The five year plan failed. The Brooklyn Nets failed to get past the conference semifinals, and lost twice in the first round. Now it’s time to think about moving forward with the shackles of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams’ contracts, and generally trying to rebuild or retool without any draft picks.
You don’t have to build through the draft. Actually, throwing all your chips at draft picks isn’t a very smart way of business. It’s relying on luck, nothing more. The Nets felt draft picks were unnecessary when they assembled their super expensive roster that included Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett that are no longer there. Deron Williams is still here, and the Nets still owe him $43.3 million over the next two seasons, which includes an early termination option, which isn’t likely to be used. Joe Johnson has one more season left on his deal worth $24.8 million.
Now Johnson and Williams aren’t bad players, but they’re both on the wrong side of 30, with Williams often injured and hurting, rarely looking like an All-Star point guard he still should have been at this point. It’s not bad to have them on the roster, even as starters, but they eat so much cap space it’s hard to think of them as anything but a disturbance towards clearing the debris and starting something new. At least the Nets have 2016 to look forward to, when the Salary Cap will get a serious bump, while they’ll be enjoying a lot of available cap space.
The Nets’ players don’t think the future is that dire. They see guys like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Brook Lopez (player option) and Thad Young (ETO) and think things aren’t that bad. Sure, no one here screams superstar. Lopez might be an All-Star caliber player (in the East), but just like Williams, he has very short bursts of being completely healthy before something hurting him somewhere on his big, injury-filled body.
This team wasn’t put together to win for a long time. It’s life expectancy was always going to be a year or two of trying to go through a very small window and somehow get a championship or at least have a crack at one. But that never materialized, and the Nets are now a weird mix of old and young without anything too exciting to rely on, as at least one more season of a first round in the playoffs as their ceiling, not to mention the bland, depressing basketball that’s often coming out of the combination Lionel Hollins tries to generate.
There are many ways to build teams in the league; a lot of different approaches. The way the Nets went always fails, because paying someone like a maximum salary player doesn’t actually make him being worth that money. The Nets can be optimistic about certain things, but they can also look at how most of the 2000’s went for the New York Knicks and feel afraid that the future from across the river isn’t that much of an impossible one for them.