Report: Nets to interview Johnson

Updated: May 30, 2010, 11:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The New Jersey Nets are ready to regroup after losing out on the first pick and go after a coach. That process apparently starts with Avery Johnson.

The former Mavericks coach will meet with Nets president Rod Thorn on Saturday, the Star-Ledger reported on Friday night.

He might be the first one in the door simply because Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau is busy with the playoffs. Sources told the newspaper that Thibodeau wants to speak to the Nets, even though sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that he has been offered a contract by the Hornets. And Thorn reportedly wants Thibodeau to be one of the four to six candidates he speaks to about taking over a team that posted a franchise-low 12 wins and set a league record with 18 straight losses to open the season.

Thorn said Thursday that his only concern is getting the right coach. He has no timetable for hiring someone, which is an indication that he might be willing to wait until after the first few weeks of free agency have passed in July.

The Nets have more than $23 million to spend on the free agent market that might include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire. They had the best statistical chance to win the first pick in this year's NBA draft but slid to third.

"Hopefully, we'll recognize when the right guy comes through," Thorn said of the coaching candidates. "The process is getting going and we'll see what happens."

An analyst for ESPN, Johnson had a 194-70 record with the Mavericks, guiding them to the NBA Finals in 2006. Dallas owner Mark Cuban still owes him another year on his contract, so it is uncertain whether Johnson wants to coach next season.

Recently fired Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown is also on Thorn's short list.

The Nets had three coaches this past season. Lawrence Frank, who coached the team for five full seasons and parts of two others, was fired after New Jersey lost its first 16 games.

Assistant coach Tom Barrise took over for the next two games before then general manager Kiki Vandeweghe become the interim coach for the rest of the season.

New Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced last week that Vandeweghe's contract as GM was not being renewed.

Thorn has since assumed the duties of both president and general manager.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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