Brooklyn Nets head honcho Mikhail Prokhorov is one of the richest NBA team owners, coming in third to Steve Ballmer of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Portland Trail Blazers’ Paul Allen. Prokhorov is estimated to be worth close to $11 billion.
Having the financial support of a billionaire still hasn’t guaranteed that the Nets will be a successful team, however. It just means they have a bigger appetite for risk – and sometimes this risk doesn’t come with a reward.
— Sean Kilpatrick Jr (@SeanKilpatrick) September 5, 2016
Where did things go wrong?
On July 12th, 2013, the Nets acquired Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, and D.J. White from the Boston Celtics for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and three first-round draft picks. There’s a few alarm bells that should have been going off when news of this trade broke.
The first is that Pierce and Garnett may have been critical components of a Championship team, but even at the time of the trade they were pretty old. Neither of them are on the Nets anymore, but Garnett is 40 and Pierce is 38 this year. Getting talent in the twilight of their career is a short-sighted move in and of itself…but it gets worse.
The Nets traded three first-round draft picks (2014, 2016 and 2018) and the right to swap their first-round picks in 2017. Not only did they get talent that has an upcoming expiration date, they prolonged any rebuilding period and shot themselves in the foot if this trade didn’t pan out.
At the time, Mikhail Prokhorov said, “Today, the basketball gods smiled on the Nets.”
“With the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, we have achieved a great balance on our roster between veteran stars and young talents. This team will be dazzling to watch, and tough to compete against.”
Well, whatever basketball gods Prokhorov was talking about were probably more of a cursed monkey paw.
This blockbuster trade was by all means a gutsy move and I liked it. The Nets had just moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey in 2012 and wanted to start out strong, and I can appreciate that. There was a point that the Nets were actually pretty fun to watch and you could expect to see them on SportsCenter most days.
Since their move to Brooklyn, the Nets have been to the playoffs all but once. Brooklyn is an area where most residents can afford to pay more for basketball tickets, and the arrival of the team would be enough to get people to start turning out for games. The huge bet to create a powerful, winning roster from the start didn’t have to be made.
A preview of the Nets coming into next season: https://t.co/NPNxp5a3Jf
— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) September 5, 2016
The Nets may possibly be in the worst shape of any team in the NBA. They don’t have a franchise player, they don’t have much trading material, they don’t own a No.1 pick until 2019, and they don’t have any young talent they can cultivate with a huge upside. The opposite is true with their rival Boston Celtics, who were able to build a roster with young talent and attract All-Star Al Horford.
So what does the future look like for the rag-tag Brooklyn Nets? With point guard Jeremy Lin and a pretty decent center in Brook Lopez, they will probably get close to their 2015-2016 win percentage of .256.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 30, 2016
As far as the playoffs go, the Nets are unlikely to qualify, and if they do, they probably will not make it past the first round because the Eastern Conference is starting to get highly competitive.
Retaining all the Nets fans that the organization tried to win early on might also prove difficult – a high-caliber team with a winning shot at a Championship is only a subway ride away.