It's official: NBA champ Avery Johnson hired as basketball coach

It's official: NBA champ Avery Johnson hired as basketball coach
Ron T. Ennis / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson directs the team during game action against the New York Knicks at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, Monday March 10, 2008. The Mavericks defeated the Knicks, 108-79. (Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

Former NBA champion and NBA coach of the year Avery Johnson has signed on as Alabama's next men's basketball coach, athletic director Bill Battle announced Monday night. 

“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," Battle said in a statement.  “Coach Johnson has an impressive record from the professional ranks, as both a player and a head coach. 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."

Johnson last coached in 2012, when he was fired from the Brooklyn Nets after 28 games with a 14-14 record after leading the then-New Jersey Nets beginning in 2010. Prior to his time with the Nets, he led the Dallas Mavericks to their first ever NBA Finals, falling to the Miami Heat in six games. During his time with the Mavericks, Johnson became the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 50, 100 and 150 wins. He left the NBA with a record of 440-254

“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's hire comes after Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall turned down the Alabama job to remain with the Shockers.

As a player, Johnson led the NCAA in assists twice during his time with Southern University, from 1986-88. Johnson still holds the top two spots in the record book for total assists in a season and assists per game. In his senior season, Johnson totaled 399 assists for 13.3 per game. He also holds the record for mosts assists in a single game at 22. He was the first Division I player to average a double-double. 

Alabama did not release details of the contract, but AL.com and The Tuscaloosa News reported a contract for six years and just under $18 million, including incentives. That figure would likely place Johnson within the top three or four highest paid coaches in the SEC, depending on his true base salary figure. Kentucky coach John Calipari is guaranteed $6.5 million a year, while Florida's Billy Donovan makes around $4.4 million and Auburn's Bruce Pearl makes $2.7 million. 

Johnson and strength and conditioning coach Lou DeNeen are the only coaches listed on Alabama's official website, RollTide.com. Whether Johnson adds 2014-15 assistant coach and Alabama alum Antoine Pettway to his staff remains to be seen. Pettway led the recruitment for Alabama's top commit, Theodore High School shooting guard Dazon Ingram, who de-committed from Alabama following Anthony Grant's firing. 

The New Orleans, Louisiana, native will likely be introduced in a press conference on Wednesday, according to AL.com. His contract must be approved by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. 

Johnson becomes the 20th coach in Alabama basketball history. 

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