P.J. Carlesimo to take things slow

Updated: December 28, 2012, 10:57 PM ET
By Mike Mazzeo | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With the Brooklyn Nets playing a stretch of six games in nine days, interim coach P.J. Carlesimo says the team won't make wholesale changes anytime soon.

"I liked the vast majority of everything we were doing," Carlesimo, formerly an assistant coach with the Nets, said before Friday's 97-81 win against the Charlotte Bobcats at the Barclays Center. "Maybe we're going to simplify a little bit, maybe we're going to tweak some things. There won't be wholesale changes ... virtually none in the short term. We've gotta get through tonight and tomorrow night."

Carlesimo takes over for Avery Johnson, who was fired Thursday after the team started 14-14. The Nets have lost five of six and 10 of their past 13 games.

"Obviously it's the worst way to become a head coach," said Carlesimo, who entered Friday with an NBA career coaching record of 204-296 in the regular season and 3-9 in the playoffs. "It's clearly not an ideal situation, but it's the way of the NBA."

Carlesimo's message to his players? "We need to play hard."

"I thought the mood was very good [at shootaround]," he said. "I thought they tried to (a) move on, and (b) do a good job."

Carlesimo said it would be unreasonable to figure out his rotation and roles until after the Jan. 5 home game against the Sacramento Kings.

He joked, though, that he's coaching in three-hour intervals.

"I think it's a situation where [GM] Billy [King]'s going to tell me at 4:30 if I'm coaching tonight. It's like I'm on three hours on a time, he tells me every three hours if I can coach the next three. You have no choice [but] to deal with it that day. The things that we want to do long term, we're not gonna get to it," Carlesimo said.

"If we play hard with the talent we have, we should be OK," he said.

Asked if Johnson lost the locker room, Carlesimo responded, "I don't. That's all NBA spin.

"You need to win. This league is about winning. When you win, things fall into place. When you don't win, you gotta put fires out. Right now, we're putting fires out."

Asked if it's tough to be coaching on an interim basis, Carlesimo responded, "It's not. It is what it is. It's the NBA."

Point guard Deron Williams reiterated that he was "shocked" when he heard that Johnson had been dismissed.

"I didn't expect it. I was over there riding the bike when Billy came in and told me. It caught me off guard," Williams said. "He was just coach of the month. We did struggle the last 13 games or so, but I felt like we had a great team and a great coach."

Williams also said that he doesn't feel responsible for Johnson's ouster, but wishes he could've played better.

"I never was consulted," Williams said. "Because if they would've asked me, I would've said he needs to be our coach, because he was a big reason why I stayed here.

"Nobody feels worse about the way I've been playing than me. It just hasn't clicked yet. My confidence is gone right now, and I gotta play my way, fight my way out of it."

Would Williams like for Phil Jackson to coach the Nets?

"I haven't really thought about it," he replied. "Right now, P.J. is our coach. Like I said, this caught me off guard."

Power forward Kris Humphries was recently pulled out of the rotation by Johnson.

"I really don't want to talk about the past," Humphries said. "I wish Avery well. He's done a lot for me. I'm thankful for that."

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com

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