Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Nets are still bad.
Shocking, I know, since you would think almost $200 million in salary and luxury taxes would fund a playoff team, not a cellar-dweller.
But the Nets are in fact expensive riffraff that call 11th place in an abject Eastern Conference their humble abode, leaving head coach Jason Kidd at his wit's end.
"I think it's getting very close to just accepting losing," Kidd said after his Nets suffered a 103-86 romping from the Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center, according to Newsday's Roderick Boone. "We kind of get comfortable with losing, and we've got to make a stand with that, because when things get tough, do we just give in? And most of the time right now, we do."
That's an understatement.
Brooklyn is a loser of three straight and four of its last five. Hope sprung out of a previous three-game winning streak, but Brook Lopez's season-ending foot injury brought revival talks to an abrupt end.
The Nets are two games outside the East's playoff picture and 2.5 games off the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors. They rank in the bottom 10 of points scored, points allowed and rebounds per game and have beaten just three teams with a record above .500.
Making the playoffs was never a question. Contending was never in doubt, either. This roster was built to win and win now.
Excess of losing and injuries have destroyed such expectations, souring Brooklyn's morale and ensuring Kidd's frustration, which is a feeling shared by Kevin Garnett, per the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy:
Kevin Garnett: "I don't think we have an identity."— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) December 24, 2013
No identity is right. Nine figures and a mortgaged future later, and the Nets are defined only through mounting losses and dispirited complexion.
Will the Nets turn their season around?
This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Winning should have defined Brooklyn. Any in-season turmoil should have been transient and solvable, not longstanding and incurable.
This isn't what the Nets signed up for.
"We’ve got to be up for everybody," Paul Pierce said, following a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, via Bondy. "It’s not like we’re walking giants. We are bottom-feeders right now just like Philadelphia, so we’ve got to be up for everybody."
With each loss, the Nets fall deeper and deeper into a self-dug hole, bringing them one misstep closer to being engulfed by a bottomless, inescapable pit.