It's finally starting to sink in that this season is over. It was long, sometimes hard, but mostly entertaining with memories by the dozen. Our reviews on the season start up here, with our final roundtable of the season, and continue Thursday with our individual player reviews. Again, thanks for a great season, and here is the NetsDaily season in review roundtable.
1. Was this season a success?
Net Income: Yes and no. The Nets saw themselves as having a two-year window following Celtics trade. They also wanted to make it at least the Eastern Conference Finals. Then, their best scorer went down amidst controversy over Jason Kidd's competence. They didn't get where they wanted, but considering how it began, it probably was a success.
Tom Lorenzo: Tough to answer, really, since you probably have to look at it in two parts. First, considering pre-season expectations, no it was not a success. This team was built to compete for an NBA Title this season and they didn't. Not fully, at least -- losing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 5 games doesn't necessarily count as competing. However, when you consider the 10-21 start, it was an impressive effort from January 1, 2014, to getting to a point where they could have knocked off the defending champs in the second round of the playoffs. Overall, I would say no. But, in a season split I suppose you can say their was "some success."
Reed Wallach: Kind of. When the Nets acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, they were expected to go to the Finals this season, or at least give the Heat a run for their money in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were also expected to have Brook Lopez available, so I think that once the big man went down the team tempered their expectations. As for their modified expectations, they did succeed. They made it farther then last season, and played Miami tough despite the final result. Overall, sure it was a success looking at what happened to the team, but this wasn't the expected result last summer.
Brian Fleurantin: No. Coming into the year, I thought the Nets would win the Atlantic Division and make an appearance in the Conference Finals, where they'd ultimately lose to the Heat. They ended up losing to the Heat of course, but they fell short of their other goals. November and December was so bad and then when you take into account Brook Lopez's injury, we never got to see the full team we expected coming into the season. This certainly isn't to undercut the success Brooklyn had from January onward, but that starting five of Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Garnett, and Lopez was supposed to excel, but they never got the chance to get in a groove.
Anthony Puccio: You could argue that it was a success, but the plan when this team assembled with six former All-Stars was to win a championship. But, taking into consideration that they started 10-22, and were without their top scorer in Brook Lopez, a 44-38 record + a second round exit isn't so much of a failure.
Larry Fleisher: Yes and no. It was a success because the season lasted longer than last season and due to the fact of how they played well in the final four months. It wasn't because of the 10-21 start which forced them to be in catch-up mode especially throughout the injuries and that eventually cost them the Atlantic, but considering they won a Game 7 on the road, that didn't really matter.
Ghoti: No way to tell yet. The team has two objectives - to win the NBA championship and to become relevant in New York by building a fan base. The first one seems more realistic to me than it ever has, but there are so many variables (Deron, Lopez' health and role, Joe Johnson's advancing age) that the team is just as likely to collapse as it is to move forward. At some point, there is a limit to how much good unlimited spending will do. We'll find out if that's been reached this offseason. The second is going to take years and even winning a title wouldn't necessarily speed up the prospects. It will clearly take time to convert fans and make them truly invest in the team. They took some strides this season by becoming more likeable and developing a bit of an identity, but it's just in the beginning stages. Fans like to wear the gear and enjoy going to the game, but overall there's a detachment there that couldn't be erased in one or two seasons. This season was a mild success in regards to each of these objectives.
2. What was your favorite moment of the season?
NI: Mason Plumlee's block on LeBron James to preserve the win in Miami. Close second: Pierce's block on Kyle Lowry to win the first round. Pierce was bigger in the grand scheme of things, but the block at the rim on LeBron was oh, so dramatic.
TL: Can I say the "Coke moment"? Ok, I'll pick something else... I think there were a few moments that really stood out, but if I had to pick one it might be the Mason Plumlee block against LeBron James. First, it cemented the Nets sweep of the Heat in the regular season. Second, it was a rookie taking down one of the game's all-time greats in a moment where 99 times out of 100 he usually wins out. I suppose the other moment might have been the Paul Pierce block on Kyle Lowry based on the significance of the play. But, give me the Plumlee block. That was just incredible.
RW: Joe Johnson's buzzer beater against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I've written about the game several times after the fact, marking that as the turning point of the Nets season. The game was incredible in itself and that Johnson buzzer beater capped off a massive comeback and started the Nets 2014 spurt.
BF: I'll go with the Pierce block at the end of Game Seven. The wild environment in Toronto, it being a Game Seven, and the fact that the Nets almost blew it moments earlier makes it all the final play all the more impressive. Runner up goes to Plumlee's block on LeBron at the end of the last Nets-Heat regular season game.
AP: The Mason Plumlee block on LeBron James as time expired. Everything about it was great. The Nets sweeping the regular season series vs. Miami, seeing LeBron's face in the tunnel, and Mason Plumlee getting the credit that he deserved.
