Official: Alabama Hires Former NBA Coach Avery Johnson
Just over three weeks after its men’s basketball head coaching job opened up, Alabama has found its new man.
The school announced Monday evening that Avery Johnson, a former NBA head coach for the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, has accepted the Crimson Tide’s offer to become its next head coach. According to AL.com, Johnson will be formally introduced in a news conference on the school's campus Wednesday.
Terms of Johnson’s deal weren’t immediately disclosed, though the Tuscaloosa News is reporting that the deal is “six years, approximately $17 million plus incentives.”
“I am very pleased to announce that I have reached an agreement with Avery Johnson to become the new head men's basketball coach at the University of Alabama,” athletic director Bill Battle said.
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman was the first to report that Johnson had agreed in principle with Alabama on Sunday. On Saturday, Alabama athletic director Bill Battle reportedly visited Johnson at his home in Dallas to discuss the job opening.
“Coach Johnson has an impressive record from the professional ranks, as both a player and a head coach,” Battle said. “His personal history is a testament to what character, enthusiasm, perseverance, talent and intelligence can do. He has shown fortitude and skill in every opportunity.”
The 50-year-old Johnson is best known for his nearly four-year run as head coach of the Mavericks, where he helped guide the franchise to 50 or more wins in each season. In his first full season as head coach in 2005-06, Johnson was named NBA Coach of the Year and the Mavericks reached the NBA Finals.
Johnson, who also played 16 years in the NBA and was a member of the 1999 champion San Antonio Spurs, hasn't coached since he was fired by the Nets 28 games into the 2012-13 NBA season. Overall, Johnson holds a career coaching record of 440-254 over seven NBA seasons.
Prior to accepting Alabama’s offer, Johnson was in his second stint as an NBA analyst for ESPN, a position he has held since 2013. He held the same job during the 2008 and 2009 NBA seasons, following his dismissal from the Mavericks.
Johnson has never coached at the college level but has a familiarity with the SEC. A New Orleans native, Johnson played collegiately at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for two seasons in the 1980s. His son, Avery Johnson Jr., was also a freshman on Texas A&M’s men’s basketball team this past season.
"I am confident that Avery will provide our student-athletes with the best qualities of leadership: commitment, hard work, enthusiasm, poise, confidence, and pride,” Battle said. “I am very excited about having Avery join the Crimson Tide family. Not only do I believe that he will be an excellent head coach, but I am also convinced that he will be a tremendous example to our student-athletes in all areas on and off the court."
Johnson replaces Anthony Grant, who was fired 22 days ago on March 15 after six seasons. Grant had a 117-85 overall record, including three consecutive 20-plus win seasons at the school, but led the Crimson Tide to only one NCAA tournament appearance, a 58-57 first-round loss against Creighton in 2012.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, Battle's previous top target for the job, rejected the Crimson Tide’s offer when he signed a new seven-year deal with the Shockers last Wednesday.