Are Brooklyn Nets Chasing Big-Name Coach to Hide Mediocre Core?
The Brooklyn Nets tried desperately to make their product on the floor as impressive as their billion dollar home itself.
General manager Billy King, with the approval and deep pockets of owner Mikhail Prokhorov, flooded Brooklyn's roster with former All-Stars.
He started his overhaul with a 2011 trade deadline deal that plucked Deron Williams away from the Utah Jazz in exchange for young talent and a pair of first-round draft picks. Another first-round pick was sacrificed to add Gerald Wallace to the fold a year later, then two more picks (and five players) were swapped for Joe Johnson in July 2012.
King's methodical maneuvers were understandable (the Nets were mired in a five-year playoff drought), if not a few seasons overdue.
Two of his three finds (Wallace and Johnson) were past or quickly approaching 30 years of age, while the third was trying to shake a sour reputation from his involvement in the abrupt departure of a coaching legend (Utah's Jerry Sloan).
It took all of 28 games to convince King and Co. that Avery Johnson was the wrong man to lead this group, and a seven-game playoff exit to determine that Johnson's replacement, P.J. Carlesimo, wasn't the right choice either.
So now King's back on the hunt for talent, only this time he's reportedly staking out some of the all-time greats to fill his prime sideline perch. And according to Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine, the next Brooklyn coach could put a further dent into Prokhorov's wallet.
A source told Broussard that coaching legends Phil Jackson and Larry Brown along with Mike Dunleavy and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw sit atop King's wish list. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, former Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls coach Scott Skiles is also in the mix along with current Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Nate McMillan and brothers Jeff and Stan Van Gundy aren't among King's initial choices but could enter the discussion if King's preferred targets prove unattainable.
Per Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, a league source said Jackson's already out of the equation—at least in terms of the head coaching position. It's been speculated that the 67-year-old would prefer a front office gig, freed from the travel demands and daily rigors of life as an NBA coach.
But how impactful would a big-name coach be for this underperforming collection of talent? Is it a public relations move, a Band-Aid in place of the surgical procedure that may be needed?
The Los Angeles Lakers proved that talent can only go so far, particularly aging, past-its-prime talent. Their midseason installment of Mike D'Antoni, and his stubborn refusal to mold his style to his roster until it was too late, also proved how immensely important this coaching search is.
The Nets looked like a team without an identity during their postseason debacle. They were the better ballclub when they wanted to be, which meant nothing more than delaying their playoff exit until Game 7.
Can the next coach guarantee that he'll be getting the strong, sleek Williams who dominated in the second half of the season? Will he identify a clear role for Wallace to fill, something that Carlesimo reportedly did not (via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News)? Can he summon more than seven boards a night from Brooklyn's 7'0" All-Star center, Brook Lopez?
The talent's clearly in place—this was a 49-win team after all—it's just a matter of finding a way to make all of the pieces fit.
That puts the ultimate onus on King's selection, but the GM and billionaire owner shouldn't expect to see different results if they choose a square peg for their round hole on the sideline.
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