The Nets have a plethora of chips on their shoulders, both collective and individual this season. After an off-season filled with controversy, uncertainty and mutual accusations, Brooklyn has two things to make it happen: a talent on paper and a need to remind everyone who they are.
Let’s start with the team itself. Disappointment would be the least offensive word one could devote to last season. Having been the favorite to win it all, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden formed the “Big Three” of future Hall of Famers. They won 44 matches. One of the three, Harden, made his way out; Another refused to receive a vaccination during a national health crisis, limiting the number of matches he played to 29 and arguably the best player in the league again lost a lot of games due to injury.
The head coach, who had struggled with the change and questions about his ability to tell x and o’s, seemed ready to quit at some points and frustration was the general manager’s face. Not to mention the property’s decision to put Kerry on the sidelines first, then send him back to work part-time. Yes, Yee, Yee.
This was just the regular season. There was a sweep on the hand Celticsthen Ben Simmons’ back surgery, Irving’s contract deadlock, KD Trading order etc., etc.
Now, it looks like things are on the Kumbaya stage with KD and Kyrie. New faces have been added and most of the team is working hard at HSS Training Center. So before things get started, let’s take a look at what will motivate the players, and what chips will fall on each player’s shoulders.
It all starts here. Durant was heavily criticized for his commercial demand with four years and $198 million left on the extension. Become the poster child to enable the player to be wrong, his representative if not his legacy tarnished. KD has shined a spotlight on those who are challenging that legacy but we all know who it is. It’s Kevin Durant and he knows it, he’ll want to prove it over and over again. We doubt he will also remember the teams that tried to weaken the nets in the trade talks. We’re talking about you, about Phoenix, and you, and New Orleans and you…etc, and so on. Perhaps his biggest challenge is durability and staying in the field. He played 90 games in three years. It will be the thirty-third day of the training camp.
No player on the Nets roster has faced as much criticism as Irving… oh, wait. I’m told we haven’t discussed Ben Simmons yet! Irving is notorious for refusing to vaccinate, and has been cited as not having been in all but 29 games – and justifiably so – of the Nets’ poor season. Although his numbers were strong when he played during the regular season and in Game 1 of the Celtics series, he was not in 53 games and was bankrupt in games 2-4 against Boston. Then there were negotiations over his contract. Shawn Marks said in his press conference at the end of the season that he wants players who are available and committed. Irving said he wants the full extension by nearly a quarter of a billion. Things got worse and it ended with an expired deal. The trade rumors only ended shortly before KD returned to the fold. He also has an expired deal on his shoe contract with Nike. No player has much to prove… Oh, sorry, we’ve been reminded again that we have to discuss Ben Simmons.
Let’s start with the obvious. He hasn’t played since June 20, 2021, and stuck first to getting an exit package from 76ers, then suffers from frequent back problems (dating back to 2020) and underwent surgery. The latest report from Shams Charania is that he has been in good shape but has yet to do a 5 on 5 workout in Brooklyn. Everyone says he’ll be ready to go when training camp starts on September 26th. Simmons has been the subject of more vitriol than any player in recent memory. a period. booed at US Open, for God! There are also mental health questions, but as Frank Isola pointed out, in that famous post-game press conference after the 76th loss to the Hawks, Simmons stayed on the podium until every question was answered. Despite conventional wisdom, he has a reservoir of solidity. November 22 cannot come fast enough. The less discussed issue is where it fits in with nets, in 1, in 5? in crime?
Now the wounded come. Joe Harris missed a total of 16 games over four years last season. Same durability model. After a severe ankle sprain on November 14, he underwent two surgeries, the first on November 29, and the second on March 3 after failed rehabilitation attempts. Two surgeries, two surgeons. It is also expected to be ready for training camp but has not been updated. The Nets, using Alex Schiffer’s word, have insisted on not wanting to swap out the 6’6″ 31-year-old who is second to teammate Seth Curry among the active 3-pointers.
Warren turns 29 on Monday and is just one year old, checking the bargain minimum. Over the past two years, he has played a total of four matches after sustaining a severe foot injury. He played those four matches in December 2020, then underwent surgery on January 5, 2021. It was not normal. The injury was a stress fracture of the canoe bone in his left foot. At the time, it was noted that the area of the injury – a boat-shaped bone in the middle of the foot – made the healing process difficult. It was hard. He didn’t play at all last season. The injury was particularly severe for Warren. This came after his impressive performance in “The Bubble” when he averaged 31 points over six games, including a 53-point game that earned him the nickname “Bubble Jordan.” He’s been training in HSS, but again there’s no word on where he’ll recover.
