Recap: The Nets fell to the Celtics on Wednesday night in Boston.
Need to Know: Mason Plumlee led the way for the Nets with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Mirza Teletovic, Jorge Gutierrez, Cory Jefferson, and Marquis Teague also scored in double figures for Brooklyn. Teletovic racked up 15 points, Gutierrez scored 12, Jefferson notched 11, and Teague had 10.
Links: Recap | Box Score | Play by Play
What’s Next: The Nets open the regular season on Wednesday, October 29 in Boston against the Celtics at 7:30 p.m.
Mirza Teletovic is finally confident that there’s a plan in place to properly utilize him in Brooklyn’s offense.
Teletovic told Bosnia news outlet Avaz that Lionel Hollins has multiple ways to get Teletovic involved that will take advantage of his sniper-like shooting skills (h/t to NetsDaily for the translation).
“I am satisfied. I am confident that I will have a lot more playing time than in the previous two seasons. Also, before there was no cohesive plan of action for me, this time Hollins set up several lines of attack where I will have a major role, which means that I will have more space and greater responsibility.”
Teletovic also touches on the departure of Paul Pierce, the title expectations in Brooklyn, and the difference in game ball construction in the U.S., among other topics.
Teletovic was frustrated coming into camp last season. In his rookie year, he was completely mishandled by both Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo. Mirza averaged just 9.4 minutes per game over the course of 53 contests back then, and it was evident from his 34.3 percent shooting from deep that he just never found a rhythm. Fast forward a year and Teletovic showed a world of improvement under Jason Kidd. He shot more than 3 percentage points better overall, and his production from deep spiked to 39 percent. Still, I’m left to wonder if there’s possibly a way to get even more out of the Bosnia sharpshooter.
Mirza has looked outstanding in the preseason, and I think the Nets’ new offensive system should create a lot more opportunities for him to shoot. Hollins has already given Teletovic a vote of confidence as the de facto power forward in a Brook Lopez-less lineup, so it stands to reason that with more time to shine — coupled with the fact that it’s his contract year — Mirza could be in for a big season.
Paul Pierce says Jason Kidd’s departure created a chain reaction that led to the Nets organization changing course.
“I definitely didn’t see all that coming,” Pierce told Mike Mazzeo at Wizards shootaround before Washington played the Knicks at the Garden. “I think it all started with Jason leaving, it was kind of like a domino from there.”
Pierce again reiterated that the Nets did not offer him a contract, a fact that Jason Kidd said he wholeheartedly believes.
“I believe it,” Kidd said on Sunday when asked about Pierce’s assertion he wasn’t offered a deal by the Nets. “I mean, if they don’t offer [Pierce] a contract worth what a first-round pick is, then why did we do the deal [last year for Pierce and Garnett]?”
“Jason was one of the main reasons I came to Brooklyn, him and Kevin,” Pierce continued. “But the business, you got to understand the business aspect of it. He moved on, the Nets moved on and people went their different directions.”
I know it may be hard for Pierce and Kidd to believe, but this Nets team wasn’t exactly a reincarnation of the 1990s Bulls. They won one
playoff series, and only a last second blocked shot assured them of that. These comments reek of revisionist history. It’s not like Billy King broke up Jordan and Pippen. Pierce wanted a certain amount, Billy King thought it was better to save money and bring Bojan Bogdanovic over to fill that hole instead. Done. End of story.
Kidd’s comments also show a glimpse into why the Nets may have not wanted to give him say over personnel (something Kidd still claims he never asked for). Why would the Nets double down on a move even after it’s clear that it isn’t working out as envisioned? The Nets made their play by making the trade with Boston, but that doesn’t mean they should have shelled out whatever it takes to keep Pierce. It seems like the better way for the Nets to get a long-term window on winning a title is by building this thing up again from the ground floor. Another year or two of Pierce probably wasn’t going to get the job done.
Don’t be confused, Nets fans. Billy King still envisions a championship in Brooklyn in the near future. He’s just not slinging around a blank checkbook anymore. He’s banking that he can outsmart his fellow GMs.
“Our goal is still to try to win a championship,” King told Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press. “We’re not taking steps back or anything like that. We’re trying to build a team we feel can win.”
