The Brooklyn Nets are officially on the clock. The NBA Draft is over but the rebuild in Brooklyn has now begun, thanks in large part to Billy King. How did the Nets get here so fast when their plan since coming to New York was championship or bust. What went wrong?
Maybe it was the Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce trade that yielded no NBA or Atlantic Division Championships. Or maybe it was the signing and then dumping of Deron Williams. Can’t forget about the half ass trade option of Joe Johnson or the non-signing of Andray Blatche or Shaun Livingston, the list can go on. But the big one has to be the building of the Boston Celtics (in which King has helped) and watching the New York Knicks take a bad situation and make something good out of it.
The Nets were on the fast track to NBA success according to the front office, but basketball fans were a bit skeptic of the moves being made. The idea of Garnett and Pierce teaming with Williams, Johnson and Brook Lopez looked great on paper. The Nets would be sending out five former All-Stars in a weak Eastern Conference. Everything was set, except the players.
The team never meshed, Garnett looked old, Williams confused, Johnson forgot how to shoot; Pierce was hesitant, and Lopez was injured. For two seasons Nets fans had to endure this ordeal until it was time to unplug the drain and start over. Pierce was gone, then Garnett, then Williams, then Johnson. All that’s left is one, Lopez. But for how long?
The Nets have money, but no one wants to take it. This is what happens when you throw all your chips in one slot machine without checking to see if the one the old lady just left might be a pull away from hitting it big. Bad decisions by the front office.
Now the Nets have entered the Philadelphia 76ers territory with a “trust the process” movement, but this is NY, there’s no time to go through 15 win seasons, they play for pride, play to win and above all else, they MUST be better than the Knicks. But 2016 will not be one of those bragging years for the Nets. The team is young, inexperienced and quite honestly, dreadful. The Nets finished 2015 with a record of 21-61, and with no first round picks, they had to trade their most consistent player, Thaddeus Young for the 20th selection, just to take a player they hope can contribute at PG. This is how far and fast the Nets have fallen in two years.
When your biggest signing in a talent-rich free agency class is Jeremy Lin, times have changed. The Nets went with a new coaching staff with Kenny Atkinson leading the way, a new GM, Sean Marks and a starting unit that will read like a Summer League roster but this must be done. There’s no need to go the fast route and try to sign every available free agent. Follow the success of the San Antonio Spurs, the Golden State Warriors or the Oklahoma City Thunder. Build through the draft and reach out to quality players and locker room guys.
As it stands now, the Nets will begin the 2016 season with Lin, Markel Brown, Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic and Trevor Booker. Anything can change, but this may be their best lineup. As a fan, I will be in the stands like I am every season cheering for my team, but this is where the Nets are headed and for the first time in three seasons it seems that have an idea as well.