1. Reflect on the Nets season as a whole
Net Income: Incredibly frustrating and disappointing, easily the worst of the three years in Brooklyn. Not only was the team's record disappointing, the team had no star, no defining presence. The coach was not engaging. He seemed vindictive and stubborn at times, but also could be cleverly manipulative. He didn't want to be liked and wasn't.
Tom Lorenzo: Do I have to? OK, I will. As a whole, it wasn't successful. I'm a believer that from one season to the next, if you don't improve, you look at it, wholly, as a failure. The Nets didn't improve, and while there were some factors working against them -- mostly, health -- I don't think you can say that finishing 8th in the East and losing in the first round of the playoffs is a successful season. It wasn't quite a disaster, but it can certainly be looked at as a failure.
Reed Wallach: It was quite frustrating. The team always seemed to take one step forward and two steps back and was constantly changing. Brooklyn finished the season on a high note, pushing a very good Atlanta to six games, but I can't get past how underwhelming this season was overall. Deron Williams continued to decline, and the Nets best prospect who looked like a future building block, Mason Plumlee, fell off a cliff through the last two months of the season. There isn't a ton of bright spots with this franchise right now.
Anthony Puccio: It was a roller coaster ride this season. There were times where they looked like a solid team, and then there were times where they looked like they belonged at the bottom of the East. A perfect example would be when they defeated the Bulls by 14 back in late December, then followed up with a 7-game losing streak. This was a reoccurring theme all season. At that point, it was established that this team had some serious issues, most notably leadership and depth issues. Then, Brook Lopez turned things up and the team was suddenly on the rise. They had an offensive leader.
But... just when you wanted to praise them, they lose the two biggest games of the season and limp into the playoffs; despite owning their playoff destiny. And then of course, they push the #1 seed to six games. It was just a very, very confusing season.
Brian Fleurantin: I was ready to call this season a disappointment, but I went back to the preview I did for the mothership wrote that I expected the team to compete for and ultimately make the playoffs. It feels like they should have been able to do more given the state of the East, but everything pretty much went as we expected back in October.
Daniel LoGiudice: If we're going by the Vegas odds, the Nets probably overachieved a bit. Although if you ask me, a team with this high of a payroll and the All-Stars they have that limped into the playoffs the way they did has to be considered a disappointment.
Ghoti: This was the worst season in my life as a Nets fan. That isn't because this was the worst team (far from it) or because of their record or because they played boring basketball or because I don't like the coach or because I am sick of some of the players or because I don't like Brooklyn or because they just really made me crazy. It was far worse. It was because I didn't care that much.
They say when you get older, your fandom changes. As life gets more serious and demanding of your time you become less passionate, more detached. If you are 15 and your team gets eliminated fro the playoffs, you are devastated. You may be depressed for a week. When you are 40, maybe you are briefly upset, but you have a different perspective. It's not what's really important to you. It's easier to compartmentalize. We'll get 'em next season.
Well, that is not me. Am I exactly as consumed by my favorite teams as I was as a teenager? No. I'm not immune from life. Priorities shift and perspectives change. However, I am a passionate person. My emotions are at the surface, and my sports teams are so ingrained in my identity that I can never separate them from who I am. I've tried. I can't.
So when I am not paying attention to the game when it's on, when I forget the game is on entirely, when I don't even consider the game at all when planning my day - something is very wrong. I'm not blaming the Nets or making any sort of commentary about the organization. I'm just relating how I feel. And what I feel is not much and that is not good and it makes me sad.
Rich Denton: The Nets have always been the ideal team for an internet-savy fan to root for. With a beautiful symmetry to the team, we're treated to fresh iterations of usual themes, and this year was no different. With another era about to enter its swan song, we were treated to another Head Coach, a new offensive system to learn, a new starting five, more early year struggles, another resurgent second half, and one more "Plan B" roster move to try and prolong the inevitable playoff futility. Where the franchise lacks institutional memory, us fans have plenty. I'd have to describe the year as "typical."
Thomas Duffy: Sigh. It was typical Nets.
Some nights I’d think "Wow, this team could win a playoff series," and others were more along the lines of "I think the NetsDaily staff could run these guys off the floor."
