Nets GM Billy King on Thursday said that the decision to fire coach Avery Johnson, who was in the final season of a three-year, $12M deal, was "made by ownership during an hourlong call" with team Owner Mikhail Prokhorov "earlier that morning." On Long Island, Roderick Boone notes the Nets started the season 11-4 but "have floundered in December, going 3-10.” Johnson said, "If somebody else thinks maybe we should be 24-4, that's their opinion. And if I have to pay the price for that, that's the way the business is.” Boone notes Prokhorov “shelled out" more than $330M in new contracts in the offseason, so there was "no way he was going to stand for mediocrity” (NEWSDAY, 12/28).
CLIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK: The Clippers are on a 15-game winning streak and hold the league's best record at 23-6, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers said L.A. is "always going to be a Laker town." Rivers: "But the buzz is strong for the Clippers, and that’s really nice to see. It’d be great for the area and for the league to see these teams competitive with one another for a while.” Celtics G Paul Pierce said that some of the “old Clippers bias may be lingering.” But he also believes that Clippers F Blake Griffin, G Chris Paul and the rest of the team “need to chase down some postseason success before they can truly plant their flag and have the locals salute” (BOSTON HERALD, 12/28).
BIRDS ON A WIRE: Orioles VP/Communications & Marketing Greg Bader said that it is “too early to have a grip on possible attendance" for the '13 season, but he added that the club has seen a noticeable uptick in deposits for season-ticket plans, "especially from new customers.” In Baltimore, Childs Walker noted the Orioles are “a stronger presence in national retail than they have been in years.” Fanatics.com reported sales of Orioles merchandise since Black Friday are up 136% "compared to the same dates last year," and up more than 300% "compared to the same dates in 2010." Women's and kids' merchandise are both up more than 200% "compared to 2011 holiday sales” (Baltimore SUN, 12/23).
FRIENDLY CONFINES: The Cubs last Friday said that they have “renewed their agreement with StubHub, changing their stance” from when they “opted out of the ticket-resale market.” The team will “end StubHub sales six hours before event time.” Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green last week “declined to comment on why the Cubs chose not to participate in the latest deal with StubHub” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 12/21).