Loss Highlights Long-Term Nets Concerns

After an excellent start under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo, the Brooklyn Nets have now hit the skids, going 3-5 in their last 8 games, with two of the five losses coming to teams below .500. Prior to this rough patch, the Nets were 17-0 against teams below that mark. After an 89-74 shellacking at the hands of the 14-35 Washington Wizards, the team looks starkly different from the one that blew out the Oklahoma City Thunder five weeks ago. There’s much blame to be shelled out for their lackluster play as of late; do you blame the players, the coaches, or the G.M.?

Blame all of them.

The players. No matter the system or the coach, there is no excuse to lack energy, competitive spirit, and leadership on and off the court. “We’ve talked about energy and effort a lot this year, and that’s something that should always be there,” Deron Williams said after the game. “We should always have effort. … Maybe this wasn’t a big game for us, but maybe it should’ve been.”

The coach. Another issue, perhaps the biggest, is the case of fitting philosophy with personnel. It’s been well documented that a point guard in Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s system will flourish. It’s also been the case that a point guard in Avery Johnson/PJ Carlesimo’s system, from Devin Harris to now Deron Williams, will not put up numbers similar to what they are capable of. With very little ball movement, very little ball screening, very little spacing, it’s hard for talented point guards to operate.

The system this season involves a ton of dribbling and isolations; something that if you were to watch a team like the Spurs, you would see very little of (how ironic the coaches are from the “Spurs” mold). By sticking to this system, the Nets coaching staff has wasted the supreme talent of what was once a top PG in the NBA.

Even though Carlesimo is a new voice that the players may enjoy playing for more than that of Avery Johnson, the principles are still the same. For all the comparison between the resurgence of Carmelo Anthony under former interim Knicks coach Mike Woodson and the recent resurgence of Deron Williams under Carlesimo, there is one point that is consistently being missed -– Woodson’s system is a near polar opposite than that of Mike D’Antoni’s, while P.J. Carlesimo has “barely tweaked” the offensive system from Avery Johnson.

The G.M. General Manager Billy King put together a roster full of talent, but with numerous holes. Perhaps the biggest hole is the lack of a starting power forward. When the Nets gave Kris Humphries $24 million over two years, they almost certainly had the words “trade bait” in mind. But they also assumed (and miscalculated) that Humphries would be a capable starter on a good team. Now they are left with the task of trying to move what may be an attractive contract, but an extremely unproductive player along with it. One name that has come up is Ben Gordon. It is true that the Nets could use a shooter and scorer off the bench similar to Gordon, but as Zach Lowe of Grantland tweeted last night, “A team paying its three perimeter starters $47M combined this season really should not have to cash in a trade chip for a perimeter player.”

Things will get better. Players and coaches will adapt, personnel may be moved, and the Nets may get back to their November/January form. But each game highlights a specific set of strengths and weaknesses this Nets team has; when the strengths outweigh the weaknesses, things go well, but more often than not lately that hasn’t been the case.


  1. Nice Article Max. We agree that BK should trade for Ben Gordon. I would also like to get Tyler Hansbrough.

    Trade 1
    Gordon for Hump

    Trade 2
    Hansbrough for Watson and Brooks

    Brooks and Watson would be rendered moot by the Gordon acquisition. I would rather the Nets go through the growing pains of letting Taylor develope because he has elite athleticism and adds the abilty to attack the rim. He can also be a very good defender. Some interesting stats on Taylor from Kansas

    – Held opponents to 18.6% FG in ISOs
    – Held PnR ball-handlers to 21.7% FG

    As far as my interest in Psycho T, he is just the type of personality we need. Nets are too soft inside and he would instantly improve our defense in the paint where teams are abusing the Nets. Sometimes you need to send a message that any dunk or layup is coming with some bruises and cuts.

    1. I think you’re down-playing the fact that a) A coaching staff who has not given their rookie PG over 20 minutes in a game once this season (averages less than 5 MPG for the season) would just accept that he would be the backup PG going forward b) They have said they like to carry 3 PG’s c) They operate as a veteran team whether we like it or not. No play for Tyshawn, Marshon, Toko, Mirza this season. d) Taylor still has a ton of learning to be done and I don’t believe he’s ready for consistent minutes in the NBA

      It’s very questionable as to why they have kept him in this holding pattern this season. If he’s not going to play anything but garbage minutes, then send him down to Springfield until a) he’s ready or b) there’s an injury of some sort. Same goes for Toko.

      I do agree that it basically renders Marshon Brooks useless. Maybe Brooks would get us a serviceable PF in return, maybe not, but as for Hansbrough, I don’t see the playoff bound Pacers just looking to dump off a young backup PF, who, as you said, brings lots of energy to a team.

      1. I think Watson plays more then Taylor beause he is the 2nd best shooter on the team. He is far from a PG he is a horrible playmaker. He is only averaging 3.3 Assists/36 min. That’s bad.

        Bringing in Gordon would lesson the dependency on Watson for shooting. You might be right that PJ wouldnt play a rookie like Taylor at backup PG but the Nets could bring in a vet like Derrick Fisher who they were interested in before the season started. Id rather go the Taylor rout though because I think he has a high upside and can run the floor at an elite level.

        As far as why the Pacers would trade Hansbrough, they dont have a problem at PF like the Nets do. David West has been great this year and they younger guys they might want to develope. Hansbrough is a 27 year old RFA who I dont see them retaining. Better to get something for him then let him walk.