They still have the players, which is odd. A team with Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez should be somewhat relevant...but I guess that’s what they were.
I will say this: When everyone (myself included) counted them out against the Hawks, they put up a fight. You have to respect that.
Larry Fleisher: The season was interesting. There were times when my feelings about them went from thinking there was absolutely no chance they'd make the playoffs to being befuddled how a team with Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams couldn't be similar to the one that won 49 games two years ago to wondering why they couldn't be more consistent. Even though the run at the end was nice, there was never a doubt that this was a first-round team and how it ended was right in terms of games, not in terms of losing by 24.
We Must Be Nets: This was one of more frustrating seasons I have ever experienced as a Nets fan. For every big win that made you believe that they turned the corner, they fell flat on their faces against an inferior opponent. Whenever it appeared that they were finished, they somehow rose from the dead like the zombies we’ve come to label them as.
There definitely was some good that came out of this disappointing season. I feel the Nets have a nice trio that complement each other well in Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, and Bojan Bogdanovic. Hopefully, the three of them will remain in Brooklyn and continue to build upon what they started in the second half of this season.
Additionally, I think the Nets have found their leader in Lionel Hollins and I believe he is the key in changing the culture with the team. He may be stubborn and use questionable lineups, but there's no denying that he did a great job in the postseason.
2. What is the Nets biggest need to be addressed in the offseason?
NI: The Nets need so much, but more than anything the Nets should find a way to bring hope to the fan base. A trade on the level of Garnett-for-Young would be nice. Some Draft Day magic could help as well. If you're asking what type of player the Nets could use, I think a quick, athletic and charismatic type would be ideal.
TL: It seems to be the same, as usual, but I think you have to look to get more athletic. Between Brook Lopez, who doesn't run well, Joe Johnson, who isn't getting any younger, and Deron Williams, who is seemingly always injured, the Nets need to find players who can run up and down the court. Also, they need to shed one of those large contracts. They have to find a way to do that.
RW: A clear leader would help, but personnel-wise the team could use a point guard and a big. Behind the Deron Williams/Jarrett Jack tandem, the Nets have no ball handlers, and neither of those are reliable for a playoff team throughout a whole season. Brooklyn also needs another power forward/center. If Mason Plumlee is going to continue to be a liability on the floor, the Nets need an athletic big who can stretch the floor like Thaddeus Young does.
AP: It depends on Lopez's decision. If he stays, they'd better find themselves a reliable backup center because Brook can't be playing 40 minutes per game, especially with his past injuries. Overall, I think they really need to fix their bench the most. Find a new point guard? Many things.
BF: They need a lot, but I think they need an athletic small forward the most. Joe Johnson has played so many minutes in his career and the combination of that along with the injuries this season really slowed him down. If they can find a three and D wing player, they can start to phase Joe out.
DL: They need to commit to a plan regarding the "Big" 3. Whether they decide to keep all three and make another run, or dispatch the pieces and rebuild, they need to do something definitive. This year, the Nets were caught in a bit of a limbo. They'll need to either commit or trade, even if the offers for Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are simply salary dumps.
G: The whole team needs to be rebuilt from the top down but NBA rules prevent that kind of change. I guess they can start with management but that won't really fix anything. The best I think we can hope for is for them to shuffle things around and remain mediocre while killing time until the 2020 season when they can finally start building something - if they have the people in place who know how to do that.
RD: I've gone on record as a Prokhorov apologist for the "dual-rebuilds" he had the challenge of co-implementing. It's hard enough to rebuild talent, and it's difficult to instantaneously grow a new fan base, so our expensive plug-and-play approach to team building seemed like the only feasible route to take. Having re-established the Newark Nets as a perennial playoff participant, it makes sense to put this old dog out of its misery and reboot ourselves all over again. The Shawshank quote that was oft-used in the Jason Kidd/Vince Carter era is relevant once more: "you either get busy living, or get busy dying." Bring on 12-70 part two!
TD: Re-sign Thad Young and Lopez. Super important.
LF: This is tricky because in theory they have it in the starting lineup or at least they should. Probably better bench depth because other than Jarrett Jack, a healthy Mirza Teletovic there isn't much that's consistently there as evidenced by the second half regression of Mason Plumlee, the unknown of Markel Brown.
