The Brooklyn Nets aren’t necessarily a better team with the arrival of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, unless they can find a way to handle the issues of age and lack of depth. Without having a way to fix those glaring problems, their second summer of acquiring big contracts of veteran players will amount to not much more than a postseason appearance.
Money is clearly not an issue for the Nets and their ambitious owner, and neither is paying the luxury tax. The projected lineup, at the moment, is going to be Deron Williams (making $18.4 million next season), Joe Johnson (making $21.4 million), Paul Pierce ($15.3 million), Kevin Garnett ($12.4 million) and Brook Lopez ($14.6 million).
Three players in this lineup are over 30, with Pierce and Garnett not too far from their retirement days, and declining numbers in efficiency and shooting percentages. Pierce shot his worst in a decade (43.6%) from the field. Garnett looked exhausted from handling Tyson Chandler in the paint during the postseason, and although he’ll be back to playing at power forward, his injury problems and his slip on the defensive end is likely to continue.
Lopez and Williams? They’re in their primes, but Williams hasn’t played like the best point guard in the NBA (he was often mentioned as being) for quite some time. There are those that suggest it’s all about not being under Jerry Sloan, the man he pushed to resign two years ago, but it also has a lot to do with his injury problems that simply won’t go away.
Beyond that? There comes the real problem, and somewhat of a cautionary tale from what the Los Angeles Lakers went through last season. Reggie Evans is staying, while Jason Terry has been added to the mix. Terry’s form dipped considerably last season, his efficiency and per minute production numbers dropping in almost every category, and especially where it matters the most, in points.
Beyond that? That’s it. The Nets don’t have flexibility to improve their bench. All they can hope for is re-signing Andray Blatche, while rumors suggest they might also try and bring in Jason Collins through free agency. Mason Plumlee, the Duke center, was taken by the Nets in the first round of the draft. They’re trying to provide quite a lot of cover to their frontcourt, but they don’t have any cover for the small forward position, and aren’t likely to find anyone of high quality in the process.
The Nets did win 49 games last season, but they had P.J. Carlesimo (who deserved a new contract) to thank for bringing the team back together. Jason Kidd? He’s a lock for the hall of fame, but making him the head coach right off the bat is risky, especially on a team with quite a lot of ego, and only one ball to share among a starting five that has a projected usage-rate of 128%, meaning someone(s) is/are going to give up on quite a lot of touches.
Luck and health might be the biggest things factored into this. If Kidd can work the minutes right (Assuming he’ll have a bench that allows him to experiment), and no one gets injured for too long, the Nets are definitely are 50-win team. But challengers in the Eastern conference? The Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls (even with a less than 100% Derrick Rose) immediately look like better teams, before we even mention the New York Knicks, always impossible to predict.
The Nets might have gotten a bit more popular with some bigger names, and probably couldn’t have done more than acquiring two proven veterans, one of them still an All-Star caliber player, while getting rid of Gerlad Wallace and Kris Humphries, but the ceiling on this expensive project isn’t too high, and doesn’t make them look like a championship-caliber team for the foreseeable future.