seth rollins

WWE champion: The Nets “all kind of stink, don’t they?”

Barclays Center hosted WWE’s SummerSlam weekend, and on Monday Night Raw, their champion threw some shade in the Nets’ direction.

During the final segment of the show, in which WWE and United States champion Seth Rollins was supposed to receive a bronze statue proclaiming him to be the next all-time great of the company, Rollins discussed his own legendary status, and the Nets current lack of legendary players.

“There aren’t really any legendary Brooklyn Nets, right,” Rollins opined. “They all kind of stink, don’t they?”

Brian Erni

Hard to really argue with that. Rollins is great; the perfect wrestling heel. Remember, this is the same guy that called Johnny Manziel “Johnny Idiot face” a few months ago, so you have to give Rollins his due: he’s usually a pretty astute judge of character. Hey, maybe if Lionel Hollins can’t push the Nets to greatness, we can get the world heavyweight champ to show the boys how it’s done.

joe free throw

Joe Johnson could be available later this season

Joe Johnson and trade rumors are old friends at this point, and if things go south for Brooklyn this year, one of those rumors may finally come to fruition.

Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck explains that, while he doesn’t expect Johnson will be moved, his expiring deal and the Nets’ new youth-first philosophy might lead to his eventual departure.

“Joe Johnson, while no longer than leading man at this stage of his career, would be a great role player for some team as a short term investment,” Beck said. “He’s a free agent next summer. I can see him fitting in with any number of teams that expect to make a deep playoff run, and the Nets are in a pseudo rebuild right now. So for the right offer, I could absolutely see Joe Johnson being moved.” (h/t to NetsDaily for the transcription).

Brian Erni

Beck’s hunch is a good one, but only if the Nets fall out of contention. With that early schedule, that’s not out of the realm of possibility. So if Brooklyn is headed for that 30-52 season ESPN projected them for, Johnson will probably be as good as gone at some point this winter. But Johnson is a wild card of sorts. We know he’s still capable of playing at a high level, despite a down year last season. If the Nets’ beefed up front court can help open up some space for him and he has more shots fall this season, Brooklyn could surpass the low expectations for them around the league. If that happens, Johnson isn’t going anywhere.  

dwill struggle

Will Deron Williams prove to be one of the most underrated free agent signings?

Deron Williams was Brooklyn’s trash this offseason, but will he be Dallas’ treasure?

Jessica Camerato, Lang Greene, Alex Kennedy, Joel Brigham, and Moke Hamilton discussed their predictions for the most underrated free agent signings of the offseason for Basketball Insiders, and Hamilton says it will be D-Will who turns the most heads.

“Call me crazy, if you’d like, in fact I’m actually a little surprised myself that I’m actually going to say this, but I think Deron Williams may actually end up being one of the most surprisingly-productive acquisitions of this past summer,” Hamilton said. “Watching Williams for a number of years in Brooklyn, I can honestly look back at him and say that he never really seemed happy.  I don’t think the bright lights of New York City, the media obligations, and the expectations that were thrust on him […], I don’t think that boded positively for Williams’ tenure here […] Though he’s not the same player he was in 2009, 2010, or 2011, I think at $5 million a year, he’s an absolute steal for the Dallas Mavericks.”

Williams will return to Barclays Center on December 23.

Brian Erni

Moke is right. At $5 million per, Williams probably is a steal. In Brooklyn, D-Will was being treated (and paid) like a franchise player, and he couldn’t handle it, because that’s not the type of player he is anymore. Nets fans know from experience that the Utah version of D-Will only surfaces a few nights a year, and that’s when he can keep himself on the court.

But with minimal expectations playing for his hometown team where he can just be another guy with a role to play? That’s a winning formula. The Nets needed to cut ties with Williams for the good of the franchise. It was time for Brooklyn to move on. But I do think Dallas is poised to get a huge bargain.

brook lopez sad

ESPN projects disaster season for the Nets

Are you squeamish? Then don’t look at ESPN’s 2015-16 forecast for the Nets.

ESPN released their Eastern Conference forecast for this season and predicts Brooklyn will finish 12th in the East with a 30-52 record.

