Being a New Jersey Nets fan is not a fun thing. It’s actually quite brutal. From the last place finishes to the depressing former home at the Izod Center – it’s been a rough ride lately. The most exciting thing to happen to us in recent years is actually something that didn’t happen at all – when we managed to NOT set the mark for worst record of all time in 2010.
The 2011-2012 New Jersey Nets’ struggles have been so bad and the Izod Center was such a dump that you couldn’t give away tickets……Literally, I tried. A few seasons ago, I was writing for a popular Nets blog and the team gave me a couple thousand dollars worth of free tickets to give to my readers. Good seats too — I was able to give away maybe 2/3rds of them.
The Nets have a totally new look (but same terrible and confusing red uniforms), and I expect the same old results. Deron Williams is a very good player, but without another superstar he’s not making it to Brooklyn – and I’m not sure we should have gotten rid of Devin Harris for the short-term rental. Brook Lopez is not only hurt, but also now pissed off as a result of that pursuit to bring Dwight Howard here. So what did we do to seal up the interior in the meantime? We signed 7-footer Mehmet Okur, who in seven starts has yet to attempt a free throw.
Good job front office.
Lets talk about those previously complained about red-uni’s for a second. When did the Nets become red? I mean, I know it was years ago – but why? What happened to blue and silver? They essentially took an ugly alternate jersey that no one liked and kept it around ever since and haven’t even reconsidered it through one of the worst stretches in professional sports history. This has yet to be explained to me.
We do have some positives as far as the roster goes though. Kris Humphries is a good player, but he’s effectively ruined his career on the E! network – much more booing to follow. For a guy who wasn’t even on the roster before the season, and gets jeered every time he touches the ball, he’s actually leading the team in FG% and rebounding. But generally speaking, if the worst thing about this season of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” is the best thing about your team’s NBA season – you’re in trouble.
MarShon Brooks has had a really nice start to his career, hopefully he and Lopez can eventually become the core of an 8th seed team. Anthony Morrow is also having a nice season so far, essentially doing exactly what was expected of him – which may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but around here we take what we can get.
While the move to Brooklyn will make it nearly impossible for me to get to from Jersey, for the team itself, the new lodging should be a great improvement. The Prudential Center in Newark is already a huge upgrade from the depressing Izod Center, and the Atlantic Yards Project is marketed to be a state-of-the-art facility. It’d be nice if in the meantime we don’t give away all of our future draft picks.
I’m unsure where I stand on ownership at this point. Mikhail Prokhorov certainly keeps things interesting, but is crazy enough to do just about anything – including running for President of Russia while trying to move a major sports franchise and open a huge development project. I have no idea if it would be good or bad for the team if he won the election, but as with everything Russian/American — I hope it plays out like the end of Rocky IV. And then there’s Jay-Z. Jay-Z is the face of the franchise, but what few people realize is that I own about as much of the Nets as he does.
As of this writing, the Nets are 3-9 and in last place in the Atlantic Division, which is familiar territory. The only wins we have are against the one-win pathetic Washington Wizards (who are lucky this is a shortened season or they’d be chasing the aforementioned futility record), the lame duck Toronto Raptors, and the Phoenix Suns who were without Steve Nash and Grant Hill. It looks to be a long season for myself and the six other NJ Nets fans, but that’s OK – we’re used to it.
So what (if anything) can be done to right this ship? Well it starts by convincing D. Will to re-sign – but that is contingent on getting someone else on board. So I guess where is actually starts is by finishing off this Dwight Howard deal. I don’t love it, but it’s one of the better options remaining, and the internal damage has already been done within both organizations.
So why don’t I love it? (And how many more questions am I going to ask myself?) Howard is a great defensive player, but Brook Lopez is an all-star caliber big man who’s worse defensively, almost a wash offensively, and significantly better at the free throw line. Giving up a ton of draft picks for that kind of upgrade with no guaranteed extension for D. Will could set the franchise back even further.
At this point I imagine Lopez is spending his season at home feeling insecure about how it all went down, which can ruin the psyche of a young, immature player. There is little else out there this year that would fit, and still allow us to complete (also with David Stern vetoing perfectly reasonable trades). It’s not a particularly hot market right now, and going to a perennial loser with whacky management and an unfinished home in a totally unknown market is a hard sell. Just finish the Superman deal that you already bumbled and move on.
If the blockbuster Howard trade doesn’t go down, when you get to Brooklyn — blow it all up again. We’re not going to compete now, and we’re not one or probably even two players away anyway. So Plan B: Stockpile drafts picks and hope that the change of scenery is enticing to players and fans. I would love to be a little more absolute, but I have no idea how different (if at all) the Brooklyn Nets will be. BK is an unknown commodity, there is no stability within the organization, and no one can tell with any certainty what the future looks like. I wouldn’t say it’s bright, but it could be “dawnish”. Either way, as they say, change is good. Because also as they say, the Nets are not.