NBA: Story of the consistently inconsistent Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets are a study in inconsistency. They began their existence, in the ABA, in1967, as the New Jersey Americans. By 1968, they had moved from Teaneck New Jersey to Long Island and were calling themselves the New York Nets. In 1976 they were one of four ABA franchises to merge with the NBA.
As of 1977, they moved back to New Jersey and were known as the New Jersey Nets until 2012. The 2012-13 NBA season saw the Nets morph into the Brooklyn Nets, moving back to a borough of New York and playing out of the new Barclays Centre.
The Nets did win ABA championships in 1974 and 1976 starring the great legend “Dr. J” Julius Erving. They won two NBA Eastern Conference titles in 2002 and 2003. They have made two NBA Finals appearances. and won four division titles in the NBA in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. They have featured star players like Kenyon Martin, Jason Kidd, Drazen Petrovic, Julius Erving, Bernard King, Daryl Dawkins, Buck Williams, Vince Carter, Kenny Anderson, and even Rick Barry.
So while they have had some big names wear their uniform over the years and had some mild success in the ABA and NBA, they have been inconsistent as they have been nomadic. Some of it is due to sheer bad luck. For instance, rising star Drazen Petrovic’s death, in the summer of 1993, was a huge gut shot to their fortunes.
Michael Ray Richardson was banned for life from the NBA because of addiction to cocaine. Richardson has the distinction of not only being a great basketball player, but the first to be banned for life under the NBA’s anti-drug program, in February of 1986, obviously to the Nets' dismay. However, bad luck usually follows bad decisions and the Nets have made their fair share.
Their current lack of success follows one clearly bad decision. It was the summer of 2013; the day of the NBA draft. A bright idea was hatched. The Nets would send their 2014, 2016 and 2018 first round draft picks along with players Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, Marshon Brooks and Keith Bogans to the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, and D.J. White.
If the date had been 2006 or even 2008, this might have been an okay deal. However, to mortgage your immediate future (three first round picks that ended this summer) for a then 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, a 36-year-old Paul Pierce and a 36-year-old Jason Terry was unwise.
Garnett was not in his prime and was traded to Minnesota in 2015 for Thaddeus Young. Paul Pierce was a free agent in the summer of 2014 and signed a two year deal with Washington. Jason Terry was traded in the middle of the 2013-14 season along with Reggie Evans to the Sacramento Kings for Marcus Thornton.
To be clear, of the three aging stars that the Nets received in place of their future, only one lasted more than a season in Brooklyn, that being Kevin Garnett. None lasted more than two seasons. In the meantime, Boston selected James Young with Brooklyn’s 2014 pick. In 2016 Boston chose Jaylen Brown with Brooklyn’s pick.
Jaylen Brown is now a two-time Eastern Conference Finalist, with the Boston Celtics. Finally, with Brooklyn’s 2018 pick the Celtics opted to trade it to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving, in the summer of 2017 when they sent Isaiah Thomas to the Cavaliers. Cleveland used the pick to select Collin Sexton and he is a rotation player, at least right now for the Cavs.
The Nets' madness has not ended. Last year, traded centre Brook Lopez and the rights to Kyle Kuzma, who they drafted 27th overall in the 2017 draft. In return, the Lakers sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets. A year later, Kuzma is seen as a rising star in the NBA. Mozgov was traded for Dwight Howard, draft rights to Hamidou Diallo, a 2021 draft pick and cash considerations.
Dwight Howard was then waived. Further, the Nets are set to let D'Angelo Russell become a restricted free agent. While there is much talk surrounding how the Nets' season hangs on Russell’s play, it's also significant that they have not committed to him long-term, by extending his rookie contract.
Perhaps a left knee injury costing Russell 34 games last year is the concern, but these mishaps and poor player decisions keep plaguing the Nets. Whether it's New York, Brooklyn or New Jersey the constant switching of homes and personnel are consistent in the long stretches of failure and inconsistencies that is the Brooklyn Nets.