This Brooklyn Nets roster is a pure representation of Mikhail Prokorov's deep pockets, and his willingness to spend money and make big moves in order for this team to become immediate championship contenders.
The Nets' projected starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez is set to make over $80 million next season, which puts them well over the $71.7 million luxury tax line instituted by the league. That doesn't even take into account the money that will be owed to their reserves coming off the bench.
Giving up their future in the form of three future first-round draft picks (2014, 2016 and 2018) to the Celtics could come back to haunt them down the road. However, the Nets are playing for the here and now, if that wasn't obvious already. All of the Nets' money invested in these players will pay for itself if Brooklyn makes a deep enough postseason run.
If they find themselves in the thick of things come June of next year, than it will all be worth it.
In the minds of many, anything less than a second-round appearance in the playoffs for the Nets would be considered a huge disappointment. However, the Nets' own aspirations could far exceed even that.
There's a lot to be excited about with this team, especially after looking up and down the roster and glancing over the abundance of high quality talent the Nets possess.
Will it all come together in the end and which players hold the key to Brooklyn's success in 2013-14? Let's take a look.
All statistics and salary cap information courtesy of HoopsHype, ESPN.com and Basketball-Reference.com
2012-13 statistics: 19 games, 4.9 minutes, 1.6 points, 43.5 percent from the field, 1.2 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.1 blocks, 0.6 turnovers, 8.54 PER
2013-14 salary: $788,872
Depth Chart: Third-string small forward
As was the case in 2012-13, Tornike Shengelia's role with the Brooklyn Nets next season will be as close to non-existent as humanly possible.
In 19 games, Shengelia played a total of 93 minutes. Most of his playing time came in the form of a 10-game stint with the Springfield Armor in the NBA's D-League, where he averaged 24.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals.
He's not a scrub by any stretch of the imagination, as he has some value as a basketball player. It's just hard to see where he fits in with this rotation.
His only chance of seeing any significant action would be if Joe Johnson or Paul Pierce goes down with an injury.
Other than that, the end of the bench (or another developmental stint) is where Shengelia will remain.
2012-13 statistics: 38 games, 5.8 minutes, 2.2 points, 36.8 percent from the field, 0.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.0 blocks, 0.7 turnovers, 6.28 PER
2013-14 salary: $788,872
Depth Chart: Third-string point guard
Things were starting to look up for Tyshawn Taylor this offseason.
With C.J. Watson leaving Brooklyn to sign an undisclosed deal with the Indiana Pacers, Taylor was primed and ready to back up Deron Williams at the point guard position.
That is, until GM Billy King used the veteran's minimum salary to sign Shaun Livingston.
Williams was already taking up 36-38 minutes of playing time per game as the starting point guard, so factoring in the acquisition of Livingston and the minutes he will receive, it's hard to imagine Taylor seeing the court much—if at all—for the Nets in 2013-14.
Summer League will be Taylor's time to shine. If he can impress new head coach Jason Kidd with some strong play, than maybe some minutes could open up for him in the Nets' rotation.
2012-13 statistics: 53 games, 9.4 minutes, 3.5 points, 38.4 percent from the field, 1.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, 0.4 turnovers, 12.39 PER
2013-14 salary: $3,229,050
Depth Chart: Third-string power forward
After verbally agreeing to a three-year, $15 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets at the start of last season, Mirza Teletovic's deal was eventually reduced to three years and $9.68 million with the team's mini mid-level exception.
Looking back on his rookie season, signing Teletovic for less money was the absolute best decision.
Earning a reputation for himself over in Europe for being a sharpshooter, Teletovic failed to bring his acclaimed shooting stroke to the NBA, averaging just 38.4 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three-point range.
His inability to play defense and keep his man in front of him cost Teletovic a consistent role in the rotation. Previous Nets' head coach P.J. Carlesimo attempted to get the 6'9" Bosnian some more PT near the end of the season, but Teletovic continued to struggle and ultimately fell out of favor.
Next season could be his redemption year. He's the only big on the roster with any significant range, so he provides value in that respect. However, unless Teletovic can show signs of improvement on the defensive end, he will be nothing more than a garbage-time forward for this team.
