Thomsen does the requisite arithmetic on how bad things could be: "Brooklyn is on pace to win 25 games this season, in which case Mikhail Prokhorov would be paying $7.6 million per win."
A better use of Thomsen's calculator might have been to contrast the way the two teams have been built ... and the extraordinary value the Spurs put on chemistry as well as talent.
Fun Stat I: 10 of the Spurs' 14 players have been with the organization for at least three years and four have been with the organization eight years or more ... under the same coach. The four with eight years or more with the Spurs are Tim Duncan (17 years); Tony Parker (13 years); Manu Ginobili (12 years) and Matt Bonner (8 years).
Fun stat II: 13 of the Nets' 15 players have been with the organization two years or less ... under three different coaches. Deron Williams (in his fourth year as a Net) and Brook Lopez (his sixth year) are the only Nets who have played with the organization for more than two years. Seven players are in their first year with the team, six in their second.
Bottom line: chemistry matters in the NBA, perhaps as much as talent. And when that chemistry gets delayed by injuries, bad things happen.
Thomsen really doesn't believe the Nets will win 25 games. He answers New York fans' favorite question: which team Nets or Knicks, is likely to pull out of its funk.
"If the Nets are able to restore most of their stars to the rotation then maybe one or two of them will show some leadership. The East is so bad that an extended winning streak should be able to put them back in playoff contention. To answer your question, Tony, I'll say it's the Nets."
Meanwhile, Sekou Smith touches on many of the same points his NBA.com colleagues John Schuhmann and Steve Aschburner made last week about the Nets nearing "a point of no return."
His most telling line: "you know things are dire when Shaun Livingston and Mason Plumlee are the only players on your roster who pose a consistent threat to opposing teams with their athleticism, energy and passion."
- How bad are the Nets? Contrast with the Spurs - Ian Thomsen - Sports Illustrated
- Nets Nearing Point Of No Return? - Sekou Smith - NBA.com
The Fundamentals: Desperation tolls for the new-look Nets as troubles mount - Rob Mahoney - Sports Illustrated