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Are the Brooklyn Nets contenders now? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Jun 28, 2013, 12:01 PM EST

Former NBA basketball player Kidd poses for photographers with Brooklyn Nets player Williams at a news conference in Brooklyn Reuters

Thanks to a blockbuster trade with Boston, next season the Brooklyn Nets will start Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez. They will bring Jason Terry off the bench. They will start five former All-Stars and bring a former Sixth Man of the Year off the bench.

So can we say now the Brooklyn Nets are NBA title contenders?

Well… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Remember how a year ago we all looked at the Los Angeles Lakers on paper — Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash — and penciled them into the NBA Finals? I’m not saying the Nets are going to self-destruct in dramatic fashion like L.A., I’m saying don’t assume everything will go smoothly.

Brooklyn should be a better team, a more dangerous playoff team, but a lot of things have to go right for them to knock Miami off it’s three-time defending Eastern Conference champions perch. Their margin for error is small.

What are the Nets’ issues?

• Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are getting older. And it shows. Don’t confuse 2013-14 Kevin Garnett with 2008 Kevin Garnett. Last season at age 36 Garnett appeared in 68 games and saw dips in efficiency, shooting percentage, and a little on the defensive end. That trend continued in the playoffs. Make no mistake, KG is still good and an upgrade at the four for Brooklyn, but he is 37 now and we can expect his game to erode further. Look at it this way — Garnett looked to wear down trying to stop Tyson Chander in the playoffs. Can he reverse that now as he is one year older?

Similar questions can be asked of Paul Pierce as he is now 36 — he averaged 18.6 points a game last year but his shooting percentage the last two seasons (43.6 percent last year) tailed off from the Boston title years. Again, he is still good and an upgrade, but he will regress some next season. And how will his legs be after an 82-game schedule?

• Can Deron Williams be the Utah Deron Williams again? His last two seasons in Brooklyn D-Will has been good, but he hasn’t been playing at the level we saw him at in Utah. He is still the best player on this team and the guy with the ball in his hands most of the time, he has to be elite. He has to be the guy we compared to Chris Paul, not the guy of the last few years.

• Do they have enough depth for the regular season? Brooklyn has an impressive starting five, but things drop off after that. Jason Terry is a former Sixth Man of the Year but he was unimpressive in Boston and will be age 36 next season. Reggie Evans stays but he will play a limited role on a good team. MarShon Brooks is now gone and part of that deal with Boston. (he wasn’t at first) so he is out. Andray Blatch is a free agent and the buzz around the league is he could bolt. Coach Jason Kidd has to keep the minutes for KG and Pierce and Terry in check this season and still get wins.

• Jason Kidd has to be the coach they think he can be. Kidd’s basketball IQ isn’t in question, but knowing what to do on the court and being able to transfer that knowledge to young players without his gifts is another. First year coaches in this situation can have a rough learning curve (Mark Jackson wasn’t an instant success in Golden State) and the window in Brooklyn with this roster is small. (The Nets did just hire Lawrence Frank to be Kidd’s lead assistant, which should help.)

Make no mistake, I still like this trade for the Nets. For one, they got rid of the horrible Gerald Wallace contract and unloaded Kris Humphries in the process. They had a terrible set of contracts on this team and they got out from under a lot of them and will have more flexibility after this season when Pierce’s deal expires (and Garnett likely retires next summer or in two summers).

Plus Brooklyn did get better on the court. The Nets can now be in the conversation with the Indiana Pacers (who get Danny Granger back) and the Chicago Bulls (who get Derrick Rose back) as to who has a shot to beat the Miami Heat.

But for Brooklyn to reach that NBA Finals goal a whole bunch of things need to go just right. And I am not sold at all that is how the season will unfold.

  1. spedman24 - Jun 28, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    The nets are NOT last years lakers. It was the media that said the lakers would be great — not the high IQ nba fans. Kobe is a nightmare health wise…Nash is really banged up & frankly, Howard is just a loser wherever he goes…this is a much better situation, pierce & KG don’t have to be their old selves…it’s more about their attitudes and the fact they’ve won before..

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 29, 2013 at 9:44 PM

      “High IQ nba fans”: where?

  2. spedman24 - Jun 28, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Wow man, I usually only read the NFL posts, but man, these Knicks fans are so jealous of Brooklyn and their free spending owner. Omg, it’s great…talk all you want about Brooklyn but when I walk around the city the only nba garb I see is Brooklyn Nets stuff. Also. When was the last time the Knicks even made it to the finals???? Nets couldn’t make it in jersey, but now that their in Brooklyn it’s over for NYK

  3. dmaq1 - Jun 28, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    A Dedication to all my friends who are Nets’ fans

    Remember, remember
    the Nets’ hype from November,
    The coalition of scrubs and fines for flops,
    I know no reason,
    Why Lopez last season,
    Averaged, less rebounds than blocks,
    Dreams of success, Dreams of glory,
    Kept their hopes alive,
    The first round was so gory,
    And the Nets could no longer thrive,
    There was an ailing foe a withered fo,
    For that did not matter,
    As Son of Robin showed in 7,
    The nets inNately are all chatter,
    A continuous hype,
    Parallel to only the eagles,
    Jay-z’s ugliness is a type,
    That shouldn’t even be legal,
    With a payroll so high
    I can only classify as sodomy,
    But Prokorov is an okay guy,
    His stupidity is stimulating our economy,
    So what has changed with the nets from the times we remember,
    Still hyped, still mediocre, so hop off of their member.

