Avery Johnson agrees to coach Nets

(AP) - Avery Johnson says he has agreed tobecome the coach of the New Jersey Nets, the NBA's worst team.

In a text message to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Johnsonsaid he thinks the Nets will announce the deal Thursday.

Nets president and general manager Rod Thorn did not immediatelyrespond when asked to comment on Johnson's text. In an earliere-mail to the AP, he said he "will have something to say"Thursday.

The current ESPN analyst coached Dallas for three-plus seasons,going 194-70 in the regular season and 23-24 in the playoffs. Heguided the Mavs to the NBA finals in 2006, but was fired after afirst-round playoff series loss to New Orleans in 2008.

Johnson will take over a team that posted a league worst 12-72record and set a league-record opening the season with 18 straightlosses.

The miserable start led to the firing of coach Lawrence Frankafter 16 games. Outgoing general manager Kiki Vandeweghe served asthe interim coach for the majority of the franchise's worst seasonand only the fifth 70-loss season in NBA history.

The Nets threatened to break the Philadelphia 76ers' leaguerecord for fewest wins in a season - nine - until a late run gotthem over the hump. The 76ers set the record in 1972-73.

Johnson is a proven winner, and his arrival in New Jersey willreunite him with point guard Devin Harris, who was shipped to NewJersey in the deal that sent Jason Kidd to the Mavericks.

The Nets also have a young talented center in Brook Lopez, twoguards with tons of potential, Terrence Williams and Courtney Lee,and high hopes for Chinese Olympian Yi Jianlian.

New Jersey also has the third pick in this month's draft.

Johnson should also benefit working with new Nets owner MikhailProkhorov. The Russian billionaire has said he will open his walletin free agency, and the Nets have more than $23 million to spend ona talent pool that might include LeBron James.

Johnson, who met with Thorn early in the coaching search,emerged as the leading contender after former Knicks and Rocketscoach Jeff Van Gundy turned down overtures from Thorn and BostonCeltics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau opted to take the ChicagoBulls' head coaching job.

The Nets will be moving to the Prudential Center in Newark forthe next two years before permanently moving to their new arena,the Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 2012.

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