A buddy of mine, YCSJ, and I have been discussing this over the summer….and now seems to be a great time to discuss it publicly. What in the world are the New Jersey Nets doing??
I don’t understand it one bit.
Since the team merged into the NBA in 1976, they’ve pretty much been 2nd [or 3rd] class citizens. You could count on them for some ugly uniforms, half-empty arena, and a playoff berth every now and then. They have one of the dumbest nicknames in sports history….and it rhymes with the Jets and Mets!!!! They had never won a playoff series……and were known more for having tie-dye uniforms than for anyone wearing them. Oh yeah, they also drafted Yinka Dare.
Well, Jason Kidd’s arrival a few years back made this Jersey team into something. Eastern Conference Champions to be exact. Twice. In a row. Think about it. The 2003 Nets almost took the Spurs to a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Now they are a broken franchise once again with little hope of getting back out of it.
They took a gamble and signed Alonzo Mourning. The gamble didn’t pay off at all….as Zo’s kidneys became a problem again. To make room for Zo, they waived Dikembe Mutombo….but that doesn’t mean they still don’t have to pay him. Then, a dangerous precedent was set when the Nets fired head coach Byron Scott mid season. Upon the promotion of Lawrence Frank to the head job…a quote was uttered “this is a guy we can play hard for”. So….you weren’t for Scott??
Also, the franchise will soon be in new hands….Brett Ratner. Ratner wants out of the swamp and in Brooklyn….which isn’t a bad idea. But he also wants to cut down payroll. Ugh….never a popular comment.
So, this off season has been horrid. They basically let Kenyon Martin…an All Star….go for basically peanuts. That set off a firestorm of people that were peeved…including Jason Kidd. All summer long we’ve heard about a deal that sends Kerry Kittles and his fat, final year, contract to Portland for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and his fat, final year, contract. I guess Ratner nixed that…and decided to sent Kittles to the Clipps for a future 2nd round pick. A SECOND ROUND PICK!?!?!? Soon, Richard Jefferson will need to get paid….and signs point to these moves are to free up money for that. But, do you really think that (a) Jefferson will even want to be there or (b) they’d pay him huge cheese and not Martin??
The sad thing is that the NBA is designed so this kind of stuff doesn’t happen. You have a luxury tax, salary cap and salary floor. It is designed to let teams now keep their young rising stars….or at least get something of value if they go elsewhere. Well…the Nets struck out on both accounts. Not only that…but now no one has any belief in the Nets or their new ownership.
The one positive for them is that they play in a division of broken franchises. Are the Celtics completely cursed?? Well, as long as Danny Ainge is calling the shots…..yes. The Raptors will be in St. Louis in a few years….and are rumored to be shipping Vince-anity to the Hornets for native son Jamaal Magliore. The Knicks are working day and night to get Jamaal Crawford for crying out loud. And no one wants to play with Iverson and the Sixers. So the Nets still run that division….for now.