King has been compelled to give answers like this since he executed an offseason plan that saw the Nets let Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston walk, while importing younger, less experienced players. It seems to have taken some off guard, mostly due to the spending habits of the franchise since King took the reins of the front office. Those habits were justifiably likened to a drunken sailor’s. But now King is relying more on his basketball acumen than his owner’s bankroll, and that’s probably a good thing.
King made some splash-worthy, but questionable decisions the last few years: trading major assets for Gerald Wallace, then signing him to a mega contract. Taking Joe Johnson’s sizable contract off the Hawks’ hands. And, of course, the piece de resistance, the trade with Boston that sent a large chunk of the Nets future drafts for Piece and Kevin Garnett. Some have worked out (Johnson), some haven’t (Wallace), but it’s left the Nets here, in a strange sort of limbo.
That limbo is a team that, while seemingly still very good on paper, has some question marks. At first glance, the depth looks suspect, until you take into account that contributions from young players like Mason Plumlee and Sergey Karasev could outperform expectations. The health is obviously a huge issue, but the willingness to financially overreach to plug any holes seems to be what has some worried.
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The Brooklyn Nets have a lower payroll, are a year older, have a new head coach and are minus Paul Pierce, but GM Billy King still believes the team is a contender (Associated Press, Oct. 21.)
In an interview with the Associated Press, King didn’t shy away from the win-now mode. The Nets’ payroll was near $200 million last year, and while it is lower, will still be over $100 million this season.
“Our goal is still to try to win a championship,” King told the AP. “We’re not taking steps back or anything like that. We’re trying to build a team we feel can win.”
Deron Williams looks healthy and ready to go.
“I’m still getting there, I’m still getting my feet under me,” Williams said, according to reporters after Monday night’s win over Philadelphia. “I’ve only been running since September 1, so it’s still getting there. It’s still a process. There’s still scar tissue in my ankles, and I’m just working through it. But I feel good, I feel a lot better than last year, so I just continue to get my lift back, game by game.”
Williams has shot 50 percent (25-for-52) in the preseason, while averaging 14.2 points and 5.8 assists per game. The Nets have one preseason game remaining before their season opener.
This isn’t the first time we’ve underscored Williams’ importance to this Nets team, and it certainly won’t be the last. Williams is the engine to this club, and his ability to be a playmaker in Brooklyn’s back court is going to define just how good this team can be this season. I like that the assists numbers have been there, particularly in this new offense that is going to rely on motion.
Williams has been more confident driving to the basket in the preseason, and that’s what can be so lethal about his game. If he can be that dynamic, fast-off-the-dribble driver, he’ll create space for shooter like Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Johnson. That’s what this offense needs, and if his health holds up, that’s what Williams looks poised to provide this season.
The Nets didn’t seem to enjoy their trip to China. Or, at least, they don’t seem to be enjoying the after-effects.
Brooklyn is suffering from team-wide jet lag, with multiple players (Kevin Garnett and Markel Brown) having missed games due to a stomach virus.
“We’re still trying to get China out of us,” Deron Williams said after the Nets’ preseason win over Philadelphia on Monday night.
When asked about the possibility of playing regular season games in Asia, Mason Plumlee quickly spoke up that he wouldn’t be in support of that.
“I wouldn’t do that to a team. They aren’t going to listen to me, but I’d be against that,” Plumlee told reporters. “It is very tough. You get back at 3 AM and it’s 3 PM. Your sleep is important to an athlete. You want to be on and locked in, and when you see the bobbled balls, the bad passes, that’s a [result of getting over the trip].”
I figured the Nets’ real feelings would eventually come out
on this. But that’s what you get when taking the brand global is one of the top priorities for the organization. It aggravates me that the Nets have to be the guinea pigs for every single idea that NBA has. That’s not a big deal when it’s playing one less minute per quarter, but when you’re sending a team clear across the world just a few weeks before the season, it’s not ideal. Now, I get the Nets didn’t know they’d be learning a new offense and adapting to a new head coach when they agreed to play these games in China, but the fact is that now enough is enough. No more London or China for a while, just let this team stay stateside for a few years and focus on the task at hand. Because, as a fan, hearing these quotes a week before the regular season does nothing but aggravate me, and nothing is going to build the brand more than winning basketball games.