Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.com had a post yesterday that got me thinking. In the post he ranked the Nets at 15th, last in the Eastern Conference, his reasoning is as follows:
While the young talent in New Jersey is a few years away from making them a competitive team, the additions this offseason were puzzling and won’t help the Nets improve the product they put on the floor in the immediate future. Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, and Travis Outlaw are talented role players but they’re not the big acquisitions that Nets’ fan were hoping for when this summer started. The team wanted to make a splash after missing out on James, Wade, and Bosh but their backup plan didn’t stack up to the ones put in place in Chicago or New York. The Nets will win more than twelve games this season but they’re still a couple years away from climbing up these rankings.
After praising the Nets for their young core, Kennedy moves on to the Nets offseason’, calling their moves puzzling. Kennedy’s reasoning is something that I have heard a lot from media members fans alike, and it is starting to bother me every time I read it (This isn’t just a personal attack on Alex Kennedy, love his stuff on Hoopsworld). What Kennedy does is he looks at where the Nets are at, and compares them to what Nets could have been (John Wall, LeBron, or at the very least Chris Bosh) and then says “look what they could have been, they have been awful this offseason!” They ignore the fact that the Nets have improved at just about every position while still having about $15 million in terms of cap space.
Look, the Nets have been unlucky this season, I get it. If the Nets end up winning the #1 pick and get John Wall, they perhaps sign LeBron James and are instant contenders. From that moment on, I assumed that LeBron wasn’t going to take his talents to Newark, and I was hoping for Chris Bosh. However, the stars aligned an all three of the big free agents signed with the Heat. While LeBron James (or to a certain extent Chris Bosh) on the Nets would have been fantastic, I think it is important not to judge the team the Nets have now to what could have been. What people should be doing is looking at the Nets from game 82 of last year and compare them to where they are at now, and that is a huge improvement.
While reading this, you guys can probably guess that I have been in favor of most of the team’s signings. The one I haven’t been is the hire of new GM Billy King. Billy King was pretty inept as the GM of the Philadelphia 76ers before being fired by them a few years ago. King was a surprise hire, especially with guys like Cho and Pritchard available. However, if you think about it for a moment, the hire does make some sense. First, there are reports that King is basically going to be a figurehead for the Nets with Avery Johnson actually calling the shots. I am ok with that, Johnson is the man coaching the team and he knows what their style will be, so it makes sense for him to have a hand in who the team brings in (in terms of personnel). The second thing to remember is that Billy King is basically going to be a stopgap for the Nets. Everyone knows that Mikhail Prokhorov wants to bring in his own GM from Russia, so why will Prokhorov bring in a guy like Cho or Pritchard who would be a longterm hire? The plan originally was going to be Rod Thorn staying aboard for another year or two and then transferring to Prokhorov’s guy. However, Thorn’s retirement threw a wrench into the plan, and the team was forced to scramble, leading to the hiring of King.
I guess what I am getting to in this rant is that the Nets are on the right track. Look from point A (the end of last year) to point B (right now) and the Nets are not only improved, but are younger, with cap space left over (for midseason acquisitions or next year). While the playoffs might not be in the plan for this year, the team is on their way to being a playoff team (and maybe even a contender) two to three years down the line.