Brooklyn has officially begun its invasion of NYC…..
Out: Jordan Farmar (Israel), Gerald Green (IND)…Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro, & Jordan Williams (ATL), Shelden Williams (France), Armon Johnson, Sundiata Gaines (IND)
PG Deron Williams C.J. Watson, TyShawn Taylor (r)
SG Joe Johnson Marshon Brooks, Jerry Stackhouse
SF Gerald Wallace Josh Childress, Keith Bogans, James Mays (r)
PF Kris Humphries Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic (r)
C Brook Lopez Reggie Evans
Offseason Recap: I was one of those people who though that Deron Williams re-signing with the Nets was far from certain. I thought he had made little ties emotionally with the the team in the year and a half he was there. I was wrong. Williams made the ultimate decision to make the trip into the ‘Big Apple’ with Mikhail Prokhorov n’ crew. It was the first domino that needed to fall in order for GM Billy King to move forward with the rest of the summer’s business.
The Joe Johnson trade caught some of us offguard. It’s not that the team was willing to absorb that max contract…no, it was that the team decided to add a one-on-one scorer to the backcourt of Deron Williams and Marshon Brooks. It’s obvious what happened…new Atlanta GM Danny Ferry started to make some calls for unloading his biggest contract and the star-hungry Nets bit. Owner ‘Proky Proke’ was desperate to add a big name to the roster and he got his wish.
The happiest people when Dwight Howard went to L.A. (besides Lakers fans) were the member of the Nets front office. The team was finally able to move on with their lives. They quickly locked down Brook Lopez to an extension and then brought back Kris Humphries using way more $ than any other team was willing to offer (Cleveland would only commit 1 year). The starting lineup was set in Brooklyn and there should be little drama as to who will be out there for the jumpball every night. The loss of PG Jordan Farmar wasn’t a big deal as he felt he didn’t have a future with the Nets, anyways (J still thinks he should be a starter). The former Laker is now Tel Aviv’s newest baller. Rookie forward Mirza Teletovic is finally crossing the Atlantic to join the Nets this Fall. Here’s a word of advice: learn this guys name now because he’ll definitely be in the rotation.
The Reggie Evans acquisition from the Clippers in a sign-n-trade was huge. He gives this team an attitude and a toughness inside…he also gives them rebounding. All three of the aforementioned things Brook Lopez lacks. Avery Johnson will rely heavily on Reggie down the stretch in April.
Problem-child Andray Blatche & forgotten baller Josh Childress were signed recently to non-guaranteed contracts…but I have little doubt that they’ll make the team. This squad needs depth badly after spending an entire salary cap on their starters alone.
Lastly, can somebody please tell me what’s wrong with Marshon Brooks? The Nets obviously aren’t happy to have him because they threw the SG in just about every trade proposal this summer. The 25th pick in last year’s draft averaged 12.6 ppg as a rookie coming off the bench, a number that was much higher before he took his foot of the gas in March-April. The sky’s the limit for this scorer out of Providence…I just hope Brooklyn appreciates what they got.
Strengths: This team has as good of a vibe as you can have around a team. They’re moving into the NYC area, into a brand new arena, and will wear fresh hip-hop gear on the court. This alone should give the team 5-10 wins…..I’m serious. It’s a long 82-game season, so the positive energy and fan excitement will carry them at home many nights and even translate on the road. On the court, this team has plenty of talent now. The key is to get the defense and rebounding up to snuff as soon as possible. If Avery Johnson can get this (and a solid rotation) handled by January, the playoffs will be a foregone conclusion in Brooklyn.
Weaknesses: There’s only one ball. Both D-will and J.J. love to play with the ball on offense. Between the two of them will the ball ever get thrown into Lopez in the post? Kris Humphries better keep crashing the boards, cuz that’s the only way he’s going to see the rock. Lucky for Gerald Wallace that he doesn’t need plays or the ball to come his way…the modern-day Cedric Ceballos is a perfect fit for this Brooklyn streetball squad. On defense, the Nets were last in blocked shots and defensive rebounds last season. Okay, so Brook Lopez played in only 5 games last season…but the rebounding has been his weaknesses ever since coming into the NBA. As far as blocked shots, sure Lopez can get you those when healthy, but he hadly intimidates in the lane like say a Howard or Bynum. Regardless, Brook must improve on the boards if the Nets are to ever become contenders.
Prediction: The Brooklyn Nets are making a hard play on the Knicks’ fan base and territory…..and I luv it. The same way that position battles make a team better, intra-city rivals make a league better. I anticipate a great rivalry for decades to come, on the court and on the streets of the NYC. Barclays Center finally opened its doors this past week, a moment Bruce Ratner has been eyeing for nine years. Mikhail Prokhorov now has all the weapons that James Dolan has at his disposal…..let the best Billionaire win.
The Nets will battle Boston for 3rd in the division all season (behind the 76ers & Knicks). They’ll also be battling for the final 3 spots in the East playoff picture. Brooklyn could even finish as low as 8th, but they’re definitely a playoff squad based on talent alone. I don’t care how much money they spent this past summer, just making the playoffs would be a big accomplishment considering their recent history. I think Deron & Joe will find a way to gel on offense. Avery has been somewhat forgotten in N.J. the past two years but he’s still one of the better coaches around. He’ll get this talent to play together…and may even turn Andray Blatche into a professional, too.
I am concerned long-term for the Nets. They signed Brook Lopez to a max deal this summer, a guy who hasn’t made an All-Star team. What incentive does he have to get better? BKN also re-signed Kris Humphries to a deal at $12 million/year after making just $8M last season. What did he do to earn a 50% increase in pay? He played the same and the team was just as bad. I fear that the Nets front office will regret agreeing to these two price tags for years to come.