Avery Johnson says he has agreed to become the coach of the New Jersey Nets, the NBA's worst team.

In a text message to the Associated Press yesterday, Johnson said he thinks the Nets will announce the deal today.

Nets president and GM Rod Thorn did not immediately respond when asked to comment on Johnson's text. In an earlier e-mail to the AP, he said he "will have something to say" today.

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 Mavs to the NBA finals in 2006, but was fired after a first-round playoff series loss to New Orleans in 2008.

Johnson will take over a team that posted a league worst 12-70 record and set a league-record opening the season with 18 straight losses.

The miserable start led to the firing of coach Lawrence Frank after 16 games. Outgoing general manager Kiki Vandeweghe served as the interim coach for the majority of the franchise's worst season and only the fifth 70-loss season in NBA history.

The Nets threatened to break the 76ers' league record for fewest wins in a season - nine - until a late run got them over the hump. The Sixers set the record in 1972-73.

Johnson is a proven winner, and his arrival in New Jersey will reunite him with point guard Devin Harris, who was shipped to New Jersey in the deal that sent Jason Kidd to the Mavericks.

New Jersey has the third pick in this month's draft, and Johnson should also benefit working with new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The Russian billionaire has said he will open his wallet in free agency, and the Nets have more than $23 million to spend on a talent pool that might include LeBron James.

Noteworthy

* Michigan State's Tom Izzo told his team he has talked to the Cleveland Cavaliers about their coaching vacancy, imploring them to concentrate on their classes and workouts to get better on and off the court.

"That was the gist of the meeting yesterday," associate head coach Mark Montgomery told the Associated Press.

Izzo did not tell the Spartans he was leaving the school to coach the Cavs. His decision, which could come within days or drag out for a month, might hinge on whether LeBron James re-signs in Cleveland.

A text message was sent by the AP to Izzo, who declined to comment about Cleveland-related reports in a radio interview earlier this week.

* The NBA still leads the way in sports diversity. The NBA was again the only men's professional sports league to receive a combined "A" for race and gender in the annual report released by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The league had slight decreases for blacks in front-office positions from last year but is still the best among men's pro sports, according to the study.

* The Los Angeles Lakers' victory in Boston in the NBA Finals earned the highest television ratings for a Game 3 since 2004, earning an 11.5 overnight rating.

Game 4 is tonight in Boston, with the Lakers leading the series, 2-1.