Michael Scotto, SNYNets.com
NEW YORK — Kris Humphries’ Nets tenure hit an all-time low on Wednesday, March 6th. After beating the lowly Charlotte Bobcats 99-78, Humphries failed to log a single minute of playing time. To put this into perspective, Tornike Shengelia, who has played sparingly and has been sent to the D-League multiple times, saw more action than Humphries. Shengelia has appeared in 14 games, averaging 3.9 minutes per game, for Brooklyn.
This is a mighty fall for Humphries less than one year after posting career highs in points per game (13.8), rebounds per game (10.9), and minutes per game (34.9).
This season has been a living nightmare for Humphries. After compiling inflated statistics on a team lacking talent around him in New Jersey, Humphries has failed to find his niche on a deeper and healthier team this year in Brooklyn.
Humphries’ production has decreased by nearly half in minutes per game (18.4) and rebounds per game (5.9), while his points per game average has declined by roughly 60 percent (5.46).
By benching Humphries, the move signals a change in P.J. Carlesimo’s coaching philosophy for the immediate future while casting further doubt that Humphries will remain in Brooklyn beyond this season.
On March 1st, Carlesimo told the media he contemplated starting international import Mirza Teletovic. While Carlesimo has decided to keep Reggie Evans as the starting power forward for the foreseeable future, it’s clear Humphries’ diminished role is an effort to give Teletovic more playing time.
Since that day, Teletovic has averaged 13.3 minutes per game in three games and made it clear he’s ready for an increased role.
“Definitely, of course,” said Teletovic. “It’s the more you play the more you feel comfortable because it’s tough after a while not playing, now I’m starting to play a little bit more and it’s very good for my confidence.”
Carlesimo has also discussed pairing Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche, Brooklyn’s top post scorers, on the floor together more frequently, since the coach is searching for an offensive spark from the power forward position. Carlesimo hopes to accomplish that by making these lineup changes.
As for Humphries, he will probably be back on the trade market this summer after being shopped along with MarShon Brooks at the trade deadline.
Next year, Humphries will earn $12 million in the final year of his contract and could be attractive to a team looking to shed salary. While Humphries’ value has declined, if the Nets were willing to add Brooks to a package built around Humphries, that may be enough to help the Nets snag a better power forward on the trade market this summer.
The power forward position has been Brooklyn’s weakest link this season. Evans is an elite rebounder, but struggles mightily on the offensive end. Teletovic can stretch the floor with his three-point shooting, but has struggled to stay with quicker forwards and grab rebounds in traffic on defense. Blatche has been most effective as a center and has routinely taken advantage of slower defenders at that position.
For now, one of those three players must rise to the challenge and provide consistency to the power forward position. In the near future, Brooklyn will probably search for an upgrade, especially since Blatche will be a free agent.
As the Nets set their eyes on the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2007, they will do so with uncertainty at the power forward position. Aside from Humphries being out, nothing at that spot seems certain.
Michael Scotto is an Analyst for SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter for the latest news from Brooklyn and the NBA: @MikeAScotto