Assistant Tom Barrise will coach the team Sunday night in
Los Angeles against the Lakers, when the Nets could tie the record for the worst
start if they lose.
The Nets said a permanent replacement for Frank has not
Frank was in his sixth full season, the longest-tenured
coach in the Eastern Conference and the winningest coach in the Nets' NBA
history. But none of those victories came this season, and the team dismissed
him with a 225-241 record.
"Lawrence always approached every day with a passion for
his craft that was infectious, and his dedication to the game as well as his
work ethic are to be both admired and appreciated," Nets president Rod Thorn
said in a statement. "I wish he and his family only the best of good fortune in
Frank, a product of nearby Teaneck, N.J., began his
career with a 13-game winning streak, the best coaching start in league history.
But he couldn't overcome a losing streak that was even longer, just a game shy
of the 17-game skids set by the 1988-89 Miami Heat and the 1999 Los Angeles
Plagued by injuries this season, the Nets faced some
games where they were missing four starters and suited up the minimum eight
players. Still, they played hard and stayed close for most of those games,
figuring the wins would come when they started getting some bodies back.
Despite the losses, Frank was expected to last through
the four-game trip out West that ends Sunday, with management wanting to give
him time with a regular roster. But they decided it was time for a change after
the Nets fell far behind in losses at Denver and Sacramento.
After 3 1/2 seasons as a Nets assistant, Frank replaced
the fired Byron Scott on Jan. 26, 2004.
He quickly turned around a struggling team with his
record-setting start, winning Eastern Conference coach of the month honors in
February after leading the Nets to an 11-2 record, a franchise-record .846
The Nets made the playoffs in each of Frank's first four
seasons, advancing to the second round in three of them, before returning to
their longtime losing ways while slashing payroll in recent years.
Jason Kidd was traded in February 2008, fellow veterans
Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter were gone by last summer's draft, and only
the Kidd deal that landed All-Star point guard Devin Harris brought back much in
So after losing in the East semifinals in 2006 and '07,
the Nets stumbled to 34-48 finishes the last two seasons.
Plagued by poor attendance and heavy financial losses
while playing at the Meadowlands, the Nets have been looking ahead to a move to
Brooklyn. While management could make decisions with that in mind, Frank
ultimately paid the price for what was happening in the present.
The deals helped the Nets' financial future, leaving
them with the most salary cap space available for the stellar free agent class
expected next summer. But it left the team devoid of talented depth when New
Jersey was plagued by injuries early this season.
Even if the Nets played well, Frank might not have made
it past this season.
Owners will vote by the end of next month whether to
approve the sale of the team to Russian Mikhail Prokhorov. If the sale goes
through, as expected, Prokhorov could decide to bring in his own coaching staff.
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