Nets fire coach over 0-16 season start

The New Jersey Nets fired coach Lawrence Frank on Sunday after a disappointing 0-16 season start.

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 been determined.

Frank was in his sixth full season, the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference and the best winning recorder in the Nets' NBA history. But none of those victories came this season, and the team dismissed him with a 225-241 record.

Frank New Jersey, 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 Clippers.

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.

After three and half 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 84.6 percent winning percentage.

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 return.

So after losing in the East semifinals in 2006 and 2007, 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.

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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