On the Wide Range of Predictions

What can often get tedious about the summer off-season is the endless amount of speculating. Most of the significant roster moves and changes were made weeks ago and with the season still a few months away, there’s not much NBA followers can do except interpret and reinterpret the same storylines until actual ball is played and the prognosticators are either proven right or wrong.

With that said, something I’ve found fascinating this summer is the perception of how the Nets have fared in their roster construction and what their long-term prospects are. In the various posts and columns that have been published since the Nets traded Vince Carter in June, there have been two themes that tie these posts together:

1. The Nets are going to be pretty bad in 2009-10.

2. The Nets will have significant salary relief headed into next summer.

But all opinions beyond that have been varied and unpredictable.

Two recent articles that were brought to my attention include the Chris Bernucca’s previews over at Pro Basketball News and a Scott Howard-Cooper column over at Sports Illustrated. One seems to paint the Nets as a red tag yard sale in process, and the other as a team with a bright future.

Bernucca’s piece in particular seems to be a series of contradictions. In one breath, the analysis calls the Nets unloading of Vince Carter its “smartest move” because it adds a building block in Courtney Lee. Then, as a “sleeper move,” the piece talks about how the expiring contracts of Tony Battie and Rafer Alston, also acquired in the trade, could make for a good trading pieces. Sounds like a good off-season right? Wrong. Bernucca grades the team an average “C” and quips that with the Nets financial woes, “everything must go.” It’s not exactly the most inspiring sentiment to be associated with this team, though I guess it could have been worse.

Over at SI, Howard-Cooper gives me the warm and fuzzies , where he says despite the mess that is the move to Newark Brooklyn, the Nets “have continued to grow something, and something with potential at that.” He adds that the Nets have had a “productive off-season.” Echoing those sentiments is Daniel Lerouz at RealGM who says the Nets have had the third-best off-season deserving “heaps of praise.”

Can a team be both having a firesale and have a productive off-season? There are obviously elements to truth in both opinions, though I think the firesale scenario would be more true if the team was shedding contracts like Devin Harris or dumping a potential upside guys like Yi Jianlian for some old, overpriced expiring contract. There does seem to be an actual blueprint here, and it’s not necessarily the “Lebron or bust” strategy being employed by the Knickerbocker folks across the river (or up the street from my vantage).

I’ll be curious to see what some of the final predictions are for the Nets when all of the mainstream sources released their preview issues in October because leading up to the start of the season, I can’t ever remember there being such polarizing views about the state of the Nets. Or maybe my brain has just been numbed by reading too many pre-pre-season predictions.