Three Man Weave: Week Fourteen Edition
The Brooklyn Nets are, unequivocally, a mess. Seemingly all facets of the organization have spiraled downwards in the last week or so, from the on-court product to management to even ownership, with crazy rumors and reports leaking by the day. To top it off, winter storm Juno has already cancelled Monday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers and locked down much of the Northeast and the New York metropolitan-area, putting a potential cabin fever element into an already explosive mix. Assuming general manager Billy King doesn’t lose electricity or battery life in his cell phone, this could be the week where we see a major trade (or firing).
The latest rumor leaked to ESPN comes again from friends of the Nets, Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk, and describes King’s souring on Lionel Hollins’s performance this season as head coach of the 18-26 Brooklyn Nets. Citing worries “about a recent lack of competitiveness”, ownership is reportedly “monitoring the situation closely” and will be evaluating “various facets of the team.” Whether that evaluation also encompasses Billy King still remains to be seen, but Hollins’s four-year, $20 million deal (which includes some incentives and a team option in the fourth year) might be a tough write-off for an owner that just last week put the team on the market. Hollins should be safe, as conflicting reports are already refuting the original story before I can even finish this paragraph, but this can’t be a good indicator as to his relationship with his front office or ownership.
Before Stein and Youngmisuk’s story broke, King reportedly reignited trade conversations with the Charlotte Hornets about Lance Stephenson, this time concerning Joe Johnson. Gerald Henderson and Marvin Williams would also be included to match salaries but trade talks never really evolved, and the word Sunday was that Joe Johnson has been hampered by tendinitis in his right knee and left ankle in recent weeks. Towards the bottom of that Woj piece he casually lists the Denver Nuggets as another team rumored to be interested in trading for Brook Lopez, but as with the Joe Johnson to Charlotte trade, nothing has really materialized since.
Oh and the Brooklyn Nets played three games last week on the road and against Western Conference opponents, losing two of the three by a combined 74 points and escaping Sacramento on Wednesday with just a three-point victory. They led by as many as 17 points against the Kings but went ice cold on offense in the fourth quarter and prevailed only due to some Joe Johnson heroics and a bad intentional foul by Rudy Gay in the last minute. Brook Lopez went off for 22 points, six rebounds, and six blocks and Bojan Bogdanovic was aggressive early in scoring 10 first-quarter points, but the team’s play down the stretch reinforced their inability to play a complete game on both sides of the ball. Blowout losses in Los Angeles against the Clippers and in Utah were perhaps the most frustrating and, frankly, depressing back-to-back games of the season, as they came by 39 and 35 points, respectively.
The Nets will get a snow day at home this week rather than playing the Trail Blazers Monday night at the Barclays Center, before (hopefully) travelling to Atlanta Wednesday to play the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks and then Friday at home against the Toronto Raptors to close out January. In their next 13 games they’ll play just three at home and three against teams under .500 (the Knicks, Lakers, and Nuggets). Given the team’s struggles on the floor and in the upper echelons of the organization, it will be an interesting February to say the least for the Brooklyn Nets, and Deron Williams’s return from a rib injury might be too late to recapture the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs back from the Charlotte Hornets.
In the Week 14 Three Man Weave, our three experts will answer an optimistic question, a trade question, and a… not so optimistic question, as to when they knew this Brooklyn Nets team would not reach their expectations. We’d love to hear from you in the comments as to what you think the Nets should focus on down the stretch or in trade talks, and we hope that everybody stays warm and safe inside and away from the snow.
Monday vs Portland (postponed to April 6)
Wednesday @ Atlanta
Friday vs Toronto
1.) Before the season we were all relatively optimistic about the Brooklyn Nets, if not quite as optimistic as Verts. At what point were you ready to admit that you were wrong about this team? Or, alternatively, when did the Nets break your spirit?
Brian McNichols: I may have accidentally predicted 48 wins in that aforementioned piece, and I still think they can do it. All they have to do is close out the season 30-8 and… damn it. I think I can pinpoint the exact game where I gave it up; December 10, 2014 versus the Chicago Bulls. The Nets lost that game 105-80 after leading 55-53 in the 3rd quarter. The Bulls then went on a 48-18 run and Brooklyn lost their 3rd game on the bounce, all by 22 points or more. This run proved to me that the Nets didn’t have enough, and of all my terrible predictions, I’m sad to say that one looks like the winner.
Jeremy Briggs: I came close to my breaking point during the seven-game losing streak, but the win over the Wizards created a faint glimmer of hope. Yet here we stand now, fresh off back-to-back 35+ point losses. Really? Could Kentucky beat the Nets? Spirit officially broken.
David Vertsberger: Give up hope? Why would you do that? Is this team really as bad as it looks? Two of their best three players are hurt and the other one is Brook Lopez, who is almost always hurt. Their role players outside of Mason Plumlee have done nothing to admire. Sometimes it seems there’s a coaching imprint on the team and other times not so much. Look at that picture. It’s really not THAT bad. It’s really not THAT bad. It’s really not It’s really not It’s really not It’s really noooooooooooo SYNTAX ERROR. CAN’T COMPUTE. *fizzles* *sparks* *shuts off*
2.) There have been many words written this season about trading Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, or Joe Johnson but when do the Nets look to shed some salary and shop veterans like Kevin Garnett, Jarrett Jack, or Alan Anderson? Assuming general manager Billy King would commit to being “sellers” at the trade deadline, what could he reasonably expect in return for some of his vets?
McNichols: Anytime now is good. Brooklyn is currently 1/2 game out of the playoffs, and even if they make it I have little faith they can beat any of the top five teams in a seven-game series. The only reason not to tank entirely is that they likely have to swap their first round pick with Atlanta. Even with that, they are carrying so much money and have so few future draft picks that the smart move would be to dump everyone they can for whatever picks they can get. So they’ll probably trade a 2018 first rounder for Eric Gordon….ha ha, just kidding, they already owe Boston that pick.
Briggs: While I like the idea of Garnett and even Alan Anderson as 10-15 minute-guys on a contender, neither of them possess much value in a prospective trade. I would say most teams could get a 2nd-round pick in return for someone of AA or KG’s ilk, but the Nets aren’t most teams. They’ll instead find a way to give up another draft pick, rather than receive one.
Verts: Or better yet, they should trade their writers. I’d love to be dealt to write about a team like Atlanta or Golden State. The Nets would probably get some trash bags in return but the greater good would have been done.
3.) Which young player(s) have the most to gain by playing well in the second half of the season?
McNichols: All the non-Mason Plumlee ones. The Nets draft future is… well, it’s not super. Therefore, any hope for the future rests with Sergey Karasev, Bojan Bogdanovic, Mirza Teletovic (hopefully), Cory Jefferson, et al. That may not sound like much but… I don’t know how to finish that sentence.
Briggs: All of them? When you’re as bad of a team as the Nets currently are, you need to just play the youth. It should be a nice chance for all of the young fellas to showcase themselves, whether it be to stay with the Nets or to play for their next contract elsewhere. If I had to choose one, I’m mildly intrigued to see how Cory Jefferson performs in the 20 minutes per game that Mirza vacated.
Verts: Put me in the game, coach Hollins. 19 years young, killer jumpshot and can dribble through everybody’s legs like that kid from ‘Like Mike.’