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No Present. No Future. No (NBA) Championships. No Picks. No Coach. No General Manager. No Point Guard. No Shooting. No Chance.
All of these are perfect phrases that can easily be used to summarize the Brooklyn Nets short tenure in Kings County.
The Nets moved to Brooklyn in 2012 with the goal of winning a championship. Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov set the Nets up for failure by issuing a win-now mandate, which emphasized jeopardizing the future to compete for a championship. With Billy King in place as General Manager, Prokhorov was content with handing out draft pick after draft pick in order to win a championship.
King had no chance. I am not defending Billy King in any way, but it would be ignorant to say this is 100% his fault. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article for netsdailynews.com that summarized Billy King’s major moves. At the time, the Nets were fairly competitive, which helped improve my opinion on some of King’s moves. Here is the link if you want to check it out: http://www.netsdailynews.com/2014/08/17/analyzing-and-grading-billy-kings-major-moves-as-nets-gm/.
Trading for Deron Williams was a good move; however, in retrospect, the value of the players Utah received far outweighed the value Deron Williams provided in his five seasons as the face of the franchise. Derrick Favors has developed into a star and draft picks Enes Kanter and Trey Burke have had pretty good starts to their NBA careers. Williams, on the other hand, wasn’t meant to play here. He couldn’t handle the expectations of real New York basketball fans. One has to think what a front court of Derrick Favors and Brook Lopez could provide.
The Nets’ trades around Deron Williams have been the real problem. Dishing Gerald Wallace for a lottery pick. Giving/swapping multiple first round picks for Joe Johnson. Giving up three first round picks for a diminished Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. The Nets got rid of young talent, draft picks, and cap space to build a team that won a single playoff series in three years. This is what the Nets could have been had they not traded their picks…
PG: Damien Lillard/Devin Harris
SG: Trey Burke/James Young
SF: Draymond Green/Mirza Teletovic
PF: Derrick Favors/Mason Plumlee
C: Brook Lopez/Enes Kanter
Oh yea, and all of their DRAFT PICKS!
Alright, I’m over writing about what could have been. Let’s talk about the present. Let me introduce your current 11-28 Brooklyn Nets…
PG: Jarret Jack (IR)/Shane Larkin/Donald Sloan
SG: Bojan Bogdanovic/Wayne Ellington/Markel Brown
SF: Joe Johnson/Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (IR)/Sergey Karasev
PF: Thaddeus Young/Thomas Robinson/Chris McCullough (IR)
C: Brook Lopez/Willie Reed/Andrea Bargnani
This unit ranks 29th in 3 point shooting percentage and 3PM in a league filled with sharpshooters. When you consider that stat with the fact that they turn the ball over 15.2 times per game, you start to realize why this team is so pitiful. If you aren’t going to shoot the ball from the outside, you have to be a very efficient offensive team to be good. Well, the Nets aren’t as they are 30th in the league in total points. This year’s team is a mess. They have no chance of making a run and the season’s goal, at this point, has turned into trying to ruin the Celtics draft pick by winning as many possible games. They have nothing to lose. Well, except the dwindling fanbase.
Prokhorov finally admitted his mistakes by letting go of both Billy King and head coach Lionel Hollins over the weekend. No real suitors have stepped up to the plate and I honestly can’t blame them. Who would want to coach a team with minimal athleticism and no shooting ability. Also, what GM would want to pick up a team with no players or picks. Unless a core of Brook Lopez, Thad Young and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is appealing, then I doubt that they will be able to bring in young free agents.
The Nets have always been linked to Kentucky coach John Calipari, especially considering the success he has had on the recruiting trail at Memphis and Kentucky. Every time the Nets job opens up, his friend Brett Yormark makes a call and Calipari’s agent again tells him that he isn’t leaving. In fact, Caliper would only leave Kentucky if he was offered a $120 million guaranteed contract, per his agent. The Nets thought they could bring in Coach Cal this time by having him take care of both empty slots in a head coach/team president role. Unfortunately, he has turned it down earlier this week.
Other rumored names include Mark Jackson/Tom Thibodeau as coach and Bryan Colangelo/Danny Ferry as GM. The Nets should look to make their hires now, so they can start to instill a culture in this lifeless team. Hopefully, the Nets can get a coach that can actually motivate his players to buy into a goal like all great teams do.
Whoever the Nets sign as coach and general manager has to be given a good opportunity to succeed and gain continuity. The Nets have had four coaches since moving to Brooklyn. As soon as they seemed to gain momentum with the playoff series win under Jason Kidd, he skips town to Milwaukee and the Nets wind up with Lionel Hollins. Hollins’ system relied on players that were unselfish and could sacrifice larger roles for the good of the team. Hollins didn’t inherit that type of team, which hurt him in the end. Continuity is a big deal for NBA head coaches in order to build a dynasty.
Moving forward, the Nets should look to either wait and rebuild or grab young talent to help build a good core. Brook Lopez and Thad Young are good contributors, but shouldn’t be the faces of the franchise. Chris McCullough and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s developments are the key to the Nets’ success at this point. They have reportedly demonstrated interest on DeMar Derozan and Nic Batum, two potential signings that could help accelerate the rebuild. They will have $40 Million in cap space next season and will need to spend wisely in order to have a chance of a return to relevance.