The Nets acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (and Jason Terry) from the Boston Celtics. In return, Boston received three first-round picks (2014, ’16 and ’18) along with Kris Humphries’ expiring contract, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks and a sign-and-traded Keith Bogans.
On paper, it appears Brooklyn made a HUGE upgrade to its roster. They got two superstars in Garnett and Pierce, and while they are on the downsides of their careers both can still play and contribute. It was painfully evident from Brooklyn’s playoff loss to the Chicago Bulls that it needed a big change in attitude and heart. Garnett alone will give the Nets both. Pierce would serve as a reliable go-to scoring threat, perhaps off the bench? More importantly, the Nets did not have to give up Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, nor Brooks Lopez in making the trade with Boston.
Having said all of that, there will be some growing pains while making all of the parts work.
As we all have seen time and time again in sports, having the most talented players does not always equal championships. Exhibit A: the 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers. When they acquired Karl Malone and Gary Payton, everyone (including yours’ truly) thought that the Lakers would eclipse Michael Jordan’s 1995-1996 Bulls’ 72-10 record. While the Lakers did make the NBA Finals, they were crushed by the less-talented Detroit Pistons four games to one.
Exhibit B: the 2010-2011 Miami Heat. That was Year One of the Big Three Era. Most thought that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would lead the Heat to an easy NBA title that season. Like the Lakers, the Heat made the NBA Finals, but was beaten by the less-talented Dallas Mavericks four games to two.
Look at the Nets’ new roster for a minute. Do you think there will be no problems sharing the basketball? Williams and Johnson are proud players who want their touches, as will Pierce and perhaps Terry. Plus, I am still not sold on Jason Kidd being a head coach in the NBA. Will he really be able to get all of those proud egos to buy into the team basketball concept? I am not so sure.
So for now, I’d still have the Bulls and the Indiana Pacers as the top threats to the Heat in the Eastern Conference. In fact, here is how I would rank the contenders in the East:
- Miami Heat
- Indiana Pacers
- Chicago Bulls
- Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks
As for Boston, they are officially in rebuilding mode. To the coach who has to follow former coach Doc Rivers and lead the now less-talented Celtics, you are in my prayers. You’re (and Celtics fans) are going to need it.-