WMBN: As Coach Hollins recently said, the Nets must find a way to get younger and more athletic. Today’s game is predicated on speed and too many times Brooklyn’s lack of quickness is exposed on the defensive end, whether it’s getting beaten to loose balls, defending the three-point line, or preventing opposing guards to penetrate into the lane.
They can also use a starting point guard who can bring a consistent level of play to the court each night and elevate his teammates. It’s been a long time since we had one of those.
3. Should the Nets begin to start over and remodeling their team, or keep the same core and fight it out for one more year?
NI: I don't think they have a choice. The die is cast. At least for the next year, they're stuck. They can't keep the same core. It failed and it's too expensive. They could try to rebuild while winning, but that almost never works. They don't have the assets to rebuild quickly. They do have two picks at 29 and 41 but unless those picks resemble Tony Parker and Jodie Meeks, the two best players ever taken at those draft positions, the draft is unlikely to help.
TL: Yeah, they definitely need to start over. This core of Lopez, Johnson and Williams is nothing more than a "second round of the playoffs" ceiling team. They can't expect to build a fanbase on these three players, especially when none of them have the equity with the fans to have them "keep the faith."
RW: The team has to begin moving on. I'd hang onto Joe Johnson as long as possible and wait for someone to bite on his now massive expiring contract, but Deron Williams should be moved as soon as possible, which will be difficult to do. The Nets need to shed some money and get lucky in their search for bargain deals this summer, and hope a leader comes of it.
AP: I think they have the perfect role players to SURROUND one more star (including Lopez). Guys like Thaddeus Young, Alan Anderson, Bojan Bogdnovic, and Mirza Teletovic can strive on a team where Lopez & one other legitimate star control the offense. Those kind of guys are good to have, but not good enough to be a top seed nor make a championship push to depend upon. I don't think they should remodel. Give these guys one last chance to play together with the same coach, same system, and maybe even most of the same players. Continuity is key.
BF: I think they should go about remodeling the team. I think the urge to make a "win now" move is there because of the draft pick situation and Toronto falling apart in the second half, but they should look into gathering assets for at least the next year. One down year that leads to some financial flexibility and a chance at landing one of the big free agents in the 2016 off-season should get Brooklyn back on track. The Williams-Johnson-Lopez trio hasn't worked, and if there is a team that wants either Johnson or Williams, you make the trade ASAP.
DL: Fighting it out with this core for another year would be foolish. The Nets only made the playoffs because of the ineptitude of the Eastern Conference, and it doesn't look like Williams or Johnson are getting any better, or younger. It wouldn't be wise to rely on a core that was nicknamed the "Zombie Nets" for another year.
G: The Nets are mismanaged and have left themselves very few choices in how the team can be reconstructed. There is no point in having a terrible team. They should keep or acquire as many good players as they can and try to win as many games as they can. Since many teams keep or protect their first round picks, there are few teams competing for the lower playoff seeds. It won't take much to get one of those. That should be the goal.
RD: Does anyone think Deron-Joe-Brook are going to start playing any better together? I've seen this show before. Prokhorov can flex his muscles in free agency as the salary cap increases over the next couple of years. In the meantime, I'd love to see this team get blown up for some exciting players, regardless of how the win-loss columns look. The analytical side of me is fed up with this bunch, and I miss being entertained by my favorite sports team. If I had my druthers, I'd bring in a Darren Collison, Lance Stephenson, Gerald Green, Andray Blatche group and just dunk the ball all day.
TD: Might as well fight it out. The point of tanking is to get/improve draft picks, and the Nets have about as many picks as Young Thug has good songs—very few. The salary cap is supposed to explode next summer, so probably better to keep on chugging until they can start over.
If some clueless team wants to give up assets for JJ or D-Will, though, it’d be unwise not to pull the trigger. Brooklyn just needs to avoid have a fire sale.
LF: Yes, but don't make trades for the sake of it. Get something equal back but also make sure that return has favorable financial terms to coincide with the salary cap spike and summer of 2016.
