CelticsLife Atlantic Division Preview: The Brooklyn Nets

2013/14 record: 44-38
Over the course of the week, members of the CelticsLife staff will take a look at what to expect from the Atlantic Division this coming season. Today, let's dive into the Brooklyn Nets

Expected Starting Lineup & Summary

Kevin Garnett
Brook Lopez
Alan Anderson
Joe Johnson
Deron Williams

Truth be told, I own two pieces of Nets merchandise. And before you ask, I purchased both before the Paul Pierce trade. I was really excited about the Nets move to Brooklyn. Brooklyn's a pretty cool area. Their jerseys were cool. Their arena was cool (even if it kind of looks like a gigantic UFO from outside). And they were partially owned by Jay-Z, who fancies himself as a pretty cool dude.

Here's the thing, though; the Nets aren't cool. They are, in fact, probably the least cool. And that kind of stinks.

The Knicks take a lot of flack for their personnel decisions, while the Nets fly under the radar. That might because for some reason the Knicks franchise is treated like royalty despite being mostly irrelevant since inception, but it also might be because there's at least something to talk about when it comes to the Knicks.

The Nets, on the other hand, are just kind of there. Heavily invested in a young big who can't and probably never will stay healthy, an exceptionally good complimentary player whose paid like a super-duper star, and a 'franchise' point guard who might not actually be any good. They mortgaged their future on that core, and are now paying the ultimate price for it. Stuck without picks, or cap flexibility, the Nets figure on just being here for the next few seasons.

Dunk of 2013/14

Jeez, even that's kind of sad, huh?

New Faces, New Places

Key Additions: Jarrett Jack, Bojan Bogdanovic, Lionell Hollins
Key Losses: Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Marcus Thornton, Andray Blatche, Jason Kidd

People will be quick to point out the loss of Shaun Livingston. And it's true,  Livingston was a rare bright spot for the Nets last season and he was tremendous force in the post for them, which allowed them another look to their offense.

But Jarrett Jack is more than a suitable replacement. He's prone to a few bad shots a game, and occasionally forgetting his spot in the pecking order (which was particular painful in Golden State), but he's a very good shot creator, who can play and defend both guard positions, and occasionally get really, really hot. He's not the same type of player as Livingston, but he can probably replace his production.

Paul Pierce, as you may know, is not nearly as irreplaceable. Because although he is a year older, Paul Pierce still does Paul Pierce things.

Pierce averaged roughly 13.5 points per game (on .451 shooting from the field, .373 from distance), 4.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game last season. Only assists were down from his usual per 36 numbers. His willingness to play the power forward position allowed the Nets to play both big and small. And, when needed, he did things like this 

But I think where the Nets will miss Pierce the most is off the court. As a player told NetsDaily, he wasn't just a leader, he was 'the unquestioned' leader of the Brooklyn Nets. Things are going to get tough for the Nets this year. They just will. What scares me about them is that I'm not sure they've got a guy who will refuse to lie down when they will. Garnett would be an obvious candidate, but he's been oddly sheepish in the few interviews he's given this year. And even then, it's hard to be a full-on 'leader' when he can't consistently play 20 minutes a night.

Past that? Deron Williams has always been the first guy to try and get off a sinking ship, Joe Johnson seems perfectly content with mediocrity, and Andre Kirilenko's probably too busy thinking about his annual hall pass to be bothered with caring about wins and losses.

Thing People Aren't Talking About Enough: Free KG

In all likelihood, this will mark the final season of Kevin Garnett's career. While he still is capable of providing an impact on the defensive end, he can't consistently play even 20 minutes a night, and struggled horribly from the field last season. He'll deservably go down as an all-time great, but people like me will always wonder 'what if?'

KG's the best team player I've ever seen. And its a collossal bummer to know that he only got to spend 18 months of his prime with a cast in Boston that deserved his talents. People will be quick to point out that Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell had a few good seasons with him in Minnesota. Which is true. Yes, they were good. But 'good' in the sense where they deserved to be mentioned in the conversation when it came to All-Star candidates, certainly not 'good' as in great. Or as is the case for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, certainly not 'good' in the sense that they'll one day be inducted to the Hall of Fame.

It's fucking depressing to think that in the middle of a title defense, on the best team he'll ever play with, something happened one night in Utah and his career was never truly the same.

So we can't let him end his career on this team. We can't allow Adam Silver to keep spending his time thinking of ways to stop the Philadelphia 76ers from tanking, he needs to turn his attention to figuring out a way to get the Big Ticket to a relevant team.

Padraic O'Connor's 'Will They Make A Trade?'

Last season, the Brooklyn Nets were going all in. A loaded roster that featured Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, AK47, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee, Shaun Livingston, and Jason Terry being led by Nets legend and brand new head coach Jason Kidd. On paper in 2013, that was a contending team in the Eastern Conference. In actuality, Kevin Garnett has some trouble getting started, Lopez and Williams had trouble staying healthy, Jason Terry was kind of directionless, and Jason Kidd went to war with his GM, the fans, and his “must have” assistant coach Lawrence Frank for the entire first half of the season.

The shining spots of the roster were Paul Pierce and Shuan Livingston. Pierce, who was looking forward to being in a supporting role with Brooklyn, covered a lot of ground for his new team and Shaun Livingston rebirthed his career. Both players are now in Washington and Golden State respectively, Jason Kidd scorched the earth all the way to Milwaukee and seemingly everyone in the Nets organization is looking at their options on how to get out. But still… they play in the Atlantic Division. Even with a roster full of guys who have trouble staying on the court, they’re in playoff contention.

The Nets have to be looking at how they can rebuild without having to do a massive fire sale. They have to. So many of their picks over the next three years are tied up in other deals, their roster is aging very fast, and their mega high payroll isn’t netting the results they’d hoped to achieve.

I would be on the lookout for Brooklyn to move some assets by the All-Star Break, if they can find a buyer. A guy like Deron Williams can probably still fetch some assets from the right squad, and the Nets would be smart to entertain offers. He is owed $63M ($19M this season) over the next three years, so if any team comes calling, they’re going to pick up the phone.

All of the other assets on the Nets that could be moved (Plumlee, Jack, Lopez) are guys the Nets would be better off keeping. If this were a few years ago and Jay Z was still a minority owner of the team, I’d say Brooklyn was between THE ROC and a hard place… but not even a pun that great works on this team now.


Mike Dyer's 'Scorching Hot Take'
The Nets are going to be the most boring League Pass team in the league

Joe Johnson isos. Brook Lopez and Deron Williams missing a combined 60+ games. KG playing out the string of his career. The quietest crowd in the league. Lionel Hollins' "don't shoot threes" offense. A projected 41-41 finish by Vegas. My God, this is going to be one of the most boring teams of all-time.

While the Sixers are the easy choice for most boring league pass team, at least their awfulness is something interesting to watch. The Nets are going to be neither good nor bad, their roster has nothing interesting on it, and they have no real "players to watch" outside of Miles Plumlee.

The good news for Celtics fans is that this is the last season until 2019 (!!) that the Nets won't be worth watching for draft pick reasons. So hopefully Johnson, Williams and Lopez squeeze every last bit of usefulness out of their systems this season. Even if they do it in the most boring way possible.

Nets Over/Under: 40.5

Richissin: Under
O'Connor: Under
Dyer: Over