7/9/08

Offseason to-do list: Nets by guest writer Charlie Falck

Charlie Falck is one of the few people you can talk to who can talk about the NFL, MLB, and NBA and actually have a well informed and coherent argument with. Although he calls New Jersey home his mother's former residence in San Diego gives him a connection to root for the San Diego Chargers. He is also as much of a Knicks fan as you can find these days. It is a person like Charlie that will give you one of those wake up calls telling you that you do not know as much about sports as you think you do. He can switch the conversation from the NFL to the NBA on a dime and with his radio-like voice, unlike many sports arguments, can actually persuade you. He has some interesting thoughts about what the Nets need to do to be successful. He concedes that they won't be good this year, but he writes this piece under the assumption that the Nets will go after/get Lebron in the 2010 free agency market. He says that if you don't think that will happen, he doesn't want you reading this column anyway. His analysis and prediction for the long term future for the Nets and, for a franchise that has constantly been in limbo, it actually makes sense.

The New Jersey Nets have made a commitment to change this offseason, having transformed Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson into a flashy bunch including Devin Harris, Mo Ager, Bobby Simmons, Yi, Brook Lopez, the memory of Keith Van Horn, a future first rounder, 10 million in cash, and whatever else will comprise Lebron James’ second substandard supporting cast in as many franchises in 2010. Although the Kidd trade will go down as a victory for New Jersey over Dallas, the deal did little to alter the Nets’ course for the future. There are, however, a couple intriguing subplots surrounding this team prior to King James’ arrival.

The Search for Scottie

Until I see anything different, no team built around a star player can win a championship without at least one competent sidekick Although Lebron does his best every spring to combat that theory, considering even the development of a mid-range/post-up game couldn’t possibly elevate his all-around numbers much more (can they?), the Nets should spend the next couple summers looking for a suitable Robin while simultaneously keeping adequate cap space. There are two in-house candidates with the potential to provide that. The obvious choice is Mr. Carter. Barring trades, Lebron and Vince would both be Nets for at least the 2010-2011 season. That will provide Carter a chance to show how well he can really play if interested, as well as give a gauge as to how well Lebron plays with another proven scorer. That is a potentially fascinating season for numerous other reasons, but it deserves its own column. The second candidate is Sean Williams, mainly for the fact that he’s only been playing organized basketball for five years. He and Lebron could combine for the most athletic 3-4 combo in NBA history, and considering Lebron tends to at the least give his teammates every opportunity to contribute, Williams could easily end up as an All-Star caliber forward in the East in a few years (provided he grows up). However, if Carter appears so disinterested the Nets would rather just free up more cap and Williams doesn’t improve, they must decide whether to explore outside options or just wait and build around Lebron after he arrives. It would be wise for New Jersey to exercise some patience for several reasons.

1. Outside of the Nets becoming a worse team than both the Knicks and Cavs, Lebron is coming. Once he gets there the Nets can work out the kinks and suit the team a little more to his interests.

2. At best, making a move for a sidekick would culminate in the Nets committing to a player that Lebron may or may not approve of before he arrives. At worst, it would most likely saddle the team with a bad contract, mess up whatever chemistry the current team might cook up, and create another weak supporting cast that Lebron will valiantly lead to playoff elimination for years to come.

3. Given the state of the team now, the Nets can afford to be patient. In addition to hiding behind the laughable moniker of “Eastern conference contender,” the Nets will be able to attract fans and make decent money in the next two years. They’re team isn’t good, but as long as Yi is marketable and not awful he’ll put fans in the seats, and New jersey still has star power with Carter. The Nets will figure to play an exciting, up-tempo style (more on that below) and should have no problem at least matching what sales have been the last two years.

Split Personality

As of today, the Nets roster is bloated to the point where you could form two wonderfully average teams. While this does not add up to anything good, the collection of players does provide options for a style of play. The opening night depth chart could go something like this:

1-Devin Harris, Marcus Williams
2-Vince Carter, Bobby Simmons, Mo Ager
3-Yi, CDR, Bostjian Nachbar
4-Sean Williams, Ryan Anderson
5-Josh Boone, Brook Lopez

Once you all collect your breath after viewing that Murderer’s Row, consider the contrast in styles evident in an rotation of Harris, Williams, VC, Simmons, Yi, CDR, Williams, Boone, and Lopez. Harris is built to push and would do so with athletes like Carter, CDR, and Sean Williams, and maybe even Boone. Williams is built to plod, as are Lopez, Yi, and Carter if he feels like it. The more effective strategy would be to run. This team will not finish above .500 and probably not even make the playoffs (it’s extremely depressing to rank those statements that way), and focusing on defense and half-court offense not only doesn’t cater to the strengths of the principal players, it probably won’t lead to anything because the only way the team would be any good next year is if they became more acclimated to Harris and his preferred pace. No matter how many times Lawrence the Leprechaun calls Vince Carter a leader, this is a team of largely passive basketball personalities. Whenever that happens, leadership deflects to the primary ball handler.

Prediction: As always, these predictions are useless. .500 would be a dream for this team, and it would take a 2000 Vince Carter to get them there. Assuming a few injuries take their toll, look for the Nets to start very slow but show some promise after the All-Star break. As long as Vince doesn’t mail it in, look for Devin Harris to emerge as a leader once he gets a full year running the team under his belt, as well as flashes from Williams, general idiocy from Lopez, and one-dimensional scoring performances from Yi.

MVP: Harris
Surprise: Boone
Disappointment: CDR
35-47, 10th in East

-Charlie

Izzy

Links: Brandon Jennings is going overseas. I wrote about this issue last month and expected this to happen. This seems like a very slippery slope that no one seems to care about.

The Big Lead links us to two stories, one by the Toronto Star and another by ESPN the Mag, and they talk about how NBA players dry up their fortune. The Big Lead raises an interesting question on the story by asking the question why NBA players are always the ones that are mentioned in wasting their salaries? Is is that we have a preconceived stereotype that NBA players are inherently incapable of managing their small fortunes to a much lesser extent than any other athletes?

Remember Anthony Mason? Hoops Addict recaps his career and gives a little update on him.

Lebron, CP3, Darnell Jackson, +2 others, lost in a pickup game at Lebron's bball camp?!

Doc River's oldest son played for Georgetown last season and has announced that he will transfer to Indiana, but Rivers' youngest son has already agreed to play for Billy Donovan's Florida Gator's. He will be starting his sophomore high school season next year.


Picture sources: armchairgm.com(first), askmen.com (second), xxlmag.com (third), nydailynews.com

1 comment:

Christopher said...

charlie have you been vaping again? sean williams will never be anything close to an all star caliber forward