The Brooklyn Nets organization is in utter disarray. They recently fired their head coach Lionel Hollins. They “re-assigned” general manager Billy King. They lost their starting point guard to an injury. They have the 2nd worst record in the Eastern Conference (11-28) and they won’t make it to this year’s playoffs. To add salt to their wounds, they don’t have a first round pick until 2019 and they don’t have viable players to trade for a superstar.
The blame lies squarely on Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov who took over the franchise in May 2010. He promised a championship in just five years and instructed Billy King to implement it. This “win now at all costs” edict led to the acquisition and signing of marginal and overpaid the stars (Deron Williams and Joe Johnson) who simply did not have the talent to carry an NBA team. And to build his “champion” team, King traded away 1 -yes 11-first round draft picks including picks that turned out to be Derrick Favors and Damian Lillard.
Prokhorov also signed off on the deal that sent players and three first round draft picks (2014, 2016, and 2018) including the right to swap a first round pick in 2017 to the Boston Celtics for over-the-hill veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry in the 2013-2014 season. That team got out of the first round of the playoffs but got whipped by Miami in the second round. All these veterans have moved on, no longer with the Nets despite the high cost to get them. Incidentally, the Nets spent a record $91 million in luxury taxes during that season in an effort to win now.
Fast-forward to 2016 and the Nets have become the laughing stock of the league. Prok-horov spent another $400 million in December to make him the sole owner of the Nets and Barclays Center. He owned 80% of the team and 45% of Barclays Center before.
Despite all this money, the Brooklyn Nets are a ship without a rudder. They are currently looking for a new GM and coach. For GM, they have their sights set on former Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns general manager Bryan Colangelo, a former two-time NBA Executive of the Year. They are also pursuing top available coaches namely former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau or former Warriors coach Mark Jackson.
Even if they get these top honchos, the Nets have a long way to go. They basically threw away their future and don’t have the necessary assets to trade. The only silver lining is that they will have $40 million in cap space next summer to pursue a superstar to join their core of Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, and Bojan Bogdanovic. However, the idea that a swanky new arena and practice facility and a new borough would encourage stars to join this dysfunctional team was a massive failure.
The Nets have pressed the reset button but only time will tell if this will be successful. Championship teams are built on quality players who buy in to the system and the culture set by the head coach and management. Sadly, the Nets have none of those.