The Thunder made a business decision when trading James Harden nine months ago. Now, they need to be just as cold-blooded with Scott Brooks. Brooks has consistently left points on the board in each of the last three seasons and has shown no ability to learn from his mistakes. Read More. Written by Jonathan Tjarks on May 17, 2013
With Mikhail Prokhorov moving the Nets to Brooklyn, he vowed to challenge the New York Knicks for supremacy locally and the rest of the NBA for a title.
Prokhorov spared no expense to validate his proclamations last offseason by collecting over $300 million in guaranteed contracts. However, despite Billy King’s roster overhaul and an in-season coaching change, the Nets were unable to advance out of the first round of the playoffs.
Money couldn’t buy chemistry or consistency; something Brooklyn’s veteran core feels will improve next season.
“We were learning on the fly this season,” said Brook Lopez. “I think we learned a lot and we have a lot of offseason to really get to work out together, hammer a lot of things out that we didn’t do well this season and come back next year, learn some more together, and get some more wins.”
Lopez and his teammates will have more learning to do once training camp begins. King announced the Nets would not retain interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, which will have the Nets playing under their third coach in less than 12 months.
After obtaining the fourth seed and homecourt advantage in the first round against the Chicago Bulls, Lopez believes losing Game 7 at home will give Brooklyn extra motivation heading into the summer.
“It’s something for us to look at this offseason, a feeling to remember as we work out in the offseason,” said Lopez.
Despite spending much of the season developing chemistry, leading to subsequent consistency lapses, Deron Williams is encouraged by the glimpses Brooklyn showed of being a contender when clicking on all cylinders.
“We had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of turmoil and things to fight through, but we still had fun doing it,” said Williams. “I think this experience is going to make us tougher as a group. It’s a learning experience for all of us together, this being our first year together. We still have got a ways to go. We can be good and we’ve shown glimpses of being a really good team. I think the main thing is we were inconsistent as a group starting from the beginning of the season.”
Williams also noted that the Nets must become mentally tougher, but believes the current roster is capable.
“I think we have a great group of guys in the locker room,” said Williams. “We talked about the word inconsistency all season. I just think we need to find a way to be more consistent, especially mentally.”
After losing Game 3 by three points and losing Game 4 in triple overtime, Joe Johnson believes the Nets showed fight.
“We overcame a lot,” said Johnson. “Being down 3-1 in the series and being able to come back to send it to a Game 7 here on our home floor, we felt really good about it and we just came up short.”
With Brooklyn’s veteran core in tact, the Nets must hire a new coach capable of utilizing Williams’ strength in pick-and-roll sets, Johnson’s shooting ability, and Lopez’s expanding offensive repertoire on the block and in pick-and-pop sets.
While the Nets' core is secured contractually for the foreseeable future, the same cannot be said for the bench.
King’s main trade chips are Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks. Humphries enters the final year of his contract at $12 million and Brooks’ potential remains under control for two seasons on his rookie deal.
C.J. Watson has a player option for next season, while Andray Blatche, Keith Bogans and Jerry Stackhouse are unrestricted free agents.
With Brooklyn over the salary cap threshold, King may lose two of his most productive bench players. Blatche, Brooklyn’s only double-figure scorer off the bench, is expected to be too costly for the Nets to re-sign.
Watson, who often played alongside Williams, may use his opt-out clause in his deal for a long-term deal elsewhere.
It is imperative for the Nets to sustain the chemistry they developed this season and translate it into consistency next season to fulfill Prokhorov’s goals.
The key to the Brooklyn Nets' Game 5 win over the Chicago Bulls, and maintaining that momentum for Game 6 on the road is aggressiveness.
The Nets were led by strong performances from Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, along with strong bench play from Andray Blatche, Kris Humphries and C.J. Watson.
“We came out very aggressive as we have the past few games,” said Lopez. “I think the difference was just that we sustained it for essentially a full 48 minutes tonight and we really came together as a team. I think we really played through the entire shot clock and really turned our good looks into great looks.”
Lopez has been an interior force for the Nets, ranking second in blocked shots during the playoffs (3.4) and sixth in scoring average (23.6). Lopez's 28 points was his highest output of the series.
“You could see the look in his eyes tonight, he had it going,” said Williams. “He was rebounding the ball. He was scoring the ball. He’s been great defensively for us all series with his blocked shots and clogging up the paint. He was just a monster tonight.”
Williams took advantage of the injury to Kirk Hinrich and was able to penetrate through Chicago’s strong side defense to finish with 23 points and 10 assists. Williams was aggressive attacking Nate Robinson off the dribble and attempted 10 free throws.
“You know Kirk is a good defender,” said Williams. “You know he’s tough. He fouls, he gets into you. You know he does what he’s supposed to do; he tries to get under your screen. It’s definitely a different look between Nate and Kirk.”
While Brooklyn was anchored by Lopez and Williams, the play of Blatche, Humphries and Watson should not be overlooked.
“We got a huge lift off the bench from Andray Blatche, Kris Humphries and C.J. Watson in particular,” said P.J. Carlesimo.
Blatche led the bench in scoring with 13 points.
