Nets reach contract agreement with Johnson

Avery Johnson has reached agreement on a three-year contract to coach the New Jersey Nets.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Johnson told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s going to require a lot of work. It’s a tough job. I feel I am the guy to do it.”

The Nets had the worst record in the NBA last season, but were recently purchased by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. The Nets, however, have some quality young talent, the third overall pick in this year’s draft and enough money to sign one marquee free agent.

“It doesn’t look good to the eye,” Johnson said of the Nets’ struggles. “But I see talent, potential draft picks and money to spend.”

Johnson, who had also interviewed for the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers openings, was the Dallas Mavericks’ coach until he was fired after the 2007-08 season.

Johnson said he hopes to add Mavericks assistant coach Popeye Jones to his staff, but hasn’t decided on who else will join him. He would like to bring in another former head coach.

Johnson’s hiring leaves three teams with vacancies: the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and the Hawks. The Hawks had interviewed Johnson three times. Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, Hawks assistant Larry Drew and TV broadcaster Mark Jackson remain candidates for the job. Hawks owner Michael Gearon is back in the United States from a recent trip, which could expedite the team’s search.

Marc Spears is an NBA writer for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter.
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Updated Wednesday, Jun 9, 2010