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Ian Eagle: Brooklyn Nets may be headed back to a "core" of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson


Ian Eagle is not just one of the best play-by-play guys in sports. He is also a very good and very well-informed reporter. He's attuned to what's going on with the teams he announces for and he has worked the Nets mic since 1994.  So if he's saying something, you should listen ... maybe even closer than when he's announcing.

In an interview with John Feinstein on CBS Sports, Eagle suggested the Nets are returning to the model they used in their first year in Brooklyn, building around a core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson while getting younger and maybe even let some of the guys they picked up last year go, starting with Paul Pierce, who he thinks wants to play for Doc Rivers!

Here's some of what he said about the Nets strategy going forward.

"You know when you look at their roster, its funny. I think they're going back to the roster they had two years ago, where Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, that was your core. And now you're trying to find players that fit the rest of what you're trying to accomplish.

"Last year, a departure, they go out, they give up a lot of picks for Kevin Garnett, Kevin Garnett. They sign Shaun Livingston, they sign Alan Anderson, they make a deal for Marcus Thornton, they draft Mason Plumlee. So there were pieces along the way that they added because it was a 'go-for-broke' attitude. Well, it got them to the second round.

"They look at the landscape in the Eastern Conference and they look at the lack of flexibility that they have, there's no doubt they're trying to get younger.

"The Pierce deal is going to be interesting to keep an eye on. I think he wants to play for the Clippers. I think Doc Rivers wants him there. If the Nets feel they can get some value back in a sign-and-trade, which means Pierce gets to maximize the money as opposed to just signing there as a cold free agent, then that will show you what the philosophy is right now, that they're looking to turn the roster over a bit. BUT it's still the core group. They believe they have enough talent to still compete in the Eastern conference."

He also spoke highly of Lionel Hollins...

"Lionel Hollins is a no-nonsense kind of guy, had an excellent NBA career, defensive minded, leadership skills, a guy who kept himself in tremendous shape. He was also a little bit of a rabble rouser in his day as well. When he disagreed, he went public, that Dr. Jack Ramsey maybe wasn't handling him in the right way, that he wasn't getting paid the right amount of money in Portland.

"So this is a guy that's got some texture there, It's funny, I've heard the categorization of him that he's old school and not with today's NBA.  I don't buy that.  I think Lionel Hollins is a really good choice and many believe he was Billy's first choice, but that ownership wanted the sizzle around Jason Kidd when they made the decision a year ago."

And a bit less highly about Jason Kidd, but without attacking him...

"I think Kidd, who is a very skilled poker player, played a couple of hands here," Eagle continued. "And his feeling on this was it was a win-win for him. He made a push for power. If he got the power, that was a win. If he didn’t get the power, he had something in his back pocket, which was a job waiting for him in Milwaukee based on a relationship he has with (Marc Lasry). And Jason realized there would be a very soft landing for him financially and, probably in the end, more control. And that’s the way he played this thing."

Eagle didn't shrink when asked about the possibility of tampering, after Feinstein noted that Marc Lasry, the Bucks co-owner, told a press conference that he was first approached by Kidd's agent, Jeff Schwartz. Eagle, in fact, said, "It's becoming a problem. The lines are a little bit loose right now. It's a grey area for the NBA and it may be something they have to address. There could be tampering issues. I think there's a reason why there was some form of value was given back to the Nets."

As for his bottom line on Kidd?

"Jason, he’s cold-blooded. He’s a killer. He was a killer out on the court. That’s what made him such a great player ... The problem when you start getting into the human side – I don’t know. Look, he’s fully aware. He’s aware of everything that’s going on around him. He’s a smart guy – a really smart guy. But I think he looked at the situation and thought to himself, ‘Hey, if it’s not me, it’s going to be somebody else.'"