LF: All of the wins over Miami were exciting in their own way, especially the double overtime win in January. A moment that might be underrated is Dec. 16 against Philadelphia. It was a routine blowout win over a bad team when the Nets were still finding their footing but it will be remembered for Joe Johnson's eight 3-pointers in the third quarter, which even had Paul McCartney going crazy in the stands. Another one was the 101-97 victory over the Raptors when Paul Pierce hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with about 1:10 remaining and the crowd just exploded.
G: During game 7 in Toronto, Joe Johnson got knocked down and all four of his teammates ran over and lifted him back up. They only won two more playoff games than last year, but by this measure they made a heck of a lot more progress than that.
3. Which Nets player took the biggest step forward this season?
NI: Three-way tie among Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston and Plumlee. Arguments for each. Teletovic looked like a bust his rookie year under Avery and P.J. Kidd got it, increasingly relied on him. Livingston moved into starting lineup and fulfilled his great potential after a seven-year recovery from injuries. Everyone, including Billy King, thought Plumlee would spend most of his time in Springfield. Instead, he turned into a top 5 rookie.
TL: To me, the only answer is Shaun Livingston, really. He became one of the great stories in the NBA, setting career highs in multiple categories. Really, he deserves all the courting he'll get in the open market this summer.
RW: It's tough between Shaun Livingston and Mirza Teletovic, but I'll go with Livingston. He was always talented, but it seemed that he could never reach the level he was at again following his injury, let alone surpass it. Yet, Livingston was the man that replaced Brook Lopez in the starting lineup and was integral to the team's success in the second half of the season. Unfortunately, Livingston will probably be gone next season because he has earned a big, fat, payday. But hey, #ShaunLivingstonSucks might catch the eye of opposing GM's!
BF: Shaun Livingston. I wasn't expecting much out of him when the season began, but he was fantastic. He had the best season of his life and was a stabilizing force for the backcourt when everything was going to hell during November and December.
AP: Shaun Livingston. No doubt Livingston was a huge factor in the turnaround, especially when Kidd went to the 'small ball',he gave opposing defenders' nightmares. And of course, taking into consideration that he's been a journeyman after his gruesome injury, it's a feel good story to see Livingston succeed in this league.
LF: Joe Johnson. It's not like he needed to take many steps forward but with all the injuries, we got a really good look at how consistent and steady he is, especially in the postseason.
G: Shaun Livingston is an obvious answer, but I'm going to go with Mirza Teletovic, who looked completely lost at times in his first season but this year showed the skills and versatility on both ends to be a starting NBA player. That's a huge leap and makes him one heck of a bargain for next season.
4. After one season, should Jason Kidd be called a good coach?
NI: Kidd is a very good coach who has the potential to be a great coach. Not a lot of rookie coaches win Coach of the Month award twice in four months. What he doesn't get enough credit for is his development strategies, with Mirza Teletovic, Shaun Livingston and Mason Plumlee. Something else: Kidd wants a clear strategy for the future with short-term and long-term goals. He doesn't like surprises.
TL: Yeah, I would say he's a "good" coach. Tough to coach a team to the Conference Semifinals and not at least say he had a good season. Wasn't great, but it was his first year. He'll get better. Right now, though, he's "good," sure.
RW: He wasn't great, and sometimes maddening, but yes, Jason Kidd was a good coach. It was his call to go small after the Lopez injury and it was his call to save the season and go with Alan Anderson in the starting lineup in game's six and seven against the Raptors. Kidd is still learning on the job, but he did earn the respect of his players, which was major for him moving forward.
BF: I think he's fine as a coach. One of the necessary aspects of coaching is the ability to recognize a problem and make the necessary adjustment. He was able to do that when he changed the lineup after Brook Lopez went down and again when he inserted Alan Anderson in the starting lineup for Games Six and Seven against Toronto. The team tended to stagnate at times and that's something he can work to prevent as he gains more experience, but I have no issues with what he's done.
AP: Yes. Rome wasn't built in one day, and with time, Kidd has the potential to be one of the best coaches in the league. The team was faced with a difficult situation with Lopez being out, but Kidd made a huge change to his game plan and strategy -- which essentially turned their season around.
LF: Yes, we can get into the sub patterns all we want and debate them and for the most part Kidd has his reasons for doing anything. It seemed that Kidd grew more assertive as time wore on and the fact that nobody bailed out during tough times seems to be a good indication on his evolution as a coach.