    – My boy wrote it, I thought i’d share lol

  4. nycalldayz - Jun 28, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Another Kurt Helin yawn article. The “old age” argument doesn’t fly and never will. Young teams don’t win it’s a fact. Veteran teams win. If youth was a factor, then the Warriors, Grizzles and Pacers would of been in the Finals. Did u not watch this season’s playoffs? Two veteran teams (Heat, Spurs) were in the 2013 NBA Finals. It’s been veteran teams (Spurs, Pistons, Lakers, Mavs, Celtics, Heat) the past 7yrs in the ECF, WCF and NBA Finals. It’s baffling that some in the media as well as fans still buying these false “old age” arguments.

    I have a strange feeling if Garnett was accquired by the Heat, Pacers or Bulls Kurt Helin would be praising the move. And for people to assume the Bulls will be better, because Rose is returning is again false. No one knows how Rose will look or the Bulls roster. Who’s to say if the Pacers will be better? Will David West return to the Pacers, because he can get more money else where. So if I was Kurt Helin or any other member on here, you might not want to get ahead of yourself.

  5. Great Caesar's Ghost - Jun 28, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    Don’t forget the egos involved…this was a somewhat-young and developing team and now they bring in three fossils who will demand minutes (if they stay healthy). And with no first rounders in the future at least for now. Shades of the Packers trading for QB John Hadl in 1974.

  6. 91devinhester23 - Jun 28, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    anyone watch game 7?

    no heart

  7. ji8888 - Jun 28, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    My money says they’ll be the most overrated team on the block. While nets fans are going to want to fire Kidd by February.

  8. tomtravis76 - Jun 28, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Rings don’t lie… To be the man you have to beat the man.

    Most basketball fans can come up with reasons why any team can beat another NBA team on paper. The bigs did hurt the Heat in the playoffs, but in the end the Heat are back to back champs, record books don’t show should have or could have lost.

    The Nets should be a fun team to watch this season, tons of talent. But until Lebron and Wade are knocked off the top of the hill, its all wishful thinking.

  9. bigwii - Jun 28, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Pencil in the Heat really? If the Heat stand pat and don’t make some changes on their front line while teams around them improve they are not a guarantee.

    They still have to worry about Chicago who will be very string next year. They add the former MVP, a shooter in Snell which was what they needed, and Deng and Noah are healthy and they aren’t last year.

    Indiana is getting better plus Granger will be back, Brooklyn will be tough at least. Keep thinking its a guarantee the Heat win you look really dumb and oblivious. The only way they get by the Bulls is if the refs hand them wins on a silver platter.

    They can’t stand pat and win it all again no way, not with all these younger more athletic teams getting better and better come back to earth Heat fans it’s a nice place.

  10. bigwii - Jun 28, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Not to mention the west I mean unless Wade and Bosh find a time machine they can win it but it’ll be incredibly tough. Don’t just think because you beat the Bulls 2 years ago with Rose you’ll do it again they’re way better now and I’m not even a Bulls fan, just logical unlike most Heat fans.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 29, 2013 at 9:42 PM

      “Some folks look for answers,
      others look for fights.”

  11. adoombray - Jun 28, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    There is 0 reason to believe J. Kidd is going to be a good coach. Please spare me that “coach on the floor” crap. that’s media talk at best. He has had no coaching experience, and the line that Lawrence Frank is going to help is rich. Frank is a terrible coach. He’s not going to help any.

    Let’s just be honest. The Nets dumped Wallace’s contract for some Jersey sales. Paul Pierce is one of my favorite players ever but he’s on his last legs and KG even moreso. Humphries was an expiring tossed in to take Wallace. Pierce and KG will be teaching Kidd more than he’ll be teaching them, and that’s what the picks are for. They messed up getting those picks later too ; by 2018 that first is going to be extremely valuable.

  12. loungefly74 - Jun 29, 2013 at 2:10 AM

    as of june 29, 2013…the Nets are contenders.

  13. sportfan2 - Jun 29, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    If they can keep the three new players on the floor maybe they can contend but that is a BIG if. These guys are old and an untested coach makes the odds tough.

  14. jimeejohnson - Jun 29, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    “Let’s not pump the brakes” is appropriate considering today’s vehicles come with anti-lock brakes you don’t have to pump. Translation: the Nets are Grandpa time!

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