The message was clear in Kenny Atkinson's response to one of the first questions at Monday's press conference. What is your vision for the team? The Nets knew coach was asked.
"Build. Build patiently, intelligently, and from my standpoint, the message that these guys are gonna be hearing is that we're gonna put a competitive group first and foremost on the floor." he said.
No predictions of win totals or playoff possibilities, but as the press conference wore on and reporters spoke at length to Atkinson and Sean Marks, there were touches of optimism and as Andy Vasquez writes, respectability.
Atkinson spoke of "optimism" and said he hoped he could give the fans something to believe in. Barring some surprising developments, there was talk as well about maintaining the core, a bunch of 20-somethings from 21-year=old Chris McCullough to 28-year-old Brook Lopez. Some continuity.
There was also talk of a new model, the Portland Trail Blazers, who pundits left for dead last summer after the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, the front office made some smart moves and wound up in the second round of the playoffs, acquiring and developing supposedly flawed players
"Of course", as Vasquez writes, "the Nets don’t have an emergent superstar in Damian Lillard. They don’t have good draft picks or deep talent."
Still, it's obvious from Monday's press conference and Marks' pronouncements that there is a plan and it involves finding the diamond in the rough wherever they may be and developing free agents --and your current roster.
And as Thaddeus Young said, the players have bought in and want to help
"I definitely have" been tapped to recruit players, Young said. "I’m not at liberty to say who, but we definitely want top tier guys and we definitely want key guys, key aspects of what we need to win basketball games — which is a point guard and a wing." .
One league source not associated with the Nets told NetsDaily that he thought with some smart moves -- particularly at point guard and on the bench -- "they could win 40." He also likes the hires of Marks and Atkinson.
Sounds optimistic. but as Atkinson said, ""I’m an optimist. I’d like to think with a good group of guys and a couple good veterans that we could compete. And I’m not going to give a number, but there’s surprises in this league every year. All the sudden a team, for whatever reason, [wins]."