The only teams ranked behind the Nets are Orlando, the Knicks, and the 76ers. The forecast has the final playoff spot going to Boston with a 40-42 record.

Brian Erni

The horror! This is scary, especially because ESPN has a habit of coming very close, or flat out nailing these on the head of late. Are the Nets really this bad? Despite being very thin at the point guard position, I have a hard time believing they’ll be this bad. Maybe I’m wrong. I do tend to get more optimistic about this club in the summer, but this reads like a worst case scenario.

Now, maybe a worst case scenario is exactly what we’re in for. The specter of Brook Lopez’s foot always looms over the Nets, and their success after Thad Young came over was a relatively-small sample size. But if Jarrett Jack can be even close to serviceable, I have to think Brooklyn will hang around the eighth spot once again this season. Finishing 10 games back of a playoff spot seems drastic.

rondae hollis-jefferson

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is ready to lead

The Nets are in transition, and one of the newest and youngest on Brooklyn’s roster thinks he can lead them into a new era.

First-round pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson told Sports Illustrated he believes he can fill a leadership void left by the release of Deron Williams.

“You got to show that you can be out there, show that you can do those things [to help the team win],” Hollis-Jefferson said. “If you show those things, no matter who you are, no matter how old you are, people follow good things. On top of that, I got a good smile. and I got a good personality … I’m willing to do what it takes to help, make it easier for everybody. So it should be a smooth transition, I believe.”

Brian Erni

I love this kid. He is so confident and has such a magnetic personality, and it’s a breath of fresh air on a Brooklyn team that has lacked character in the last few seasons. I know the Nets traded Mason Plumlee to get RHJ, and I was a big Plumlee fan. I think he’ll do very well for himself in Portland. But it just feels like Hollis-Jefferson can be the next big star in the city. He has a long way to go and a lot to prove, but it certainly seems like he’s up to that challenge.

Apr 27, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Johnson (7) drives during the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Nets will open against the Bulls, Deron returns on December 23

The Nets will open their 2015-16 season against the Chicago Bulls on October 28 at Barclays Center.

The league released the schedule for the upcoming campaign on Wednesday, and will face a tough slate of opponents out of the gate that include Chicago, San Antonio, Houston and Golden State. Eleven of the Nets’ first 16 games will be on the road.

Deron Williams will return to Brooklyn with the Dallas Mavericks on December 23. The Nets do not play on Christmas Day.

To view the Nets full schedule, click here.

Brian Erni

Yikes. Those first 11 games are brutal! The Spurs, Grizzlies, Hawks, Bucks, Rockets, and Warriors all on the road. If Brooklyn can make it out of that stretch at .500 or better, it’ll be a very good sign. The Nets have gotten off to painstakingly slow starts their first three years in the borough, and they can’t afford one this season. They need to come out and show they can play with the top contenders in the league, or else they may get buried in the East before Thanksgiving.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens when Williams comes back to Brooklyn, especially what kind of reception he gets. When he’s motivated, D-Will can still take over a game, and I’m sure he’d love to show the Nets they made a big mistake. The Nets might not play on the NBA’s Christmas stage, but in my eyes, December 23rd will be the main event over the holidays.

ratner prokhorov

Ratner given extension to settle his debt with Prokhorov

Bruce Ratner has been given until September 8 to settle his debts with majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov in order to keep his stake in Nets Sports and Entertainment (Soshnick, Aug. 12).

It was reported last week that Ratner had a deadline to square away with Prokhorov by the end of the week. If he is unable to do so by his new extension date he is in danger of losing a significant portion of his share (Aug. 8).

According to a report in the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report, Ratner’s parent company — Forest City Ratner — had until August 12 to pay Prokhorov more than $25 million in outstanding debt, and $6.3 million to cover current team losses.

Now, if Ratner doesn’t pay up by September 8, his 20 percent stake in the team could be significantly reduced.

The report says that Ratner owes Prokhorov the money for failing to cover any losses the Nets have incurred since moving to Brooklyn. The deadline has been extended once already.

Last year, Ratner explored selling his 20 percent stake in the team. When he couldn’t find a suitor, he put his portion of Barclays Center on the market. Prokhorov was rumored to have interest in both.