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Nets turn to Carlesimo, but for how long?

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Nets turn to Carlesimo, but for how long?

NEW YORK (AP) Mikhail Prokhorov said Friday he decided to fire Avery Johnson last week, but now wants patience with interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.

A day after dismissing Johnson after just 28 games, Prokhorov said he won't rush into a coaching search, insisting he wants Carlesimo to have a chance to lead the Brooklyn Nets out of their slump.

The Russian billionaire cut short a vacation to British Columbia to travel to New York, where he plans to meet Saturday with Carlesimo. But even with big names such as Phil Jackson potentially available and Prokhorov vowing to spend whatever it takes to build a championship team, he said repeatedly that Carlesimo was the head coach.

Prokhorov did say that if the Nets do look for a new coach, he would be personally involved. He wouldn't discuss anyone by name, even joking he had never heard of Jackson, the 11-time champion coach.

``Now P.J. is the head coach and if it becomes necessary, you know who the usual suspects are,'' Prokhorov told reporters at halftime of the Nets' 97-81 victory over Charlotte.

Johnson led the Nets to an 11-4 start, winning Eastern Conference coach of the month honors for November. But they were just 3-10 in December before Friday, had been blown out of their previous two games, and Prokhorov said the Nets were lacking team spirit.

Still, deciding Johnson would be fired last week means Prokhorov had made up his mind even before the lackluster Christmas performance at home against Boston that preceded a rout Wednesday in Milwaukee.

``I think we have very talented players but they are capable of much more than what we have seen in the recent weeks,'' Prokhorov said. ``I respect Avery and really I wish him well, but sometimes chemistry just isn't right. It happens.

``I think the main question is why we were unable to bounce back and to play like champions,'' he added.

Prokhorov added around $300 million in payroll this summer and has set the expectations high, saying he believes the Nets can reach the Eastern Conference finals. Though it's believed he wouldn't back away from paying top dollar for a coach, he left open the possibility that he may already have the guy he wants.

``P.J. is the head coach and just I think we have a lot of trust in him and really I want him to lead the team,'' Prokhorov said.

The Nets played with energy under Carlesimo after forward Gerald Wallace had criticized the team following Wednesday's 108-93 loss in Milwaukee in Johnson's last game.

``To me, it's kind of frustrating and sad because that's the first time in my career that a coach's been let go in the middle of the season like that,'' Wallace said. ``But I understand the business part of it. We move on and obviously regardless of who's sitting at the head of the chair, we know what we got to do as players.''

On Thursday, general manager Billy King dodged a question about a report that the Nets planned to reach out to Jackson, whom ESPN.com reported was the Nets' top candidate.

``I haven't really thought about it,'' point guard Deron Williams said about the Jackson reports following the Nets' morning shootaround at their practice facility. ``Right now, you know, P.J. is our coach. This caught me off guard, so I have no clue.''

The backcourt duo of Williams and Joe Johnson was supposed to be the team's strength after the Nets revamped the roster this summer as they prepared to move from New Jersey to their new home in Brooklyn.

Joe Johnson, who's averaging 16.9 points and has played well below his expectations, was surprised and shocked to hear of Avery Johnson's dismissal. The guard said the players and not Avery Johnson were the root of the Nets' recent struggles.

``It's been a tale of two different months. One month we play pretty good and the next it's not so good,'' Johnson said.

``Us as players really have to look ourselves in the mirror and really have each other's backs. I don't think we've been having fun for some time,'' he added. ``I don't think it was the coach. I mean, don't get me wrong, I got P.J.'s back 100 percent and I think he's a great coach.''

Joe Johnson was in Atlanta when current New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson was fired as coach of the Hawks at the end of the 2009-10 season and hasn't given any thought to Jackson coaching the Nets.

``It's crazy. It's show and tell. You never know if things are going to work out the way that they're planned,'' Johnson said. ``I don't have a preference. I'm rolling with P.J. right now.''

