The Nets made a smart move this week by scheduling their press conference to introduce Kenny Atkinson for Monday. Atkinson's vision --and the location, the HSS Training Center-- should get the Nets some positive vibes around the metropolitan area.
Then, Tuesday, the era of good feelings will dissipate. That's the night of the NBA Draft Lottery, which takes place in Manhattan. The second of the three first round picks --and one first round swap-- sent to Boston in 2013 will be ceremoniously surrendered to the Celtics. Boston has a 15.6 percent chance of landing the overall No. 1 pick, likely to be 6'9" Ben Simmons of LSU, and a 46.9 percent chance of being a top three pick.
If the Celtics get that overall No. 1, it will be the big news out of the lottery and Nets fans will never hear the end of it. Call it "King's karma," if it happens.
As Andy Vasquez of the Record writes Thursday, "If Nets fans can even bring themselves to watch, they’ll do so with hands over their eyes and a sick feeling in their stomach. It’s the day they continue to find out just how costly the trade was for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce."
The way we've always understood things, the 2014 pick was for KG, the 2016 pick was for Pierce, the 2018 pick was the Celtics price for taking on Gerald Wallace's $30 million deal, needed to make the deal work. The swap in 2017? It may have been the way to reward Boston for agreeing to a sign-and-trade for Keith Bogans, who the Celtics had to pay $5.2 million in 2013-14.
So far, the trade has not been that costly, other than the missing championship rings, of course The first pick sent to Boston, the No. 17 choice in 2014, became James Young, a 6'6" swingman out of Kentucky who's been close to a bust . He may not last the off-season in Boston. And the Nets were able to swing a deal for KG, bringing back Thaddeus Young who's worked out well.
But if the Nets don't turn things around next season, it only gets worse. While this year's draft is seen as top heavy, next year's is already being seen as top-flight. The only hope is that by 2018, the Nets will be out of the lottery.
Again, as Vasquez writes, "Maybe by then it won’t hurt as badly. Perhaps Atkinson and Marks will have built the Nets back to respectability through free agency, player development and good scouting. But at the moment, it feels as if 2019 can’t come soon enough."