(SportsNetwork.com) - Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett still had tread on the
proverbial tires when they headed down the Northeast Corridor from Boston to
Brooklyn this offseason.
Not that the Nets needed more ammunition after grabbing the fourth seed in
last season's NBA playoffs, but Pierce and Garnett were supposed to make
Brooklyn that much more competitive in the Eastern Conference.
If a 2-5 record is competitive, then a reality check is in store for you.
That may be too harsh so early in the NBA season, but what else were Nets fans
expecting? Mr. Russian money bags Mikhail Prokhorov, who reminds me of the
underrated Val Kilmer movie "The Saint" every time I hear his name, made the
move to acquire Pierce, Garnett and even Jason Terry for players barely worthy
of a mention.
You can't fault Prokhorov for making the moves because it fills empty seats at
brand new Barclays Center and the Nets gave up three first-round draft picks,
which will most likely come to use at the bottom of the round because Brooklyn
still has Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Even Prokhorov's
compatriot Andrei Kirilenko will come off the bench with Terry.
But so far all is not well in the 11217 area code.
As soon as the trigger was pulled on the blockbuster trade, the Nets became
instant favorites to compete for one of the top three spots in the East. Makes
sense. The Miami Heat experienced the same high expectations when LeBron James
and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade.
It even brought back memories of Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who landed Garnett
and Ray Allen to play alongside Pierce in Boston. And how did that work out
for the Celtics? Well, the Boston Three Party captured the last NBA title for
a city that will struggle for some time watching hoops.
At least the New England area has the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins.
Brooklyn, though, has Boston's aging leftovers and it's uncertain when this
band of brothers will develop chemistry. With a payroll north of $100 million,
it's NBA Finals or bust for the Nets, who were predicted to compete with
Miami, Indiana, Chicago and New York for a second straight season.
Not quite, however.
One can't blame the Nets for jumping at the chance to grab some players who
can still make a difference even though they're past their primes. Nobody on
the Nets pulled a Vince Young and called this unit a "dream team." It was
pretty darn good a season ago with just Williams, Johnson, Lopez and Gerald
Wallace. Wallace was one of the bodies sent to Beantown.
So how are those new faces in Brooklyn doing? Pierce is actually second on the
team with 13.4 points per game and Garnett, who needs plenty of rest for those
aging knees, is posting an average of 6.0 points, but a team-best 6.9 rebounds
per game. Terry isn't the Sixth Man of the Year candidate he once was and is
averaging 5.9 ppg.
Can the Nets find a way to work together and go on a tear? Sure, but it's
going to take some time. Luckily they're in the Eastern Conference where teams
with .500 records or worse actually have a chance to grab one of the last two
or three seeds by early summer.
Brooklyn is currently on a three-game western jaunt and opened the trip with
Wednesday's 107-86 loss at Sacramento. The Nets, who trailed by as many as 23
points in that one, are 0-5 this season in games which they've been outscored
in the third quarter and winless on the road (0-4).
"There's a process that we have to go through," Nets head coach Jason Kidd
said of the team's struggles. "This is something that you're going to go
through as a team at some point in the season it just happens that we're going
through it a little bit earlier than we expected."
Patience is a virtue.
Fans can't expect things to jell overnight and there are plenty of nights left
for Brooklyn to coagulate and leave its disappointing start in the dust.
The Sports Network