In the summer of 2007 the Celtics needed to make a splash after failing to land one of the top two draft selections that year. Sending out seven players for a single player had never been done before in NBA history, but that’s exactly what Boston did, sending out a pair of number one draft choices, Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, and Theo Ratliff for Kevin Garnett. It immediately paid dividends as Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen marched to a 66-win regular season and the franchise’s 17th NBA Championship.
Now, it’s the Brooklyn Nets who are looking to take the next step into championship contention by swinging a mega-trade for the trash-talking, floor-slapping, head-banging, shot-swatting, larger-than-life force that is KG. In yet another blockbuster, Garnett was acquired (along with Paul Pierce and Jason Terry) for three future first round draft picks, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, and MarShon Brooks. The Nets are hoping Garnett can provide a similar impact on defense and the overall team culture as he did in Boston.
Unfortunately, the Nets did not trade for 2007 Kevin Garnett. Last year, Garnett played less than 30 minutes per game for only the third time in his career, and missed 13 games due to injury and rest-related nights off. According to multiple reports, he realistically considered retirement this offseason before agreeing to waive his no-trade clause in order to allow the Nets deal to go through. It came as no surprise then, when new coach Jason Kidd indicated he may not play Garnett in back-to-back games this season.
The dog days of August are here and they bring the slowest point of the NBA calendar. The free agent signings have dried to a trickle, and next season still feels light years away. It is, however, an important transition period for teams, coaches, and players. Game plans are being developed, lineup combinations are bandied about, and coaches are beginning to formulate their teams’ style of play for the upcoming season. This may, in fact, be one of the most important times of the year for a team like the Brooklyn Nets.
First-year coach Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko, and Jason Terry were brought in to bring owner Mikhail Prokhorov a title within his stated five-year window. But how will this team go from first round disappointment to NBA champions? How will the team look on offense and defense this season under Coach Kidd?
On Thursday, the basketball blogosphere was aflutter over the sound of apparent trash talk from newly-installed Net Paul Pierce, who held court with the media after a promotional event in which he soundly thrashed a bunch of tweens at H-O-R-S-E. (Or S-P-R-I-N-T, as the event’s sponsors would like to call it. “The only thing that separates the two teams is a bridge,” Pierce said. “And both of them are in the same division and both of them are considered contenders. You can’t help but say this is probably gonna be the best rivalry in sports next year.” This does read like a bit of ribbing, but listening to Pierce talk, you wouldn’t have guessed. The question that prompted his answer was completely run-of-the-mill—I think it was literally something like “What does this rivalry with the Knicks mean?”—and yet Pierce answered in a measured, sober tone, offering a fully-formed, unique quote to fuel the blogosphere for a minute.
Let’s not sugarcoat this. There’s no way you would waste the latter half of your day sitting in a cubicle reading 3,000 words on the Nets 2013-14 schedule. Or, if not in a cubicle, in the privacy of your own home. Either way, you’re just not doing it.
However, I do realize you need some type of guideline in order to get geared up and prepare for particular games. So, without further ado, the following are the must-know points of the season with little to no commentary.
Oct. 30: @ Cleveland – Opening night is only 84 days away!!
Nov. 1: vs. Miami (ESPN) – Home opener against the champs.
Dec. 5: vs. New York (TNT) – Do I really need to elaborate?
Dec. 25: vs. Chicago (ESPN) – The epic rematch we’ve all been waiting for first thing Christmas morning.
Jan. 2: @OKC (NBA TV) – Curious how the Nets matchup against the best in the West? Here’s a good place to start.
Jan. 20: @New York (ESPN) – We might need to check on the maximum capacity of MSG.
Jan. 26: @Boston (ESPN) – …*faints*
Feb 13: @Chicago (TNT) – A rematch of the rematch!!
(Of course, if you’re in the demographic wanting to waste time, you could always click here.)
In case you missed it, Jason Kidd attended a special screening of the new film Elysium earlier this week. This isn’t the important part.
What is important, though, is a specific point Kidd made mid-interview.
Q: Growing up did you have any futuristic movies or books that made you think the future would look something like the world of “Elysium?”
Kidd: “I’m a big fan of The Matrix…But also some of the plot of this movie! He’s fighting for what he believes in and so it’s something that hopefully when I see them, now that I’m a coach, I can use this as one of my tools.”
Use this as one of my tools. It’ll have to be modified; in Elysium, Matt Damon is fighting against class warfare and the Nets are paying the biggest luxury tax ever. But surely the Heat exist on the same level of abstract villainy as the futuristic 1%? Or maybe Kidd’s just mastering his ability to spout PR-level blandishments in preparation for his post-game conferences, in which case game on, coach, game on.