The Nets have the 22nd pick, and thus will not be picking a franchise game-changer unless Billy King starts a rumor that Nerlens Noel’s ACL was replaced with margarine. That doesn’t matter, because this is a draft filled with role players who should be able to contribute if selected and developed properly.
P.J. Carlesimo, who was let go after the Nets lost to the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs (how long ago that was), is in the news today after giving a revealing conference call in which he hashed out his appreciation for his recently departed job while also outlining the difficulties in expecting to move forward so quickly. To wit:
* Even though he didn’t want to coach. But hey, he seems to have a certain respect for the job: “Well, the Brooklyn situation is a good situation,” he told The Dan Patrick Show. They just didn’t want to offer him a front office position—probably due to the recent extension given to Billy King—which is what he’s looking for. What might’ve been, alas, but who knows if P.J. could’ve done much with this clotted salary cap. I have a feeling the situation will seem even better in a few years.
“It was a weird, musky, cologne-y smell. I don’t really know if I liked it or didn’t like it, it just seemed odd. I guess it’s nicer than smelling fried food.”
— Who knew?
No one knows why, but apparently the Nets have added Scott Skiles to their coaching short list, according to the Racine Journal Times following a note that they’ve also amped up their interests in Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, whose contract expires at the end of the postseason (which may be a week from now, if they continue to look the same against the Spurs). Look, Skiles is the kind of righteous tough guy who whips rookies into shape and drags the most out of a superstar-less roster that’s just happy to kiss the playoffs. (His work with the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks was exemplary in that manner.) And yet it’s been proven again and again that eventually his scare tactics stop working, the players stop listening, and the ceiling stays flat at “first round exit,” or even better, “second round sweep.” If the Nets showed anything last year, it’s that they’re a collection of big contracts and the non-negligible egos that come with those contracts—whoever coaches them has to know how to massage those talents out rather than barking at them to get it together. That is not Scott Skiles, who never made an adjustment he didn’t like reversing and remaking an extra dozen times. Please, no.
It’s a bit odd for a team to come out and state their commitment to player development, which is a no-brainer along the lines of a chef saying food preparation is important. Improvement from within is the most efficient way for a team to get better, obviously, and yet P.J. Carlesimo stated it as one of the reasons why he wasn’t asked to return as the Nets coach, raising the confused and probably self-answering question of what Brooklyn’s young talent was doing for all those months.
What’s significant and revealing about the whole conversation, though, is that there should be any finger pointing at all within the team about the process. Player development is something of a communal effort where every rung in an organization’s hierarchy has some level of involvement, including the player in question. You only need look at the Chicago Bulls, who ended Brooklyn’s freshman trip to the playoffs, to see the trickle down effect. It’s easy to watch Jimmy Butler blossom in the postseason and wish we could be saying the same things about MarShon Brooks. Brooks, after all, was taken five spots ahead of Butler in the 2011 draft. They’re both wings, so it’s not unreasonable to think their draft day fates could have been reversed. How is it their professional trajectories have been very much opposites?
You knew this, because you have eyes and a brain and could connect the dots after Phil Jackson mentioned that a few teams had already contacted him about getting back into the NBA for next season and onward. But in an exit interview with The Dan Patrick Show, recently deposed interim coach P.J. Carlesimo confirmed that general manager Billy King is serious about reaching out to Jackson. From Mike Mazzeo’s report for ESPN New York:
The jokes were already popping on Twitter before the final buzzer sounded, when it became clear that the Brooklyn Nets weren’t shooting their way out of the last deficit they’d need to overcome in this series. This was what you got when your arena was built on displaced households, what you got when you overpaid your way into a playoff lineup after years of mediocrity. You got to lose at home in your fancy arena, sputtering out against a team missing half its starters that just seemed to want it more, cliches be damned, because they’d been here before and knew exactly what it takes, on some metaphysical level of “effort” and “energy,” to lift yourself out of an unfavorable situation.
They were jokes, yes, but they carried an edge that wasn’t so nice. That got me wondering why, Twitter bravado aside, people seemed to take pleasure in the Nets losing in a way that evaded Houston or Milwaukee’s playoff exit. It’s easy to make fun of this team because of their fancy arena, their fashion makeover, their invoking of Jay-Z for a few years so casual fans might think this team was cool, a sentiment that’s never needed to be overtly sold in the NBA. Players and teams are cool or not and here was Brooklyn, swaggering into NYC in their black and white uniforms and trying to snatch the crown from the Knicks, who despite not accomplishing much over the last decade are still the city’s premier team. It felt a little gaudy, and thus why not snark on those jokers when they let down in the biggest game of the season?
The gist of it
When a team goes down by 3-1 in a series they’re supposed to win, do they finally get over their problem and pull it together? The Nets are more talented than this injury-depleted Bulls roster, but they hadn’t shown the same militaristic temerity before falling into the series deficit. Now, they’ve evened things up after two games in which they clawed and pulled toward the very end, riding rises and slumps in play toward narrow victories in which unlikely heroes have reared their heads and superstars in repose have justified their contracts.
Because the Westboro Baptist Church is less a religious organization than a bubble of close-minded bigots hanging onto their pipe dream of a culturally anesthetized America, they will be protesting tonight’s Game 6 in Chicago. Why? They’re just hopping mad that P.J. continues to play Reggie Evans over Andray Blatche.
No, but really: it’s because the Nets didn’t condemn former player Jason Collins for coming out as gay, instead releasing a series of earnestly supportive statements from those who’d played with him in previous seasons. The indignity! I’d advise any attending Chicagoans to just laugh and laugh and laugh rather than trying to parry the protesters with any kind of logic, because sometimes a wet blanket is the best cure for a homophobic fire.