Carlesimo, who last coached the Oklahoma City Thunder, wasn't too enthused with how he landed his latest job.

``Obviously, it's the worst day to become a head coach. It's clearly not an ideal situation,'' Carlesimo said. ``But it's the way of the NBA.''

Carlesimo - no matter how long he has the job - won't have much time to make changes to a team that has relied on too much 1-on-1 play and whose offensive system was questioned by Williams before he apologized to Avery Johnson.

Practice time will be scarce, but Carlesimo did say that the coaching staff will look to make things simple and that they are ``going to tweak some things.''

``The problem we have, the challenge we have short-term is that we have six games in nine days and we're not going to make wholesale changes for sure,'' Carlesimo said.

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AP freelance writer Adriano Torres in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report.

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Derek Wolfe always wanted to be a Raven — now he gets his chance

Derek Wolfe always wanted to be a Raven — now he gets his chance

New Ravens defensive lineman Derek Wolfe has wanted to be a Raven at three separate times during his career. 

The first time was before he was drafted in 2012 when he thought the Ravens might pick him. The second time was before the trade deadline in the 2019 season, when he debated asking Broncos general manager John Elway for a trade to Baltimore. 

The third time was the charm. After the Ravens’ signing of Michael Brockers fell through, they moved quickly to sign Wolfe to a one-year contract. 

“I'm extremely happy,” Wolfe said. “Everything happens for a reason. When things are supposed to happen, they do, and I always felt like I would fit into that organization really well.”

Wolfe thought he’d missed his chance to be a Raven when the signing of Brocks was announced at the beginning of free agency. After the deal wasn’t completed, though, he and his agent moved quickly to get him to Baltimore. 

Once a deal looked possible with the Ravens, Wolfe’s only focus was to get to Baltimore by any means necessary.

“I said, ‘I really don't care about the money,’” Wolfe said he told his agent. “‘At this point, I just want to get on that team. That's the team I want to get on, I want to be on.’

Wolfe’s contract is worth $3 million guaranteed, though he’s eying a bit longer of a stay in Baltimore.

“I feel like if I can come in there and prove myself, then they'll extend me for a few years, and I could be a part of the organization for more than just one year,” Wolfe said. “I'm just going to stick to the plan and trust the process and hope that it all works out for me,” Wolfe said. “I really would love to bring another ring to the city – help bring a ring to the city.”

He’s coming off a career season in Denver where he registered seven sacks in 12 games — a year that was cut short because of a dislocated elbow. 

Injuries have been a bit of a bugaboo for Wolfe, who has played 16 games in a season just three times in his eight-year career and just once in the last five years. While the past isn’t kind to Wolfe’s injury history, he’s confident he’s turned a corner when it comes to health. 

“It's been a bumpy road, but for the most part I've actually been pretty healthy,” Wolfe explained. “These injuries just come...It was the same injury that was nagging, and I finally got that surgery that cleared it up. I dislocated my elbow, obviously, having the best season of my career, showing that I have a ton of football left, and then I go out there and dislocate my elbow. And I think that hurt me.”

Not only confident about his health, but he’s also got high hopes for his new defensive line, too. 

“It was just like, ‘You know what, man? I think we can have the best defensive line in the league, for sure, and we could break records,” Wolfe said. “We could break the rushing record – yards per rush, stuff like that.’ Those are the kind of goals that I like to set.”

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Recruiting Roundup: St. Albans WR Jaden Coffen picks up 7 offers in the last month

Recruiting Roundup: St. Albans WR Jaden Coffen picks up 7 offers in the last month

The college football recruitment process has been different this year due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Prospects have had unofficial visits to campuses canceled and college coaches have been unable to meet prospects face-to-face. Fortunately, these complications have not precluded many DMV student athletes from earning scholarship opportunities from top programs in the nation.

Here’s a look at some of the most recent offers.

Jaden Coffen | 3-star Athlete

Class: 2021

School: St. Albans

Offers: 19

Jaden Coffen is beginning to receive the recognition he deserves. The 6-2, 200-pound athlete from St. Albans is a two-way contributor for the Bulldogs, starring as both a wide receiver and defensive back.