WMBN: The restructuring of this roster HAS to begin this offseason. In three consecutive seasons the Nets have finished fourth, sixth, and eighth in the conference. Notice a pattern? If this downward trend continues, there won’t be playoff basketball in Brooklyn next year.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. After three years, it is safe to assume that Brooklyn’s Big Three just isn’t compatible. Chemistry seems to be getting worse among them as they still don’t know what their identity is. I applaud the effort to try to make the Nets a title contender, but it’s time to pull the plug on this era.
4. Who is more likely to be on the roster next year: Deron Williams or Brook Lopez?
NI: Hard to tell. I think Brook's return is a little better than 50-50 and the only way Deron departs is via a buyout, which would be quite expensive but I believe could happen. I'll go with Lopez.
TL: Deron Williams. I think Lopez will get offers -- big offers! And I don't think Williams is moveable. It's definitely looking like Lopez has a better shot at leaving.
RW: I'd say Lopez, but I'm not sure Deron Williams can be moved. The Nets do need to bring Brook Lopez back for obvious reasons, but I'm not sure if the team should build around him. Lopez is great, and he saved the Nets season, but he has a very defined skill set and this core is not working. When the cap sheet is empty in 2016, is this front office going to want to start completely over or hang onto Lopez? If they do max out Lopez, that's fine, but it may alter Brooklyn's grand plan for 2016.
AP: I'm sure most fans want to hear Brook Lopez, but trading Deron Williams for something valuable is pretty unrealistic at this point. Deron has a better chance by default.
BF: Lopez. The Nets can't afford to let him leave in free agency and I expect them to do everything they can to keep him around. Lopez is the team's most important player and everything needs to revolve around him going forward.
DL: Deron Williams simply because there's not a huge market for him. If Lopez opts out, which he probably will, he'll receive a lot of interest from other teams and will probably command a max contract, something the Nets may not be able to afford. Brooklyn has also done everything they can to alienate Lopez and show him that they don't want him. Lopez may finally be fed up. Williams on the other hand is an absolute shell of his former self and probably won't command much more than a salary dump at this point, something the Nets didn't seem too interested in this season.
G: If they want to keep Lopez, they can. They can pay him the most and he has been blindly loyal to them (to his own detriment). If they want to get rid of Williams this offseason, they would have to waive him. There is NO other way to get rid of him at this time. They do not possess the assets it would take to trade him. The alternative is to just carry him and let the clock run out on his contract. It doesn't hurt them to play him next season and hope he develops enough trade value to allow a salary dump. It only takes one desperate/stupid GM among 29. My guess is they are both back, but Williams is the surer bet. Maybe Brook will come to his senses.
RD: By getting a max offer from the Bobcats the last time he hit Free Agency, I have to assume that Brook will have plenty of suitors. On the other hand, the usual talking points about Deron's underperformance towards his contract don't preclude the rumored Sacremento King's interest during this past year. Was Brook genuine in saying he wanted to stay with the Nets during his whole career? Will he get a No-Trade-Clause? There's a lot of off-season left to play out, and I think it's too difficult to call without fully understanding the direction that Razumov wants to take the team.
TD: Probably Williams, no? Obviously, the Nets would rather have Lopez but D-Will is at least under contract. BroLo is a center in his prime and might be tired of being borderline-relevant every year. If he decides to ditch the Nets for a contender, it’ll be really hard to fault him.
LF: I'd go with Lopez. I think the Nets re-sign him after they realized the value he gave them down the stretch when he was the team's most consistent player and with that in mind, it's amazing to think how close they almost gave him up for Reggie Jackson. While I'm an optimist every time Deron Williams makes me hopeful, he quickly regresses. Case in point, how he followed up scoring 35 points in Game 4. Those performances can be captivating but also frustrating since you know he has it in him but doesn't do it consistently.
WMBN: Believe it or not, but I’m going with the Wookie. His stellar play during the second half of the season carried the Nets into the playoffs and he was the main reason why they even competed with Atlanta for 5.5 games. Letting the face of the franchise leave for nothing would be a total disaster, not to mention a PR nightmare.
On the other hand, it really feels like Williams has worn out his welcome with this organization. The way fans speak of how many more years we have left of D-Will sounds as if we are suffering through a prison sentence. As long as he is here, a dark cloud will continue hover over the Barclays Center. Perhaps the organization will explore utilizing the stretch provision.
