Dry Rot 11.27.07

DRY ROT

By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

The Nets just lost to Memphis at home after a three-game winning streak inherited from their successful road trip. So much for their turning things around!*

The problem here is that the Nets need to get out to a fast start. Meanwhile, the coach is still experimenting with lineups, which should have been settled upon already (either in the preseason or about by now).

If he wants to win, he has to have a clear strategy about how he\’s going to utilize and deploy his personnel. It has to be a winning strategy!

Sometimes, you can\’t afford to experiment. Other times you can, but must still do so within a winning context (… of overall personnel deployment).

The aforesaid, is hard to do for many young coaches. However, ultimately, you have to put the best players out on the floor at any given time, and especially when the game is on the line.

Sometimes, you have to go with what\’s worked the night before. Now the Nets beat the vaunted Lakers one night, for three straight victories in a row, and then somehow lose at home to the lowly Memphis Grizzlies?

Memphis is not a bad team. They have some talent.

Pau Gasol, Damon Stoudamire, Juan Navarro and Kyle Lowry are \’clutch.\’ That\’s who they lost to!

Still, New Jersey should have been up for them! They know that they\’ve got to keep winning!

As you all know, New Jersey gets out to notoriously slow starts each year. Then they start digging out and clawing back to .500. Once there, they go on a few winning streaks.

If all goes well, the Nets wind up with 40+ wins and a playoff berth. Then they go about as far as their talent and coaching will take \’em.

They seemed to \”let go of the rope\” (read: stop playing), however, when RJ was hurt in the second game of the semi-finals against MIA two years ago. Injuries haven\’t helped.

The Cliff Robinson drug suspension, RJ ankle injury and then the Krstic ACL put a damper on the next season. Shaq didn\’t help it when he acted like Bruce Bowen by putting his foot under RJ\’s landing that sent him ultimately to surgery.

The foregoing two paragraphs were the excuse for last year. So, what\’s the reason for this year?

Well … There\’s been a pattern of conduct. Maybe we can learn something from the previous years.

Let\’s see. Perhaps it is that the team doesn\’t want to spoil the owner? Maybe they don\’t want to work too hard … and deliver too many victories … too early … lest he expect too much?

Sometimes, employees lower the bar. They want everyone to conform to the lowest common denominator.

Look at Congress. The late Sonny Bono was described as a \”Boob\” by all accounts.

That didn\’t stop him from becoming influential and powerful. Usually, the least talented are promoted because they are a lesser threat to others.

The Boob theory suggests that soon everyone can play like the worst performer on the team. Everyone will be happy collecting their paychecks because the boss will expect nothing more out of them than what they can do. It is a means to lower the bar so far that nothing gets done. No winning product is put out on the floor!

This happens a lot in basketball. Yeah, look at some of the teams out there.

Sometimes, the more you pay for personnel … The more you lose!!! The Knicks of recent vintage are but one example, though, they may turn it around eventually.

Owner Donald Sterling learned this lesson a long time ago. His team is now the most profitable in the league.

Still, if there\’s no upside to the business, he may get out! You never know.

Portland\’s Paul Allen spent hundreds of millions. He eventually concluded that the business model is broken.

He\’s sticking with it for a while to see what happens. But, so far, all his moves aren\’t delivering a title contender.

So …What about the Nets? Well, as I said, there\’s been a discernible pattern.

Maybe they don\’t start playing until after the December 15 trade window opens and some find themselves still on the roster? Still, others may not start playing until it closes in February.

Some that like it in New Jersey are playing to stay. Others are playing to go.

Some are playing for a fatter new contract in Jersey. Others are playing for it elsewhere.

No matter what … Most of the money players make these days is guaranteed. If this owner won\’t sign a paycheck, others will!

Therefore, why care about how you perform? Once you\’re in the NBA – you\’re a millionaire.

If you last to your second contract, you become a mega-millionaire. If you make it to the third, you are super-rich!

This is how it works. Now can most fans get an \”honest days work for an honest days pay?\”

It all boils down to whether the players like it where they are … Or whether they feel at some point that the \’grass is greener\’ on the other side of the fence.

Still, other players are there to cause trouble or undermine team unity. Some control the outcome of games that determine a team\’s season.

Still others are always hurt … Or in the process of getting hurt. Though many injuries are legitimate, some are strategic.

In any event, the solution is not to throw money at the problem. It is to get value for the money you do spend.

The problem is: This pattern of slow regular season starts doesn\’t square with the kind of talent the club has. Maybe the issues run deeper?

Why can\’t most of New Jersey\’s big players hit free-throws? Why do they look like they\’ve apprenticed under Jason Collins who can hit his in practice, but, apparently, doesn\’t do so anymore in games?

Was it \”something that RJ said\” that got into Jason Collins\’ head a long time ago that causes him to under-shoot by historical standards from the line according to erstwhile Nets\’ pundit Dave D\’Alessandro? … Or is it something more?

Does the Power-Forward/Center position in New Jersey control the outcome of games with free-throw shooting and either great, mediocre or sloppy play? Does the early-season win-loss record defy logic?

How about credibility? Does the PF/C control the outcome of games as a \’swing\’ producer?

Cartels control production. They determine output.

Is the NBA what it was in the \’60s? … Or has something else taken hold?

NBASCOUT is an independent freelance sportswriter that covers the NBA and the New Jersey Nets. He is not affiliated with the National Basketball Association. Copyright 2007 by NBASCOUT, all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the express written consent of the author. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily this website. You may e-mail NBASCOUT in care-of his wife, who writes for children, at kathyforkids@cs.com.

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