EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets have reached an agreement in principle with Avery Johnson to become the coach of the NBA's worst team.
Nets president Rod Thorn announced the agreement on Thursday, less than 24 hours after Johnson said in a text to The Associated Press that he was taking the job as coach.
The Nets did not disclose financial terms of the three-year agreement.
The current ESPN analyst coached Dallas for three-plus seasons, going 194-70 in the regular season and 23-24 in the playoffs. He guided the Mavericks to the NBA finals in 2006, and was fired after a first-round playoff series loss to New Orleans in 2008.
"He has enjoyed success in this league as both a player and head coach, and we feel that he possesses all of the characteristics, including knowledge, passion and leadership, that are necessary for us to be a championship contender in the years to come," Thorn said.
New Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov called the hiring the first step toward turning the team into a winner after a franchise worst 12-70 record last season.
"His leadership qualities, knowledge of the game and ability to motivate are all talents we will be calling upon as we move forward," Prokhorov said. "This is the beginning of what I hope will be many more exciting announcements to come before the start of the season."
Johnson led the Mavericks to the postseason in each of his seasons as a head coach. He has the highest coaching winning percentage in NBA history and set the record for reaching the 150-win plateau the fastest (191 games). In 2005-06, Johnson led the Mavericks to their first ever appearance in the NBA finals en route to earning NBA Coach of the Year honors.
"The future of the team is bright and I am excited to be a part of that future," Johnson said. "We want to play tough, hard-nosed defense and we are going to move the ball on offense. It's all going to begin with training camp where we will start building a foundation for the future."
Johnson began the 2004-05 season as an assistant coach with Dallas after retiring as a player on Oct. 28, 2004. In 16 NBA seasons, he averaged 8.4 points, 5.5 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 25.3 minutes played in 1,054 career games with seven teams.
His on-court leadership helped guide the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA championship in 1999.