        Dont forget that the Pacers were set to take Brooks in the draft. The Spurs stepped in last minute offering them Indiana HS legend George Hill because K Leonard fell in that draft. The Pacers have been searching for a SG all season. Green and Stephenson have both failed as starters. I dont see them putting George back to SG when Granger comes back. If they traded for Brooks they could move Granger for a PF to replace Hansbrough. I expect the Pacers to be active this trade deadline because as a small market team, they need to clear out bad salary to resign David West.

        1. They are a playoff bound team with a high seed in the East without their star player. I don’t see them being active looking to break up what they feel is a team that can compete with Miami when healthy.

          Also, your too worried about Watson. The Nets have much deeper issues such as a coach.

          1. Players win games, not coaches. Blaming the coach is a way of deflecting blame from the real problems.

            DWill got paid max $ and gets outplayed on a daily basis. It’s not PJ out there getting burnt repeatedly on PnRs

            Wallace got big money and is regressing as a defender and rebounder. It’s not PJ getting beat like a drum defensively.

            Mirza got the MLE and is an absolute bust. It’s not PJ out there shooting Airball after Airball.

            Hump got a huge payday and is invisible out there when he plays. At least with Hump we might be able to salvage those dollars into production.

            NBA coaches have the least amount of impact on a teams success then in any other sports. The blame falls completely on the players who are fat and happy with their long term guaranteed contracts.

  2. Great read, although I must point out that apparently Lowe’s tweet wasn’t about the Nets (a fan hinted at them and Lowe said “I think you’re talking about the wrong team”). Still, their perimeter players have been disappointing at best, and your point about Avery/PJ’s system was spot on. The Nets should look for a coach with a more point guard-centric offensive system this offseason. As for the starting PF issue, I think we should at least give Blatche a chance at starting PF before we deal Humphries. I don’t get why he hasn’t been given a chance yet; I think Blatche has much more upside as a starter than either Evans or Humphries

    1. Yea, Lowes tweet could apply to either us or the Bucks I think (talking about Reddick), but it’s still a perplexing concept.

      The thing with Blatche starting is thathe’s our only backup center. Nobody else can even remotely play backup center. The Nets want to keep Lopez’s minutes down as well and if you saw in the 1st Q last night, Blatche subbed in directly for Lopez.

      Add to it the fact that he is looking worse and worse with every passing day, taking more shots outside of the paint then he should ever dream about, I think that it’s best for him to remain on the bench.

      1. You’rw right, Blatche has looked bad of late, but the man has a staggering 22 PER on the season. I think he’s at least earned a couple lf starts to show what he’s got, how could they fully assess the PF spot without turning over ever possible stone? They definitely need to add more size though, and they may have to ask Brook to take on heavier minutes. All they really need is a guy close to 7 feet tall that won’t totally embarass himself over around 12 minutes per game, and those guys are dime a dozen in the NBA. I say trade Humphries for Gordon and maybe try to acquire Brendan Haywood in the same trade. It likely wouldn’t cost them much and he’ be a solid backup big man.

        1. Blatche starting at PF and performing well will put him out of Nets signing range.

          Haywood would cost Nets a 1st rd pick.

          Bobcats would already be giving up too much in a straight up Humph for Ben trade.

          Do you expect them to throw in a real backup Center to sweeten the deal?

          Unless their GM is actually more stupid concerning the NBA than our GM is.

          1. If money’s the issue with Blatche, he’s already played his way out of the Nets’ spending limits, someone’s definitely gonna give him decent money and a chance to start this offseason. I’m more concerned with winning as soon as possible; this roster is built to win now, and right now Blatche definitely gives them a better chance than Humphries or Evans.

            I doubt the Bobcats would want a 1st rounder for Haywood, there’s no way he’s worth it. If the Nets can’t acquire him they can definitely find a decent backup for a second rounder.

            1. With every passing game I am truly doubting that Blatche may be out of reach this offseason in terms of what others will offer.

              Also if for some reason, Ben Gordon declines his Player Option next season if we acquire him, we’d be very close to being under the cap and being able to use exceptions that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

  3. You know, less than 10 years ago a not-overly-athletic team without a top 10 player won the NBA championship, crushing one of the greatest teams ever in the finals. And the coach of that team — who would be a Hall of Fame coach even without that — is now cooling his heels in college ball. He’s also a master of offensive flow, and has been known to make PGs step up.
    Yeah, he’d quit in two years, but they would be the best two years the Nets have had since the ABA days. And we’d be left with an actual system.

      1. Larry Brown couldn’t get Deron to do anything that Deron didn’t want to do, especially as LB is too old (as you mentioned), and doesn’t care enough about the NBA other than to pick up a large paycheck.

  4. Who are you calling a bad player? You do not know about life, and especially about the players like him. I hope thay trade Mirza to another team to show you all what the great player he is.
    DWILL-of-the-GODZ – Smartass!!!

    1. Nets need shooting. Mirza is a sharpshooter. Nets coaches have made Mirza, Brooks and Shengalia loose their confidence, as they have also done with Humph.

      The system has to change, as Nets are too slow and predictable, on offense and defense.

    2. @anthrax

      I know Mirza is a bum. Im not sure how that means I dont know about life.

      Trade him please!!!!! I love all of you #freemirza guys telling me how good he is only to watch him fall flat on his face.

        1. I know, you know, everyone knows

          Its like the 1st time watching Petro play. You know he will never be a good player

          Same goes for Mirza. 50 games into the season and ZERO impact

  5. We shall see if an interim coach, with his job on the line, speaks the truth after an incredibally humiliating loss in which his players performed in a manner that indicated that they seemed not to care about winning or losing.

    I hope you are correct.