2012-13 statistics (Washington Wizards/Cleveland Cavaliers): 66 games, 22.0 minutes, 6.3 points, 48.0 percent from the field, 2.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 blocks, 1.2 turnovers, 13.00 PER
2013-14 salary: $884,293
Depth Chart: Backup point guard
It was refreshing to see Shaun Livingston have such a productive season for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012-13. The Brooklyn Nets will be hoping that Livingston carries over some of that success for his new team.
Livingston's 2.83 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked him 11th in the NBA. He started 12 of his 49 games for the Cavaliers, showcasing his ability to run an offense and distribute the basketball with ease.
Tyshawn Taylor will be pushing for minutes, but that backup point guard spot is Livingston's to lose.
He's not the shooting threat that C.J. Watson was in that role for the Nets, as Livingston didn't hit a single three-pointer (only attempting nine) last season.
That's not his game, though. A majority of his shot attempts come from five to 10 feet of the basket.
He's had a problem staying healthy in the past, but even as the primary backup to Deron Williams, Livingston will likely see no more than 20 minutes a night.
2012-13 statistics (Duke Blue Devils): 36 games, 34.7 minutes, 17.1 points, 59.9 percent from the field, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.4 blocks, 2.9 turnovers, 26.3 PER
2013-14 salary: $1,298,640
Depth Chart: Third-string power forward/center
The Brooklyn Nets' selection of Mason Plumlee with the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft is just a further indication of how this franchise is looking to win now.
Plumlee was one of the most NBA-ready players available, having played the full four years with the Duke Blue Devils. He can step in immediately and contribute at either the four or five spot.
Having Kevin Garnett for a teammate can only do good things for Plumlee. Being mentored by one of the greatest team leaders in the sport will be huge for his career, moving forward.
With Garnett, Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche and Brook Lopez logging most of the available minutes in the frontcourt, Plumlee will presumably see a lot of the bench early in the season.
He's still rather raw offensively, but he's a tremendous athlete who can rebound, run the court and defend the basket.
Nets' fans will get nothing less than an all-out effort every time Plumlee's name is called.
2012-13 statistics: 80 games, 24.6 minutes, 4.5 points, 47.9 percent from the field, 11.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.4 turnovers, 12.81 PER
2013-14 salary: $1,695,635
Depth Chart: Backup power forward
Despite being an absolutely horrendous offensive player, Reggie Evans has continued to remain an integral part of the Nets' rotation because of his other intangibles.
Even as an undersized 6'8" power forward, Evans still finds a way to be one of the most dominating forces on the glass in the league today. His 11.1 rebounds per game ranked him sixth overall in the NBA this past season. Evans also ranked sixth in offensive rebounds per game (3.3).
In fact, Evans' defensive rebounding percentage of 38.0 percent set a new NBA record, surpassing Dennis Rodman's 1994-95 season mark of 37.8 percent.
His tenacity on the boards and the energy he brings every time he steps on the court made him an instant fan favorite, although his lack of an offensive game surely turned some fans off.
Evans will now move to the bench as Kevin Garnett takes over as the starting power forward. It's for the best, though, as Evans is more suited for a reserve role. His offensive deficiencies won't be nearly as problematic in the second unit.
2012-13 statistics (Boston Celtics): 79 games, 26.9 minutes, 10.1 points, 43.4 percent from the field, 2.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 1.3 turnovers, 12.81 PER
2013-14 salary: $5,625,313
Depth Chart: Backup shooting guard
How much fuel is left in the tank of Jason "The Jet" Terry?
A total of 14 seasons in the league would slow down any player of Terry's small stature. The 35-year-old is nearing the end of his storied career, but he's still got a lot left to offer.
Well, the Nets had better hope that he does, as Terry is expected to be the team's sixth man heading into next season.
"The Jet" did little to make Boston fans forget about the departure of Ray Allen, as Terry put up his lowest scoring totals (10.1 points) since his rookie year. Looking on the bright side, both his field goal percentage (43.4 percent) and three-point shooting percentage (37.2 percent) continued to hover around where he's been for his career (44.7 and 37.9 percent).
These next two seasons could very well be his last, so expect to see a motivated Terry who is looking to bounce back big after an off-year with the Celtics.
Although he's shown himself to be rather erratic on offense of late, Terry can still put up points in a hurry. He's always a threat to score whenever the ball is in his hands.
2012-13 statistics: 82 games, 19.0 minutes, 10.3 points, 51.2 percent from the field, 5.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks, 1.5 turnovers, 21.98 PER
2013-14 salary: $1,375,604
Depth Chart: Backup center
To say that Andray Blatche had a surprising 2012-13 season for the Brooklyn Nets might be the understatement of the century.