5. Early draft prediction.
NI: A swingman like R.J. Hunter of Georgia State but probably not R.J. Hunter. Maybe Timothe Luwanu of France. They could, in theory, move up by combining the two picks and throwing in the $2.3 million they have available. Might get them to 21 or 22. They've done that before.
TL: They will pick 29th.
RW: Tyus Jones would be a gift from heaven, but it seems from early mock drafts that he will be gone before the Nets are picking. Besides a point guard, someone like Terry Rozier could work, the Nets could use a wing defender similar to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Really, I think they will take the best player available.
AP: Can't exactly comment because I haven't studied into the draft/college enough.
BF: I can't really answer this because I haven't thought much of the prospects that will be in the Nets range. Ask me in about a month or so.
DL: A popular choice in the mock drafts is Tyus Jones and I like the fit. Whether the Nets keep Williams or not, they will need a point guard. Jones can pass, efficiently score, run the floor and possesses a high basketball IQ. Despite his physical limitations, I think Jones is being very underrated in this draft. He should be around for the 29th pick.
G: Point guard. C'mon.
RD: Am I mailing it in if I say "a four year defensive-oriented perimeter player?
TD: I was hoping for R.J. Hunter, and even wrote an article about how he’d fit in with Brooklyn.
He seems to shooting up draft boards, though, which hurts the Nets’ chances of getting him. Draft Express has Brooklyn taking an 18-year-old Brazilian point guard named George Lucas.
LF: I'll plead ignorance since I don't follow draft stuff in earnest until June. For example one draft site has them taking Christian Wood of UNLV. In the two times I saw him in Brooklyn he looked decent, kind of similar to what Thaddeus Young provides. I think if they can find a young point guard at 29, that would be fine as well.
WMBN: The Nets will buy at least one pick in the second round and Bill Simmons will make it his agenda to ridicule them at any chance he gets for the "pick swap" with Atlanta.
6. Favorite part of the season
NI: The playoff run, featuring Brook Lopez. The supposedly too-nice Lopez carried the team on his back, with six 30 point games in a crucial 12-game stretch. That's the definition of toughness. Second place: the sweep of the Knicks.
TL: Game 4 of the playoff, probably. The fans were great. The game was great. Just, overall, it was my favorite part of the season. Though, I did love the evolution of the Brigade, the honor paid to Jeffrey Gamblero and, of course, getting to cover the games for the NetsDaily family.
RW: DWill's explosion in Game 4. I've never seen Barclays like that since Kidd was tossing lobs to Martin in Jersey.
AP: Deron Williams' 35-point game in Game 4. It's just amazing to see how bad Nets fans want to rally behind this guy, even though he's been nothing but a disappointment. Either way, that was a ton of fun and probably the loudest I've ever heard the Barclays Center.
BF: I would say the six game winning streak. The season had been so dour and it was great to see the team go on a nice little run to get into playoff contention. The fanbase didn't have much to be happy about this year so that streak was a much needed shot of positivity
DL: It has to be Deron turning the clocks back and going off in Game 4. It gave Nets fans a glimpse of what could have been, even if for only one night. Come to think of it, that's somewhat depressing. Maybe I'll go with Brook's campaign to be a Wookie. Comedic gold.
G: When I heard the Kings wanted to trade for Deron Williams.
RD: Trading Kevin Garnett for Thaddeus Young might have been the biggest win this team had all season. Then, of course, it's always nice to win the season series against the Knicks.
TD: Probably D-Will’s explosion against the Hawks. If only for a night, it felt like what was supposed to happen with that trade. It was so much fun to see No. 8 shut everyone up—for one game, at least. He let the team down before and after that, but in a vacuum, that was legendary.
LF: This is like a list of top games for me, so some of my top games are the following: Deron Williams showing in Game 4, the 114-109 win over Toronto on April 3, both wins over the Knicks, the home wins over the Clippers and Warriors, beating Milwaukee in triple-overtime.
WMBN: Brook Lopez’s total domination during the second half of the season and playoffs. Watching the big fella overcome his early season rust to play at the highest level of his career was a rewarding experience for any Net fan. Hopefully, we will get to see more of it next year.