Edmond Sumner is vulnerable to injury. During his first year at Xavier, he played only six matches after chronic tendinitis in his knees forced him to withdraw from the team. In January of his freshman year, Sumner tore the ACL in his left knee, ending his January season. Then after playing well with Pacers In his third year at Indiana, he started 24 games, rupturing his Achilles tendon before the start of the season last year. Once again, it’s over. A 6’6″ hyper athletic guard who played a lot of points, was traded to the Nets as part of a payroll in October and was released. The Nets signed him to a partially secured two-year deal with Brooklyn this summer and once again, it looks like he’s fully recovered and ready to go camp.
Curry, who was troubled by a soreness in his left knee even before being traded to the Nets in early February, went under the knife on May 9 after missing a few games in April. The Nets did not provide any details other than the arthroscopic surgery, which indicates that Dr. Martin O’Malley, a foot/ankle specialist, was only cleaning up loose objects in his knee that can cause recurrent pain. We haven’t yet been able to see him at the HSS Training Center.
Markiv Morris, whose signature has yet to be officially announced, was out from November through early March of last season after an argument with Denver’s Nikola Jokic. Morris was fined $50,000 for the accident initiated by Jokic, but the big consequence wasn’t the fine. Morris suffered an injury and had to sit out from November 8 through March 12, for a total of 58 games. Then, he barely played for the Heat in the playoffs last season, appearing in one of the 18 games and only three minutes in the Eastern Semi-Final. At 33 and with an unsecured deal, Morris knows he has plenty of proof.
This isn’t a contract year for Royce O’Neill, acquired in a June 30 deal for the less than first round of the Nets and Sixers in 2022, but it could be. He’s fully guaranteed $9.2 million this season but only partially guaranteed ($2.5 million) next season. More than one critics have cited O’Neill’s defense waning over the past two seasons despite his 3-point shot improving.
Nick Claxton signed a nice, two-year contract in July for a guaranteed sum of $17.5 million, which, with improbable incentives, could be up to $20 million. After admitting to being in trade rumors on the deadline and after a three-year period that saw him play just 94 out of a potential 226 matches, the 23-year-old’s new deal wasn’t necessarily a done deal. But after LaMarcus Aldridge fell, and played well, particularly on defense, at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs (except for a 1 of 11 display on the fowl streak), the Nets put their faith in their second-round pick. Claxton seems more serious in the off-season, as the Nets’ commitment to him means something.
No player did better than Patty Mills last season. At 33, he was solid, playing all but one of the matches after the Australian Championships at the Tokyo Olympics. He came within seven three-pointers of the Nets’ record for three-pointers in a season, and hit more than Joe Harris. His numbers in all areas were professional highs. He was a team leader, a force in the community. He might have been late as his minutes rose higher and higher. Now, in connection with his last contract in the NBA with probably $14 million over two years, both guaranteed, he’ll want to add another ring.
Cam Thomas, Daeron Sharp, Kesler Edwards, David Duke Jr (if he stays) and Alonds Williams are not out of injury, but they are hungry, especially the three picks from 2021. NBA Draft Who started 33 matches and played 2,000 minutes between them due to injuries.
Then, of course, there’s Steve Nash, who came within a few shoe sizes to reach the Eastern Conference Finals – and maybe more – in the junior season, with the highest win percentage of any Nets coach ever and highest offensive tackle. Ranking any NBA team, ever, too. Last year, as noted, was a disappointment, not about reconsideration, a disaster with injuries, illnesses and controversies, one star down for six weeks with a sprained MCL, another conceited to force trade and a third refusing a vaccination. Then, after repeatedly praising Nash in April, Kevin Durant turned Nash on in August, and Joe Tsai demanded that he be fired. To what extent that will be a hindrance to the ultimate success of networks, we do not know. Amar’e Stoudemire, who was a player development assistant under Nash and his Phoenix teammate, believes Nash and Durant are “less ego” enough to let go of the past, but everyone in the media will be looking for telltale signs that it won’t work. fans too. His courses will be scrutinized more than ever, and his time-outs will be scrutinized as well. He will get new support on the bench this season in Igor Kokoskov, who could turn out to be the most underrated transfer of the off-season. Kokoskov was an NBA assistant coach for nine NBA teams, and head coach for the Suns as well as the national teams of Slovenia and his native Serbia.
Winning the championship, of course, is the biggest chip any player can have in a season. The Celtics, having lost in the Finals, definitely have a few. Same for the Pax, who want to return to the Promised Land. The Sixers think James Harden and Joel Embiid are the best star pack in the East and even the Cavaliers with all those young stars (if they haven’t been tested) now think they’re in for a win. They gave up a ton to get Donovan Mitchell.
So, we have to wait and see. Shawn Marks chose to prioritize continuity in hopes of improving chemistry. Grids have, at the moment, only six new faces, seven if you count Simmons. Last season, they had 10. Is everything working? Plenty of time to discuss that.