After being amnestied by the Washington Wizards in the summer of 2012 (owed $23 million), the Nets were able to sign Blatche at a discount price of just $854,389 for one season.
And what a discount it was.
He appeared to be motivated and looked like he cared while being an entirely different player. Did he have his shortcomings? Absolutely, but the good things he provided on the court were far more noticeable.
His field goal percentage jumped a full 13 points (51.2 percent) from his previous season (38.0 percent). His rebound totals per-36 minutes (9.7) were his highest since 2006-07. He was also the only player in the league to average at least nine rebounds and two steals per 36 minutes, as well.
Blatche solidified himself as one of the best, if not the very best, backup center in the NBA.
As a result, the Nets recently signed Blatche to a two-year, $2.8 million deal.
With his hard work having paid off, Blatche's career has now done a complete 180-degree turnaround. The Brooklyn Nets saved Blatche, and he returned the favor by playing his finest basketball in years.
Blatche's role will not change. He's in a good place with the minutes he's receiving.
2012-13 statistics (Boston Celtics): 68 games, 29.7 minutes, 14.8 points, 49.6 percent from the field, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks, 1.6 turnovers, 19.25 PER
2013-14 salary: $12,433,735
Depth Chart: Starting power forward
Kevin Garnett is not the Kevin Garnett of old. He's just an old Kevin Garnett.
But there's nothing wrong with that because an old Garnett is still a productive one. His numbers have fallen across the board over the last two seasons, but not to the point where one might consider the notion that he's finished.
Garnett is what the Brooklyn Nets need, both on and off the court.
Brooklyn ranked just 18th in defensive efficiency last season at 103.1. Recognized as one of the elite post defenders in the game today regardless of his age (37), Garnett will surely help the Nets improve in that department. He's a massive upgrade over Reggie Evans at power forward, both on offense and defense.
Off the court, Garnett will become the heart, soul and conscience of the Nets' roster, just as he was in Boston. He's a vocal leader with a passion for the game that's unmatched. He will be in the ear of his teammates on a regular basis, both during games and on the practice court.
It's championship or bust for Garnett, and he wants the rest of the team to understand and appreciate that.
His minutes will be closely monitored over the course of the regular season to keep him healthy for a long and, hopefully, prosperous postseason run.
2012-13 statistics: 72 games, 36.7 minutes, 16.3 points, 42.3 percent from the field, 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.7 turnovers, 14.14 PER
2013-14 salary: $21,466,718
Depth Chart: Starting shooting guard
It's time to erase the fact that Joe Johnson is quite possibly the most overpaid player in the league from our collective memories.
His inability to live up to his gargantuan contract (over $70 million for the next three seasons) is starting to become extremely disheartening. It's best to not even recognize its existence anymore and simply look at Johnson's play on the court as a means to be satisfied or upset.
That's essentially where Nets' fans stand on the Joe Johnson appreciation scale—satisfied or upset with no middle ground.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Johnson was the Nets' most effective closer last season. He nailed three game-winning shots, including two at the end of regulation. When Brooklyn needed a big play, Johnson usually delivered.
On the other hand, Johnson's offense in general was rather unpredictable. He had long stretches of brilliance that were followed by deplorable decision-making. His 16.3 points per game were his fewest since 2002-03. His contributions in other facets of the game (3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists) were well below his career averages.
This trend is likely to stay the same, and that's even if Johnson does show signs of improvement in 2013-14. The arrival of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will surely take away some of Johnson's looks on offense away.
Still, that won't be an excuse and it can't be. Johnson's usage rate was just 21.7 percent last season, which was a far cry from the 26 percent he averaged in seven seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
Joe Johnson is better than this. There will be brighter days ahead.
2012-13 statistics (Boston Celtics): 77 games, 33.4 minutes, 18.6 points, 43.6 percent from the field, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, 2.8 turnovers, 19.14 PER
2013-14 salary: $15,333,334
Depth Chart: Starting small forward
"The Truth" shall set you free.
It still hasn't hit a majority of basketball fans that Paul Pierce won't be suiting up for the Boston Celtics next season. After all, 15 years is a long time to spend with one team and you don't see that a lot anymore.
