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Dallas Mavericks granted a five-year, $20 million contract to coach Avery Johnson locking up one of the NBA's most successful young coaches in Dallas until 2011.
Johnson has coached only one full and one partial season in the NBA since last year. But during this short span of time, the Mavericks reached the NBA Finals for the first time, only losing to the Miami Heat in six games. Indeed Johnson managed to lead Dallas to a 60-22 record last season after coaching the final 18 games in 2005 when Don Nelson decided to step down.
The newly signed contract will make Johnson the latest recruit of the Mavericks to be locked into a long-term deal by owner Mark Cuban during the off-season. Indeed before him, Dirk Nowitzki also signed an extension that also will keep him in Dallas through 2011.
Johnson, 41, had still three years left on his previous contract, which averaged $2.5 million per season. But discussions with owner Cuban regarding a more lucrative deal had been ongoing since the Mavericks were eliminated from the Finals. There had been even rumors about Johnson's long-term future with the Mavericks when he entered training camp without a new contract. But the rumors are over with the public announcement of the signature of the multi-year contract. Both Cuban and Johnson announced their mutual pleasure to work with each other and emphasized the great potential of the Mavericks. Mavericks players were also pleased at the announcement.
As a player, Johnson also won an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. He began his coaching career as Mavericks assistant after retiring as a player in 2004. Even if he is a young coach, his recent record of 76-24 in regular-season games with the Mavericks is almost unprecedented. The only coach to win as many games as Johnson over his first 100 in the NBA was Paul Westphal with 77-23 with the Suns in 1992-1993). Bill Russell held the record for 26 years prior to Westphal with 74-26 in regular season games.