Next season, the Islanders will leave Nassau Coliseum and begin a 25-year lease as the Nets’ co-tenant at Barclays Center. Believe it or not, when that happens, the Islanders will be the most competent organization to call the building home, and it could be that way for a long time.
As many readers know, I happen to be a fan of both teams, so I’m more than familiar with the very different paths each team took to relevance these last few years. One team did it the painful, but more successful and sustainable way: a full-fledged rebuild. The other, unfortunately, tried to cut corners, and that’s a shame. Because now, less than a quarter into their season, the Islanders have more wins than the Nets, Knicks, Jets and Giants combined. And Brooklyn’s team? Well, they look like one big, hot mess.
It didn’t have to be like this either. The Nets didn’t have to make huge trades to deal future assets away, all while absorbing huge contracts (Joe Johnson) or painting themselves in a corner to ink new deals (Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace) for aging veterans. They could have moved Brook Lopez, a burgeoning star, for a haul of future chips before he sustained a second foot injury. Even after they constructed a core good enough to grab the four seed in the East, they didn’t have to go for broke and mortgage the future for ancient Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. That, for lack of a better terms, is the post-2001 Yankees way of doing things. Throwing money at the short-term problems in hopes of squeaking through a exceedingly small window of opportunity.
The Nets decided their quickest way to grabbing their share of the New York market would be to make a splash. I’ll give that to them, they did just that. But the splashiest teams are usually not the teams standing at the end of the season hoisting a trophy. For all their moves that pulled the Nets out of the NBA’s gutter, they have exactly one playoff series win to show for it and not much else. The future doesn’t look particularly bright, with either an absence of a first round pick or picks that are susceptible to swapping in the next four drafts. And already, we’re dreaming of the next free agent we can land? What’s that about the definition of insanity again?
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GEICO SportsNite has the latest from Brooklyn Nets practice as Kevin Garnett discussed where the team needs to improve and its chemistry.
Deron Williams sung the praises of the San Antonio Spurs as the model NBA franchise.
Shortly after a 99-87 loss to the defending NBA champs, Williams gushed about the Spurs’ run of success that has resulted in four titles since 2003.
“It’s a team you envy because they’ve had a system, they’ve had a coach, they’ve pretty much had the same group of guys for a long time,” Williams told reporters on Saturday night. “And you can just tell they’re comfortable playing with each other. We haven’t had that luxury. We’re trying to get to that eventually.”
Here’s thing thing: the Nets can’t be the Spurs. Definitely not now, and if they’re insistent on sticking to a strategy that included building with mega stars and dealing away assets, they never will be.
Think about the pie-in-the-sky scenario for the Nets, which is Kevin Durant decided to sign here. Then what? You’d need stars around KD, and Williams and Lopez will each be two years older. So what will Billy King, or whoever is at the helm, do? We’ll be right back in the same spot, mortgaging the future, depleting future assets, and trying to find the right well-traveled coach to oversee it. The Spurs are a product of a system and stability, yes, but also a full-fledged rebuild. Until the Nets admit that it’s the only way to build a sustained contender, they’ll never match the success enjoyed down in San Antonio.
Andrei Kirilenko is not traveling with the Nets on their latest road trip.
“It’s just life,” head coach Lionel Hollins said regarding the Kirilenko sitation. “I go with what’s out there and who is getting the job done. There’s times where certain other guys have fallen back and earned their trust back, but it’s basketball.”
No negotiations for a buy out of Kirilenko’s contract have taken place, but sources say Kirilenko has played his last game in Brooklyn (Bontemps, Nov 21).
Who is interested in acquiring him?
The Sixers and Nets have discussed a swap where both Kirilenko and Sergey Karasev would head to Philadelphia, then Kirilenko would be cut.
Cavaliers are said to be monitoring the Kirilenko situation (Haynes, Nov 23).
If the Nets choose to hold on to Kirilenko past December 15 when the trade market expands, the Jazz have discussed swapping Jeremy Evans and/or Toure Murry (Stein, Nov 24).
I’m intrigued by the Utah scenario, primarily because the Jazz may be willing to surrender more talent than other teams. They’re already familiar with Kirilenko’s style of play, and Utah needs to make inroads in a seriously strong Western Conference. That same pressure to improve may not exist for a contender like the Cavs, who probably believe that they just need additional time to gel with LeBron, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving on the floor together.
Whatever materializes, the Nets need to get something of value. The relationship between AK47 and Brooklyn may be irreparable, but the fact remains that he’s a major piece that a contender will covet on a reasonable $3.3 million expiring contract. That’s quite an asset.
Result: The Spurs beat the Nets 99-87 on Saturday night in San Antonio.
Need to Know: Deron Williams’ 24 points and Mirza Teletovic’s 22 points weren’t enough to beat the Spurs.
Joe Johnson added 12 points, as the only other Nets player in double digits.
New York shot 37 percent from the field as a team.
Tony Parker had 22 and Kawhi Leonard had 21 for the Spurs.
Links: Recap | Box Score
What’s Next: The Nets play the Sixers in Philly on Tuesday.
The Nets are in San Antonio to take on the Spurs on Saturday night.
The game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on YES and WFAN.
Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Bojan Bogdanovic, Deron Williams and Mason Plumlee are expected to start.
Kevin Garnett (rest) is not expected to play.
Recap: The Thunder’s Reggie Jackson missed a clean look at a three at the buzzer and Nets ended their five-game losing streak.
Need to Know: Jarrett Jack came off the bench and had 23 points to lead the Nets. Brook Lopez had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Nets bench had 27 points on 12 of 17 shooting with five assists and two turnovers in the first half.
The Nets have won three in a row in Oklahoma City, which was without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder have lost five in a row.
Before Friday, the Nets’ Bojan Bogdanovic led all rookies in three-point field goals made (19) and attempted (51). But he struggled Friday, with three points in 23 minutes with no field goals (0-for-5).
Nets opponents averaged 106.6 points during the five-game losing streak.
Links: Box Score
What’s Next: The Nets travel to San Antonio to face the defending champion Spurs Saturday at 8:30 p.m.