The bond between Pierce and the Celtics franchise will last forever, but for now, winning games for the Brooklyn Nets will be his top priority.
With Boston's "Big Three", even recently, Pierce has been relied on heavily to carry the offensive load, which has put a lot of wear and tear on his body.
In Brooklyn, that won't be the case. He will be a part of a starting unit that has a combined 35 NBA All-Star appearances. The scoring will be allocated more evenly, allowing Pierce to be more relaxed and let his game naturally come to him.
Even at the age of 35, Pierce still has the aptitude on defense to guard some of the stronger and quicker wing players around the league. Come the postseason, that will be extremely valuable. You can never fully contain a player like Paul George or LeBron James, but Pierce has proven in the past that he can make life very difficult for them.
Pierce did have a horrible playoff series against the New York Knicks with his 36.8 percent shooting and 21.2 turnover rate, which has to be a tad concerning for Nets' fans.
Again, this a new situation with new surroundings and a new hope for Pierce, who knew that the Boston Celtics were never going to win another title during his dwindling career.
This Brooklyn Nets' team, while unproven, absolutely can. Perhaps that hope is all Pierce needs to push himself for his final cracks at championship glory.
2012-13 statistics: 74 games, 30.4 minutes, 19.4 points, 52.1 percent from the field, 6.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals, 2.1 blocks, 1.8 turnovers, 24.81 PER
2013-14 salary: $14,693,906
Depth Chart: Starting center
The 2012-13 season was Brook Lopez' coming out party.
Not only did he make his very first NBA All-Star team, being named a replacement for the injured Rajon Rondo, but Lopez also took significant strides towards improving his defense, which was considered to be one of his major weaknesses.
His 2.1 blocks per game and 5.2 block percentage were both career highs.
His offense has always been his bread and butter, but the improvement that he showed on the defensive end was what fans really started to take notice of last season. He still has a ways to go before being considered an upper-echelon defender in the league, but progress is still progress.
In the Nets' playoff series with the Chicago Bulls, Lopez averaged 22.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks. Brooklyn eventually lost in seven games, but one of the positives to take away from it all was the strong play of Lopez.
One area of his game that could use some serious work is his rebounding, although it's starting to look more and more like he will collect somewhere in the range of seven to nine rebounds per game. At his size (7'0", 260 pounds), those numbers could be higher.
Only LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul had a higher PER than Lopez (24.81) during the course of the regular season in 2012-13. The Player Efficiency Rating can sometimes be overvalued, but it does go to show the importance of Lopez to this team and his growth as a player.
Even with the center position slowly being phased out in the NBA to help accommodate a faster style of play, Lopez demonstrates why it is so important to have a big man who can shoot in the paint and defend the low post. It's a nice weapon to have.
2012-13 statistics: 78 games, 36.4 minutes, 18.9 points, 44.0 percent from the field, 3.0 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.4 blocks, 2.8 turnovers, 20.38 PER
2013-14 salary: $18,466,130
Depth Chart: Starting point guard
The Brooklyn Nets will either thrive, barely survive or flat out dive based on the play of their starting point guard, Deron Williams.
He's the key to all of this. He's the cog, the driving force, the brightest star of the bunch.
Statistically and in merit, Brook Lopez had a better 2012-13 season than Williams, but that's if you're just looking at the big picture.
During the second half of the season, Williams played like an all-star. Comparing his second-half numbers to that of the first half of the season, Williams' points (16.3 to 20.6), assists (7.5 to 7.9), three-point shooting percentage (30.0 to 42.2 percent) and free-throw percentage (81.5 to 88.4 percent) all saw a major increase.
His 18.9 points per game ranked him 13th in the NBA, while his 7.7 assists had him fifth overall.
The eyes of the basketball world will be focused on the Brooklyn Nets and their drive towards an NBA championship in the Eastern Conference next season. No one player on this team will be under the microscope more than Deron Williams.
There seems to be a growing consensus that Williams may have already peaked. He just turned 29 years old in June. Is he going to become any better than he already is?
That's not a knock against him. When he's at his best, Williams is clearly one of the three or four best point guards around the league.
If this is the pinnacle of Williams' greatness as a player, than it will do. He has more of a supporting cast around him now to really make a solid run at the Larry O'Brien trophy.
In the end, if Williams isn't at the top of his game, then this ship isn't going anywhere.
Will that happen? I wouldn't bet on it.