About a week from now, by my best estimation, we will have an answer on whether Phil Jackson is going to be the next coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
In 16 unlikely years as a point guard who was shorter and lighter than his program listing of 5-10, 175, Avery Johnson overachieved slowly – but doggedly.
When he finished his college career at Southern University, a historically black college in Baton Rouge, La., Johnson found 25 disinterested NBA teams.
He had led the nation in assists with 13.3 a game and he was a showman – a miniature Magic Johnson with no-look assists and cross-court bounce passes to open teammates. But in 1988, 75 players were taken in the three-round draft and Johnson was not one of them.
It took only a couple of hours for the mainstream media to dismiss the possibility of Phil Jackson coaching the Brooklyn Nets.
We here were of the exact opposite opinion early Friday evening — and the MSM came along for the ride by the end of the night.
The James Harden trade is a week old now, and while the book is obviously not yet written on what it’ll mean for everyone involved, we have a bit of a clearer picture than we did last Sunday.
Harden has looked like a true superstar in Houston, dropping 82 points over his first two games, including a career-high 45. The outlook for the Thunder is a little more murky, but they haven’t shown a disastrous dropoff so far. We’ve got several stories looking at the Harden trade today, along with all the latest NBA news.
We’ve also got a couple new columns up today: first is Jan Hubbard’s take on the future of the Steve Nash-less Suns, and also, after the Knicks topped the Sixers in today’s early game, Moke Hamilton wrote about how this is the Knicks’ best start in 14 years.
Now, today’s links:
- Royce Young of CBSSports.com writes about how the Thunder are reacting, chemistry-wise, to the James Harden trade: “There was a certain tightness, an incredible closeness between the Thunder’s young core and losing a key piece like Harden should obviously disturb some of that togetherness and chemistry. The hole left by Harden’s departure might be unfilled — Kevin Martin’s locker is well away from Harden’s old digs — but Scott Brooks has no choice but to move his team forward and focus on the goal. ‘James [Harden] was a good player,’ Brooks said. ‘Don’t get me wrong. But he wasn’t Dr. James. He wasn’t helping the group stick together. All the guys do. Russell, Kevin, down the line, Perk, Nick. All the guys. That’s what makes good teams.’ “
(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.