The Dallas Mavericks parted company with coach Avery Johnson on Wednesday, a day following the team’s first-round exit from the NBA playoffs.
Speculation about Johnson’s future with the franchise had been mounting for weeks, ever since Dallas struggled to reach the playoffs as the seventh seed following its midseason acquisition of point guard Jason Kidd from New Jersey.
Johnson became Mavs coach during the 2004-05 season and walks away with a 194-70 record (.735), but only a 23-24 mark in the playoffs and 3-12 in the postseason since Dallas was dismantled by Miami in the 2006 NBA Finals.
New Orleans wrapped up a 4-1 series rout of Dallas with Tuesday night’s 99-94 victory.
“This is tough for me,” Johnson said after the game, not specifically responding to a question about his job security but struggling to contain his disappointment after the Mavs’ second straight flameout in the first round.
NBA front-office offices sources told ESPN.com that both the Mavs and Johnson, feeling that a coaching change was inevitable, wanted to come to a resolution quickly so Dallas could begin interviewing candidates and Johnson could pursue another job.
The New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls have openings.
Sources close to the situation have said that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban actually considered firing Johnson before the playoffs, specifically after Cuban and Johnson engaged in an emotional argument after a March 18 home loss to the Lakers.
Cuban refused to speak with reporters after Tuesday’s loss at New Orleans — Dallas’ ninth playoff defeat in a row on the road since taking a 2-0 lead in the 2006 Finals.