If you have ever seen the TV show “This Old House”, you know that the show is all about home improvement. Based upon their age and need for remodeling, the Brooklyn Nets could very well have their own episode on this show.
Determined to win their first NBA championship, the Nets made the trade of the summer last year and brought in veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics. In the trade, the Nets were giving up a bright future for a very small window of opportunity to win. As a result, Brooklyn earned itself the most expensive team in NBA history and over $80 million in luxury taxes this season. The expectations were simple: championship or bust.
The Nets failed to meet expectations this season, as they underachieved during the regular season and were bounced in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in five games by the team Brooklyn had their sights set on all year: the Miami Heat. Yes, not having Brook Lopez for most of the season and the playoffs may have played a factor, but Brooklyn was simply not good enough to beat Miami. Due to the early exit from the playoffs and having no draft picks this summer, Brooklyn faces a long offseason with more questions than answers.
Because Brooklyn is an older team strapped down by big contracts and without many draft picks for the next few years, trading away the big name players for younger talent could be the way to go. However, that is much easier said than done. Despite his All-Star talent, Lopez has been consistently injured and carries around a hefty contract. Not only do All-Stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson carry around enormous, disappointing contracts, but both would only go to a contender at this point in their careers. Neither are young pups anymore, as both are primarily concerned with winning now. Similar to Lopez, Williams has had his own fair share of injuries.
Because the Nets are locked into some huge contracts for the next few seasons, there are only two free agents on the roster: Pierce and Shaun Livingston. While Livingston may have a shot at returning after a good season, Pierce’s chances are not as likely. That brings me to him and Garnett, who should be back next season unless he is traded or chooses to retire.
As painful as it can be to see these two future Hall of Famers lose again in the postseason, both Pierce’s and Garnett’s best days are behind them. The reason both men left Beantown for Brooklyn was for a chance to win again and take down their rivals from South Beach. However, for the third time in four years, Miami had the last laugh against Pierce and Garnett. Except this time, it stung a little more since Ray Allen was now their playoff opponent rather than teammate.
Unless Pierce and Garnett are willing to join a title contender as possible role players off the bench, their chances at winning a championship are slim to none. Pierce has said he has a year or two left in the tank, but it may be best if he calls it quits now. As for Garnett, he still has one more year left on his contract. If the Nets decide to re-sign Pierce, I would expect it to be for only one season. After 2014-15, the only current players still on the payroll would be Lopez, Johnson and Williams.
The Nets could decide to give it one more shot at a championship in 2014-15, but then again they could realize their window is all but shut and that it is time to build for the future. Having past-their-prime players like Pierce and Garnett, the inconsistency of Johnson and the injury-proneness of Lopez and Williams is not a recipe for a championship. Hard decisions will be made this summer in Brooklyn, but the Nets must understand one thing: Brooklyn is a middle of the road team — not a championship contender.