In the last month, Coffen has picked up seven new offers, including those from Air Force and Appalachian State.

Caleb Coombs | 3-star Wide Receiver

Class: 2021

School: St. John’s

Offers: 15

Caleb Coombs is primed to have a monster senior season. The 6-1, 180-pound wide receiver found himself overshadowed by 5-star Rakim Jarrett last year, but in 2020, Coombs is expected to be the focal point of the Cadets’ aerial attack.

Coombs’ speed and route running ability has already caught the eye of many of the top programs in the country. Of his 15 offers, eight of them are from SEC schools, including Alabama and Tennessee.

Shawn Murphy | 5-star Outside Linebacker

Class: 2022

School: Stonewall Jackson

Offers: 28

Shawn Murphy is not merely one of the top underclassmen in the DMV, he’s one of the best in the nation.

Murphy is a tackling machine. His length, range and instincts allow him to chase the ball sideline-to-sideline, making plays all over the field. In the last month, the 5-star student athlete has picked up offers from Memphis, Texas A&M and Oregon.

Xavier Ricks | Defensive Tackle

Class: 2021

School: Good Counsel

Offers: 6

Xavier Ricks played a significant role in helping Good Counsel secure the WCAC championship in 2019. The belief within the Falcons program is Ricks will be a dominating force in 2020.

At 6-3, 275, Ricks has excellent size and displays great quickness for an interior defensive lineman, and coaches around the country are beginning to take notice. Ricks has recently been offered by Morgan State, Lehigh and Monmouth.

Alfred Darlington | Offensive Lineman

Class: 2021

School: Westfield

Offers: 1

Alfred Darlington is a road-grader at perennial powerhouse Westfield. The all-conference lineman is strong at the point of attack and displays an ability to seek and destroy linebackers at the next level.

Standing 6-3, 275-pounds, Darlington recently earned his first offer from Delaware State. It won’t be his last.

Maxwell James | Wide Receiver

Class: 2021

School: Lake Braddock

Offers: 7

The big play threat from Lake Braddock is making a run up the recruiting boards. In the last week, Maxwell James earned offers from Army West Point and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In March, he also added Lehigh, Bucknell and the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Jaden Bradley | 3-star Wide Receiver

Class: 2021

School: DeMatha

Offers: 10

Jaden Bradley has been one of the hottest recruits in the DMV this off season. The 6-4 DeMatha Stags receiver has the length to snatch passes out of the air and offers from top programs.

In March, Bradley picked up UMass, Wake Forest, Towson and Georgetown amongst others.

Curtis Nixon II | Tight End

Class: 2021

School: Maret

Offers: 11

Curtis Nixon II is a two-sport stud at Maret School. When he’s not pounding the hardwood with Maret’s basketball team, he is catching game-winning touchdown’s for the Frogs football program.

Nixon has excellent length and athleticism which allows him to attack the ball at its highest point. He is just beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be and programs are beginning to take notice. In March, Nixon earned offers from Princeton, Georgetown, Yale, ODU, Rutgers and Harvard.

Dezmond Williams | 3-star Defensive Back

Class: 2021

School: Ryken

Offers: 6

The stock of Dez Williams is on the rise. The defensive back has the size to match up with big wide receivers on the outside and the quickness to cover the slot.

Williams is growing; he’s added height and he is beginning to fill out his frame. In the last week, he has picked up offers from JMU and ODU, and the likelihood is more are on the way.

Terion Sugick | 3-star Defensive Tackle

Class: 2021

School: National Christian Academy

Offers: 17

Terion Sugick is one of the top interior defensive linemen in the region. He is stout at stopping the run and proficient at rushing the passer.

Sugick, who holds offers from 17 programs, recently dropped his top 5: Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Wake Forest and Maryland.

To be included in our next edition, please tag @RealChadRicardo in your offer posts.

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