“My main thing was I wanted to get the ball into the paint and be aggressive, not settle for jump shots,” said Blatche. “I tried to stay in attack mode and I was successful doing it.”
Humphries led the bench with six rebounds while Watson scored 11 points.
“We just came out aggressive,” said Watson. “We came out desperate for a win and that’s how we played.”
As Brooklyn heads to Chicago for Game 6, there are some interesting statistics to keep in mind. The Nets have won both games in the series at home while shooting over 50 percent from the field and scoring more points in the paint than the Bulls.
“We’ve just got to remember everything we did tonight,” said Blatche. “Don’t take anything for granted. Go out there and be as aggressive as possible on defense and bring our own energy to Chicago and we should be successful with that.”
According to Watson, Brooklyn must improve down the stretch to win Game 6.
“Just stay aggressive offensively and defensively and once we get a lead, try to close it out and get a win,” said Watson.
Gerald Wallace said the Nets must take the Bulls out of their comfort zone early on the road.
“We have to stay aggressive,” said Wallace. “Right now, it’s win or go home. I think they were expecting to go back to Chicago. I think they felt more comfortable playing in Chicago. We just have to go in, play our 48-minute game, and steal one in Chicago.”
Joe Johnson believes Brooklyn’s Game 5 win may give the team enough momentum for the rest of the series.
“I still think we have a chance to come back and win this series,” said Johnson. “On saying that, we really need to buckle down in Game 6 and leave it all out there on the line like we did tonight.”
The Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets finished the regular season ranked as two of the slowest paced teams in the league, preferring to operate in halfcourt sets. As much as anything the series appears to be shaping up to be defined by health and interior scoring.
Brooklyn had the third slowest pace in the league (88.76) followed by Chicago ranking the fourth slowest (89.35).
However, Brooklyn appears to have an advantage on the interior due to the ailing health of Joakim Noah.
Noah is battling plantar fasciitis in his right foot, which gave Tom Thibodeau cause for concern on the eve of the series.
“There will be some restrictions on him,” said Thibodeau before Game 1.
While Noah has dealt with the injury previously during his career, there’s no timetable for his recovery and his current status is day-to-day.
“It’s the type of injury where you don’t know how he’s going to feel the next day,” said Thibodeau.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn headed into the postseason relatively unscathed.
“I think we’re as healthy as we’ve been in a long time,” said P.J. Carlesimo. “Maybe it’s wrong to say Joe (Johnson), Gerald (Wallace), or (Keith) Bogans are 100 percent healthy, but they’re better than they’ve been. Collectively we’re in better shape than we’ve been in a long time so that’s a positive.”
With Noah’s effectiveness limited, Carlesimo wants use his center tandem of Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche to wear down a depleted Bulls' frontcourt.
“We want to go inside regardless,” said Carlesimo. “We want to go to Brook (Lopez), we want to go to Blatche whether Joakim (Noah) is there or Nazr (Mohammed).”
The tandem worked well in Game 1 as Brooklyn received a combined 33 points on 13-for-26 shooting from Lopez and Blatche. The tandem took a noticeable toll on Noah.
“(Noah) was tired,” said Reggie Evans. “He did good for the little time that he played. It seemed like he hurt himself again, that’s what it looked like to me.”
While Noah’s health has declined towards the latter stages of the season, Deron Williams has dramatically improved since the All-Star break. Williams received a third set of cortisone shots in both ankles, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatment, and cleansed his body with a juice diet.
According to Evans, Williams has rediscovered his “lift” and has played like an elite point guard ever since.
“He’s looking good,” said Evans of Williams. “He’s looking like he’s supposed to be, one of the top point guards in the league.”
While Brooklyn made a dramatic statement in Game 1, the series is far from over.
“It’s going to be a tough physical series,” said C.J. Watson. “We’ve got to go out there and match their intensity, match their toughness, and play hard every possession.”
Jerry Stackhouse has been a valued teammate providing tutelage as a coach on the floor and quality minutes at small forward when called upon. In the midst of his 18th season, Stackhouse has maintained his physique to keep up with the young legs of players who watched him growing up.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the team with the best player has the advantage in a seven-game series, which could bode well for the Nets. Deron Williams has been playing great as of late, perhaps only surpassed by Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James in the Eastern Conference in terms of individual performance.
Everything goes back to the Nets' fateful decision to acquire Deron Williams in 2011. Right now, in 2013, would you rather have Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and no cap room, or Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Damian Lillard, Lopez and room for a max player?
Avery Johnson knew his message was wearing on his players. He understood that the locker room tuned him out, and still the coach begged everyone to give him and these Nets some time: We haven’t even reached the halfway point yet, Johnson would say.
It may seem like the Nets and Dodgers are operating irrationally, but you can’t evaluate their expenses without first considering their revenues. There’s a flood of money coming into professional sports; the other owners can only stem the tide for so long before soaring franchise values eventually wash them away.
The Nuggets, Lakers, Heat, 76ers and Nets were amongst the teams with great offseasons, while the Bucks, Magic, Suns, Knicks, Cavaliers and Bulls were in the bad column. Here's how all 30 teams have fared in the 2012 offseason.