Brett Yormark and the Nets’ marketing team never drew up this scenario. The off-season fantasies involving New York dominance went up in smoke Thursday night at the Barclays Center in front of a national audience.
The Brooklyn crowd featured a tremendous amount of blue and orange, not to mention derogatory chants aimed at both Kevin Garnett and the Nets team as a whole. So much for all those Net guarantees.
The New York Knicks marched into the Nets’ house and wiped the floor with them to the tune of 113-83. Ironically, Jason Kidd, the embattled Nets coach, and the players made no mention of the title talk that dominated the papers during the offseason.
Kidd did offer excuses, though.
“I think you get evaluated by being whole,” Kidd said. “It starts there. Once that occurs, then you’re evaluated and that’s as simple as it gets.”
Although Kidd denied any accountability for this mess, his players faced the music. Certainly not the result they expected during the off-season, however.
There was no chest bumping, no trash talking, and no empty promises. Instead, the Nets’ locker room featured a bevy of long faces and unanswerable questions.
“I have no clue,” Alan Anderson offered. “If I knew that, we wouldn’t be losing.”
Anderson did question his teammates’ vocal support of each other.
“Our communication’s not there as a team; It has to be everybody,” Anderson added. “With this team, it’s weird because we all get along. We don’t have (any) guys that don’t like each other. We all get along.”
While the players don’t have to answer for this mess, the higher-ups should. That consensus includes Yormark, general manager Billy King, assistant general manager Bobby Marks, and any front office member responsible for allowing this trainwreck of a product to grace a billion-dollar arena.
“We just don’t have any chemistry at this point,” Joe Johnson said. “Offensively, we don’t really have an identity. We throw it down to Brook... and then just basically sit and watch.”
Management sold hype; they never sold a contender. This group threw money and marketing at a problem not designed for an overnight overhaul. Brooklyn fans bought the promises hook, line, and sinker, though.
Don’t for one second blame the players. Alan Anderson, Shaun Livingston, Tyshawn Taylor, and Andray Blatche never signed up for the leading role. Consider those players supporting actors while Nets management signed leading men no longer capable of winning Oscars.
The Nets put on a Broadway (Brooklyn?) production of “Last Vegas.”
Beyond all the fanfare and ticker-tape parades, the Nets scrapped together a team loaded with overpaid and injury-prone former superstars. Aside from Brook Lopez, no Net can honestly say their prime years lie ahead.
Don’t blame the injuries, either. This was a foreseeable event, not an act of God.
While no one expected the injuries to come this quickly, most anticipated them rearing their ugly head at some point.
Boston sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett packing not to help the Nets but to improve its own squad. Pierce and Garnett play like their age; they play like guys in the twilight of their careers. They can’t run the floor, they can’t defend like they used to, and for some reason, they can’t hit an open shot.
Add an unproven coach and the result is a 5-14 record for a team with the NBA’s highest payroll.
Even on this night, the Nets could not point to injuries. Iman Shumpert torched Joe Johnson for what amounted to arguably the best game of Shumpert’s season. For those forgetting, Johnson garners an annual salary of $19.6 million.
Amar’e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, and Andrea Bargnani also added the best games of their respective seasons. Brook Lopez spent much of the night guarding either Stoudemire or Bargnani and the Nets center is healthy. Lopez grabbed one defensive rebound in the game.
Garnett, as his been the case, offered little at either end.
Despite playing only 19 games, the Nets can hardly expect a quick turnaround. Why should anyone assume that these feeble Nets will suddenly become invincible creations of steel?
If that’s popular thinking, maybe there’s something to be said for common sense not being so common.