Where Do The Nets Go From Here?

Where Do The Nets Go From Here?

By: NBASCOUT / Special to netsinteractive.com

The New Jersey Nets are at something of a crossroads. Falling to the Denver Nuggets the other night, they are on pace to set a record for the most losses to open a season: 18. Still, how significant a statistic is that?*

The Nets also lost to Portland and now they play the Kings Friday and if they lose they can tie the NBA record of 17 straight defeats to start a season on the road and set the record against the Lakers Sunday in L.A. Two teams have opened 0-17: the 1988-89 Heat and 1998-99 Clippers.

Well, if you consider that the coach hasn\’t been playing with a full and workable roster due to a raft of injuries most nights and the team is integrating new talent: Not so bad, all things considered. I mean, after all, what is 0-14 compared with 1-13 or 2-12? Not much, huh?!

I mean if the players are \’mailing in the season,\’ why get \’bent out of shape\’ over a few meaningless numbers, right? For all intents and purposes the season is already meaningless in the W-L department if the Nets don\’t get it together at some point and start winning. The odds are it will happen sooner or later.

What isn\’t meaningless is that the Nets are moving to Brooklyn. The court handed ownership a major victory the other day paving the way for construction of a new arena.

A normally sensible writer (that shall remain nameless as a matter of etiquette) recently regressed to a \’blame outgoing ownership for the mess\’ mode and cast blame on the ownership and organization in favor of player political sensibilities going back to the decision not to re-sign former Net PF Kenyon Martin as proof of outgoing ownership\’s failures. Prior to last night\’s game, K-Mart duly complied with the process by taking an obligatory parting shot at Bruce Ratner. I digress!

Because of his knee problems, Kenyon Martin was ineffective for a long time in Denver. Re-signing or retaining him would have proven a disaster for the Nets, both financially and on the court. One of the best moves the Nets ever made was letting K-Mart go. He\’s not the player he was. Similar arguments could be made for letting Kidd, Carter and/or Jefferson make happy trails to new venues.

Indeed, cleaning house was one of the best things the Nets have done in a long time. The result: Two cornerstone building blocks in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris and some great young talent in Terrence Williams, Courtney Lee and Chris Douglas-Roberts along with the cap space to lure a franchise player or two in his prime next offseason.

The only regret might be that sending PF Ryan Anderson off probably cost the team a bunch of victories this season as his starting quality and backup depth at the Power Forward slot made a big difference. Yi\’s durability is in question and while their talents overlapped, the depth was important.

In addition to Anderson\’s departure, Carter\’s departure and Bostjan Nachbar\’s departure also cut into the offensive firepower the team used to command. Still, the young players have only begun to learn to play with one another.

Ultimately, it appears that playing for what increasingly appears to be a lame duck coach and owner becomes the root of the malaise. Coach Lawrence Frank\’s \’shelf life\’* may soon expire in New Jersey if he can\’t coax a few more wins (any will do) out of this hapless bunch sooner than later.

When deep-pocketed Norlisk Nickel Magnate Mikhail Prokhorov formally takes over, watch the change in the sense of urgency. If rumors are correct, kick-starting the team may be a GM Kiki Vandeweghe-to-the-bench interim coaching change. It could pay handsome dividends if that happens. Kiki is one heck of a teacher and basketball mind.

Right now, the Nets are playing without organization and purpose, though the effort is often credible. Wait \’til a new coach is in place.

While it is a shame to potentially see a good coach like Lawrence Frank depart, \’the handwriting seemed to have been on the proverbial wall\’ after the drastic coaching cutbacks made during the offseason led to the departures of Mssrs. Hill and Rogers. As often is the case, sometimes coaching personalities become stale and lose effect on a team. Then some form of a change breathes fresh life into a ball club. Heck, you\’ll remember that even the Lakers let Pat Riley go. We all know that Pat Riley is a darn good coach.

As to the roster, the Nets need a reliable Power Forward to pair up with Brook Lopez. Perhaps, a SWAT-Boone-Yi-Battie multi-headed-hydra fills the bill? And, then again: Maybe not! Nevertheless, the Nets have many picks in a good draft.

What this all means is that all the hope and promise of a \”New Deal\” is on the way for Nets fans. It means that they will be contenders for LeBron and others.

For the time being it appears that Nets fans will have to suffer the \’growing pains.\’

No blame … Just gain! That\’s my creed!

*Postcript Addendum: It should be noted that there is one positive if Lawrence Frank remains at the helm for the duration of the season and the players continue to lose: \”The Nets may set a record for losses.\” If that happens, New Jersey will be well-positioned to snag the top pick in the NBA draft. If they secure some good talent from the upcoming draft, it is possible that all their weaknesses will be addressed and the Nets could then develop into one of the best teams in the NBA – whether or not they sign a high-priced free agent!

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 2009 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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