(This is another in a series of 30 guest columns that will run in October, when optimism reigns supreme across the NBA. The theme will be “Five Reasons to Feel Positive About … ” We encourage you to follow the authors on Twitter and visit their sites. – CS)
New city. New arena. New uniforms. New team. These aren’t your New Jersey Nets anymore.
When the 2012-13 NBA season tips off and you see the black-and-white-clad Brooklyn Nets playing on their new herringbone court at the Barclays Center, you may think they are an expansion team. Far from it. You may recognize some faces from previous years like Deron Williams, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez, but the Nets went thorough with a significant overhaul during the offseason, adding Joe Johnson and re-signing late-season acquisition Gerald Wallace.
It may seem like maintaining the status quo to re-sign the core of a team that went 22-44 last season. But Lopez was injured for most of the season and Wallace was acquired at the trade deadline, appearing in just a handful of games for the Nets. Completing their offseason, the Nets signed an unknown commodity in Euroleague star Mirza Teletovic, as well as bringing in a few established veterans on minimum contracts.
Some of the players may be the same, but there is definitely a new vibe and optimism for this changing franchise. Nothing rang truer this offseason than “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.”
Here are five reasons to feel positive about the Nets:
Out of the swamp and into the limelight. Moving to Brooklyn has rapidly changed the look of the franchise. From the Barclays Center to new uniforms, Brooklyn has this fan base and the NBA abuzz. After toiling in obscurity with low attendance and moving from the Meadowlands to the Prudential Center, the Nets finally have a permanent home that will attract fans.
It has already attracted players; Andray Blatche, C.J. Watson and Josh Childress all chose to sign with Brooklyn for the veteran’s minimum, something that would have NEVER happened in New Jersey. There has never been more hype on a league-wide scale than right now (which includes SI covers and NBA TV’s “The Association,” which will follow the Nets this season), and you can attribute much of it to the Brooklyn move.
2. Mikhail Prokhorov
The NBA’s salary cap structure strongly benefits teams whose owners have deep pockets and aren’t afraid to spend. Enter Mikhail Prokhorov. Not only is he unafraid to throw around money to improve the team, but his brazen attitude should filter down throughout the organization.
Nets faithful knew we were going to love our new owner when he said he planned to “turn Knicks fans into Nets fans” and referred to Knicks owner James Dolan as “that little man.
3. The Dwightmare is over
For nearly two years, Nets fans endured the “Dwightmare.” Dwight Howard wants to come to Brooklyn, but he wants to stay in Orlando. Dwight wants to come to Brooklyn, but Orlando doesn’t love the Nets’ trade assets. Dwight wants to come to Brooklyn, but he doesn’t want to be traded. Dwight waives his ETO. Dwight wants to come to Brooklyn again.