Until the Nets win an NBA title, this was the high point of the team’s history in Brooklyn ...
Brooklyn is making a clean sweep tonight: Brooklyn will sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
There were hints of course the week before that it could happen but when the Woj Bomb of Woj Bombs exploded, long-time Nets fans laughed (uproariously), cried (shamelessly) and in general felt the Brooklyn Nets had finally arrived. Sean Marks, architect of the Nets resurgence, was deified.
And now ... a year later?
At the moment, it’s not so good. The three players who agreed to sign a year ago are all out. Kevin Durant, who no one (okay, maybe a few of us) expected to play, is still rehabbing. Kyrie Irving, who played only 20 games, is too, after shoulder surgery. And just a day before the anniversary, DeAndre Jordan announced he has tested positive for a disease no one could have imagined a year ago, joining the player who recruited Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie...
BUT WAIT! As Joe Johnson said in another context five years ago, It’s not that bad here!
For openers, KD and Kyrie are still Nets (last I checked) and are expected to be fully healthy come November when teams return to camp for the 2020-21 season. Caris LeVert when asked to carry the load did so with aplomb, racking up his first 50-point game and first triple double in a four-game stretch before the shutdown. Dinwiddie is in good spirits despite his symptoms. Not to mention, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, Nicolas Claxton, etc. etc.
The Nets are in very, very good shape going forward. Despite everything that’s happened since last October, they have a roster built to win and win big. Other than Joe Harris (and probably Tyler Johnson), all of their key players are under contract for two or more years. They have at least one first and one second rounder in every draft going forward.
While their payroll is high, so are their resources. Their owner is the second wealthiest in the NBA and he’s said he plans to devote more of his time, attention and money to his sports teams. They play in New York in one of the NBA’s best and most modern arenas, practice in what is arguably the best training center. And that front office that brought you KD and Kyrie, drafted LeVert and developed Dinwiddie and Harris is still intact.
Their reputation in the league is better than it’s ever been. Players want to play in Brooklyn, for an organization with a record of unmatched compassion and community involvement, exemplified by owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai’s gift of 2,000 ventilators and hundreds of thousands of Personal Protective Equipment and his endorsement of peaceful demonstrations at Barclays Center.
Their hometown, Brooklyn, is not only hip or cool or hip hop. It’s been steeled by its experience as the epicenter of both a worldwide pandemic and of New York’s outrage at the killings of young black men and women. “Brooklyn Strong” is not a marketing slogan. It is a fact.
Yes, there are blemishes. The dumping of Kenny Atkinson was not among the organization’s finest moments. There were and continue to be recriminations about how it hurt the culture that is the cornerstone of it all. Not to mention that the organization will have a critical decision in replacing him ... and soon. Some still sting —or worse— over Tsai’s defense of China’s reaction to Daryl Morey’s tweet.
Compared to other teams, even their health situation is not that bad. Four Kings have tested positive. Three Pelicans, too. The biggest star to test positive in this round is Nikola Jokic, not a Net.
So, in thinking about the past, present and future of the franchise, it’s good to take a breath ... and a sip. On this dark evening of pandemics and protests, think back to how you felt a year ago. Laugh a little, cry some too if you want. But know, it’s not that bad here!
- Nets can still get the last laugh after bizarre 12 months - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- A Year After Free Agent Splash, What Should Nets Do Next? - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN