Way back in June (a month ago), the punditry was unanimous in its assessment of the Nets. Having saddled themselves with a third of a billion dollars in contracts last summer, they were stuck in CBA hell. They were a good team, but with limited flexibility, doomed a never-ending cycle of second round exit after second round exit ... the dreaded Hawks North.
Then, the Nets went out and blew everyone away by dramatically remaking the team, CBA be damned. As it turns out, Billy King, Mikhail Prokhorov et al are more creative and more aggressive than the pundits could have imagined. Shocking. Now, the Nets are doomed in a different way, we are told. Now, they're really stuck in CBA hell, with aging superstars and suspect chemistry. Woe is us. The Nets are bound to be disappointing ... the Lakers East.
Zach Lowe, writing for Grantland, typifies a lot of the pundits. He can't quite include them in his list of unqualified off-season success stories. He sets them off in a special category, "Generating Divided Opinions and/or Excited Anxiety." But Lowe does concede there might be something here, easily dismissing the comparison with the Lakers.
These aren't last year's Lakers, no matter how badly rival executives wish that to be the case. Those Lakers, another on-paper juggernaut, went four deep before a falloff to subreplacement players. This team will have five legit All-Star-level starters, with Andrei Kirilenko, Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche, Jason Terry, Reggie Evans, Mirza Teletovic, and more coming off the bench.
They'd better be good, he concludes, "because they've mortgaged their future to assemble this roster" ... even though none of the five new players has a contract longer than two years, that most teams built to "win now" eschew picks for players and that Prokhorov has signaled a continuing willingness to spend by happily noting his investment has increased "fivefold" over three years. So, expect more of the same until they start playing the games, 100 days or so from now.
Meanwhile, Al Iannazzone asked Dolan employees John Starks and Walt Frazier what they thought of the Nets moves. Knicks are still better, they agreed. Again, shocking.
- NBA offseason moves - assessing the winners, tankers, and everything in between - Zach Lowe - Grantland
- John Starks: Nets are 'still looking up' at Knicks - Al Iannazzone - Newsday