May 16, 1997
After starring on the court and showing tremendous promise in his
coaching stint, Dennis Johnson is now trying his hand at the waiting
While being duly impressed with the way Rick Pitino
has quickly established control with the Celtics, DJ, fired last week
with the other assistant coaches in the front office purge, is sitting
tight until some of the upper echelon coaching changes shake out.
think right now everyone's waiting to see what's going to happen with
Phil Jackson and Chuck Daly," said Johnson, who will be a strong
candidate for the Vancouver vacancy among others.
the biggest and hottest names out there. A lot of teams seem to be
after them, and once they decide where they're going to be next year,
then everyone can get down to talking to the rest of the coaches out
"We're talking to some teams now, but I'll just have to see how some things go."
is still hoping to get his head coaching shot next season, but, in the
event that doesn't happen, he'll set his sights on a first-assistant
opportunity. With two years of Celtic pay still due him (a contract that
will be paid out even if he gets another job, giving him the chance to
double dip), DJ can afford to be selective. Still, he doesn't want to
fall out of the coaching loop - and that shouldn't be a problem."
am going to be a head coach in this league," Johnson said. "It may be
next season. It may take a year. It may take two years. But it is going
to happen, and I'm going to be a fine head coach. I'm really confident
of that now."
One might have suspected that Johnson would be a bit hurt by Pitino's
takeover, in light of the fact sources say DJ believed he was told the
Celtic head coaching job was going to be his starting with this past
season. Such is not the case.
As for the
job that could have been his and the alleged agreement, he said, "It
doesn't matter what we think. If something isn't yours, then everything
else is null and void. I really don't even think about that anymore."
What he does think about is how well the Celtics - his Celtics - can do under Pitino.
is great for the Celtics, and that means he's great for me because I'm a
Celtic," DJ said. "I've played here a long time and coached here, and I
want nothing but the best for this team."
Johnson is even understanding about being fired.
all part of basketball," he said. "When a new coach comes in, he has to
want to have his own coaches with him. We're coming off two bad years
here, and one of the things you probably have to do is remove all the
negative things you can. I'm not saying I was a negative thing at all - I
think I did a lot of good things for this team - but you have to try to
make things as new as you can. Rick Pitino has proven he's a winner and a leader. I just know he's doing the right things and I know he's going to win here."