Brooklyn Nets Have Come Full Circle With Hapless New Jersey Days


The short window of opportunity has slammed shut on the Brooklyn Nets, as has the honeymoon period in the Borough of Churches. This is a franchise that has been basically visitors in their own home arena whilst in the Garden State and it has shown to be a difficult task winning over the fans in New York City with the Knicks still being the top draw, even though they, too, have fallen on hard times.

The Nets’ fortunes actually began quite well three years ago when they moved to the Barclays Center, winning 49 games and qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The front office traded for Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks and re-signed Deron Williams to a five-year, $98.7 million contract and the product on the court was an exciting and winning one, finishing in second place in the Atlantic Division behind the Knicks. But they lost a tough seven-game opening round series to the Chicago Bulls.

A year later, general manager Billy King hired the popular Jason Kidd as a rookie head coach and pulled off a blockbuster three-team trade that landed the Nets Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. This pushed the team’s payroll to the top of the league, so obviously the expectations rose.

Although they finished second again (this time to the Toronto Raptors, with the Knicks dropping back to third place), the Nets actually won five less games than the previous season but were able to advance to the second round of the playoffs. They ousted the aforementioned Raptors in seven games and then had to face the tough Miami Heat, who won the series in five games.

This past summer, Kidd surprised everyone by forcing a trade to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Nets tabbed Lionel Hollins as his replacement on the bench. Pierce left as a free agent, the team has fallen on hard times (18-27) and there is talk of King holding a fire sale and clearing the roster by the trading deadline. Besides that, owner Mikhail Prokhorov would like to sell the team.

The Nets traded away their first round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 in the Garnett-Pierce-Terry deal, so that will be an issue now and in the next few years. They clearly need to rebuild and clear cap space before any talk of the postseason is brought up.

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It’s hard to knock the Nets for making the moves that they did, considering that they had a legitimate opportunity to bring in talented players who have earned rings with other organizations that had something left in the tank. But they didn’t get the job done and this is what was usually the case during the New Jersey days.

Even when those teams did make the NBA Finals in two consecutive seasons (2001-02, 2002-03), they could not sell out the IZOD Center, their home at the time. The team’s primary color changed from blue to black when they relocated to Brooklyn, and it appears that there are some dark days ahead for them.

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