Barclays Center was abuzz Monday with the talent of LSU's 6'10" point guard Ben Simmons who brought 51 NBA scouts and other personnel --including the Nets head scout, Gregg Polinsky-- to Brooklyn to watch LSU battle Marquette. The Australian did not disappoint. He finished with 21 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists even as the Tigers lost to the Golden Eagles.
But just as Danko Cvjeticanin filed a scouting report on Dragan Bender, a 7-foot Croatian wunderkind, Polinsky's visit was perfunctory. The Nets have no chance at either because their 2016 pick resides in Boston, Massachusetts, the result of the 2013 Boston trade.
Harvey Araton of the Times examines the trade and all its possibilities, none of them positive, for the franchise, something everyone has done, but adds something else. He suggests, at least indirectly, that it was Billy King's lack of imagination --and a bit of arrogance-- that led the Nets to give up so much in the deal.
He never imagined the Nets falling this far so fast, which he absolutely should have. In a nutshell, all they reaped from the deal with Pierce and Garnett was one playoff-round victory (Toronto, 2014) and a solid starting forward in Thaddeus Young (acquired from Minnesota last season for Garnett).
The Nets in effect dismissed the value of the picks, Araton argues. They anticipated a rising franchise that wouldn't have to worry about picks they assured themselves would fall in the late 20's ... every year. Instead, they are faced with losing a chance at taking a transformative player like Simmons or Bender. You can call it bad management or bad luck, but it's the reality.
Of course, there is the footnote that the Nets couldn't protect at least two of the three picks. Protections could have moved the picks into the next year and that would have violated the Stepien Rule. It prohibits a team from dumping back-to-back first round picks. But that was always the plan: dump as many picks as needed for stars. Remember the Nets were offering FOUR first round picks in the first iteration of the Dwight Howard discussions.
It didn't work, notes Araton. For the him the bottom line is as ugly as any predicted by ESPN.
Given bleak prospects for dramatic improvement, or youthful investment, the case could be made that they are the N.B.A.’s saddest story, as even Philadelphia (0-15) has youth and picks upon which to wish.
Harsh? Better not to watch anymore of Simmons or Bender and instead start counting the days to free agency ... or if that doesn't work, the days to the 2019 draft when the Nets next have their own pick. That's 1,336 if you're wondering.
Nets’ Disastrous Deal With the Celtics Keeps Getting Worse - Harvey Araton - New York Times