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Let’s go ‘ets! Mets and Nets failed attempts at superteams similar but not identical

It’s been bad for Nets and Mets fans with dashed dreams and rebuilding underway. Are the situations the same? Brian Lewis thinks so.

Now that the dust has cleared after the major league baseball trade deadline, it’s not surprising that the Mets superteam collapse is being compared with what happened to the Nets back in February.

Both teams dumped superstars — the Mets their two 39-year-old Cy Young Award pitchers in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, along with a number of others, the Nets their two 30-something NBA champions Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, then more recently Joe Harris and Patty Mills. In return, both teams went for youth, the Mets choosing to bulk up their minor league capital, the Nets going for players like Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson and adding draft picks. (You can’t trade picks in the MLB.) Both payrolls shrank dramatically.

In the end, the billionaire owners of the two ‘ets teams, Steve Cohen and Joe Tsai, had hoped for the best teams money could buy, but learned money wasn’t enough. So both are looking at rebuilds or retooling that look like two-year-long efforts ... at a minimum.

So, how similar are the Mets and Nets situations. Brian Lewis took a look this week. Bottom line for him: there was similarities, but the two situations are far from identical.

By the end, the Mets knew a bad bet when they saw it. Verlander is 40, Scherzer 39. Cohen had guaranteed almost a half-billion dollars to free agents, taking on a record projected $370 million payroll.

With their age and historic spending, the Mets were always World Series-or-bust. The Nets, on the other hand, were supposed to last.

Durant and Irving were in their primes when they inked four-year deals in 2019, and formed a Big 3 with James Harden in 2020-21. With Tsai willing to pay the second-highest luxury-tax bill in NBA history, Brooklyn councilmember Robert Cornegy Jr. was already mapping a parade route down Flatbush.

He sees the Mets as a rebuild, the Nets more a retooling.

Both teams were hurt by injuries which will bring down the best made plans of any team owner, governor whatever you want to call them.

Verlander missed the first month of the season with a teres major strain. There was also Pete Alonso’s wrist and bone bruise, Starling Marte’s migraines and closer Edwin Diaz missing the season with a fluke knee injury sustained while celebrating at the World Baseball Classic.

The Nets had injuries too, whether it was Durant’s MCL sprains in both of his last two seasons or Irving’s severely sprained ankle in the 2021 series vs. the Bucks or Harden’s issues with his hamstring, no doubt a function of his conditioning ... or lack of same. Of course, the Nets had something that the Mets didn’t: Irving’s constant flirtations with controversy whether it was his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 despite a city mandate, his oddly timed appreciation of a 20-year-old video from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones or his publicizing of a video filled with antisemitic tropes.

Now, both teams are looking ahead to 2025 as their next milestone. Moreover, they seem to have abandoned, at least for the moment, their infatuation with superstars and are hoping for the best from their newly acquired minor leaguers in the Mets case and their young and reasonably priced young stars plus a wealth of draft picks in the Nets.

That said, Cohen and Tsai still have enormous wealth. They are the two richest sports owners in New York. Forbes most recent estimate of Cohen’s wealth puts him at around $17.5 billion, Tsai’s a little less than half that. So, the temptation to spend will always be present. Of course, so will the bitter memory of what went wrong.