediately. The next coach takes over a team that could be significantly different from the squad that suffered through an inconsistent 51-31 regular season that earned the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

The 15-man roster features eight potential free agents. Dirk Nowitzki remains the focal point, but the cast of characters surrounding the 2006-07 MVP is expected to undergo major change. Jason Kidd, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Erick Dampier, Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass are under contract, though Kidd can option out. Johnson’s staff – Paul Westphal, Joe Prunty and Mario Elie – currently remains under contract through next season.

In his first full season as head coach (2005-06), Johnson guided the Mavericks to 60 wins and their first appearance in the NBA Finals. He became the fastest coach to reach 50 wins (62 games), coached the Western Conference All-Star team and was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year.

Johnson led Dallas to a franchise-record 67 wins, the NBA’s best record, the following season. The mark was also the sixth best in league history. Following a 10-0 month of February, Johnson garnered Western Conference Coach of the Month honors, an award he won three times in his career.

This past season, Johnson became the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 150 wins with a victory over Memphis on November 17, 2007. He accomplished that feat in just 191 games.

“It is never easy to relieve a coach of his duties, especially one of Avery’s caliber,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He is a talented coach and I want to thank him for his efforts over the last four years and what he has done for this franchise. We wish him well in the future.”

The Mavs were the first head-coaching opportunity for Johnson, who played 16 years in the NBA before retiring before the 2004-05 season. He joined the staff of former coach Don Nelson and took the coaching reins 64 games into his first season on the bench.

“I would like to thank Avery for his valuable contributions to the Mavericks organization,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “Over the past four years, he has been an integral part of our team’s success. We wish AJ nothing but the very best in his future endeavors.”