G: The Nets needed a coach who would use the whole roster so players could be properly evaluated and put in the best situation to succeed. They needed to know who is worth investing in for the future and what the team's needs are going forward (If the incompetent boobs coaching the team last year had done that work, they would be a year ahead and maybe they would still be playing right now). They needed a guy who could give the team some kind of identity and style of play. They needed someone who could be flexible and figure out how to win with what is on the roster and not employ some rigid style that doesn't fit the personnel - and be able to compensate when a major injury occurs and be able to change the team's philosophy on the fly. They needed a coach who could get players to buy in and feel like a part of the team rather than feeling like they were being jerked around or underprepared for games. By all of these counts, Jason Kidd was a huge success this season. He is the single biggest asset the organization has and, now that a lot of the growing pains are out of the way, he gives me hope that they can navigate through their tricky financial situation and maintain a winning culture.
5. What should the Nets do in the offseason?
NI: Not panic. Chemistry, as we've learned, is very, very important. Assuming Deron Williams undergoes surgery, the Nets should wait on his recovery before trying to deal him ... unless a great deal comes along (and Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik doesn't qualify). The same is true of 26-year-old Lopez. He hasn't started to run yet, so his rehab is just beginning. Zydrunas Ilgauskas survived and flourished in the league for 11 years after his foot re-construction; Yao Ming 11 games. He will live with that issue for the rest of his career. I expect Pierce will be back, but one has to wonder at what price. The Nets are looking at the repeater tax and if the repeater tax was in force this season, the Nets would have paid $102 million in salary and $133 million in luxury tax. Kevin Garnett? I have no idea. That's his decision. I doubt Marcus Thornton, Andray Blatche, Marquis Teague and Jorge Gutierrez will be back.
TL: Pray, probably. At this point, I don't really know. There's so much that needs to be done. They have key decisions on Pierce, Kirilenko, Livingston and Blatche, then waiting on Garnett, finding out about Deron Williams' ankles and hoping Brook Lopez comes back healthy. That's a lot of "stuff." The Nets should hope for the best and make some moves that build for a long-term plan.
RW: You can only make so many major trades. At this point, I would try and resign Livingston (but that doesn't seem likely), Kirilenko (up in the air), and for the right price Alan Anderson. I would also try and get into the draft. It is so deep and a lot of value is in the second round this year. A team like the Sixers, who has five in the second round alone, can be persuaded to part ways with a pick. Past that, the Nets need to start building a foundation for this team, and making big trade after big trade isn't going to get that done.
BF: Hmm, this is a tough question. They don't have the flexibility to go out and make a big free agent acquisition so that's out of the question. For as good as he is, they probably don't have the pieces to get Kevin Love out of Minnesota. And despite him reportedly wanting out of Brooklyn, who's gonna wanna take Deron Williams off of the Nets' hands? Really what they can/should do is try to resign Livingston + Pierce and hope for the best with the original starting five next year
AP: There's not much they can do, but I would say stick with the same team. Re-sign Livingston, Pierce, Garnett, and Blatche. The same team given a second chance has the potential to be even more dangerous.
LF: To say they should trade Deron Williams or at least explore it would be an obvious answer. If you can get a top-10 pick then fine but if not, you might as well keep him. I'm in the minority here most likely but I'd like to see how he does after resting his ankles or even getting surgery on them. Joe Johnson said at breakup day that he'd kind of be disappointed if Pierce and Garnett didn't return since they didn't get a full shot with them due to injuries. The Nets seemed to figure it out in the final months and there's a curiosity factor about having a full season together, especially if Brook Lopez is healthy. Some people have suggested pursuing Luol Deng and Lance Stephenson, which may be nice moves in theory but don't necessarily fall into the realities of the salary cap.
G: There are always more options than it seems - especially with an unlimited budget - but it's hard to see how they could make many major changes and improve in the short term (which is still their goal). I expect they will try and maintain as much continuity as possible, get everyone as healthy as possible, and give it another go with just some tweaks here and there
6. What will be the starting five for the Nets next season?
NI: Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Teletovic, Lopez
TL: Deron Williams, someone, Joe Johnson, someone and Brook Lopez. Right now, that's my best guess. Ask me again in a few weeks, but right now I only see those three players locked in as starters, with Lopez and Williams both being questionable due to injuries.
RW: Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Teletovic, Lopez. It's too unclear who else will be on the roster next year.
BF: I think Kidd will go with the Williams-Johnson-Pierce-Garnett-Lopez lineup starting next year. That was the big money group but they only played 290 minutes together in 2013-2014. Kidd should look to see how that lineup plays over the first couple of months before making any changes to the five. I do wonder how Garnett will adjust in moving back to the power forward position after playing so terribly at the 4 this season.
AP: 1.Deron Williams, 2. Shaun Livingston , 3. Joe Johnson, 4. Paul Pierce, 5. Brook Lopez.
LF: Lopez, Pierce, Garnett, Williams and Johnson.
G: Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Teletovic, Lopez