Is This What Rock Bottom Looks Like for Broken Brooklyn Nets?

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Is This What Rock Bottom Looks Like for Broken Brooklyn Nets?
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Brooklyn Nets fans better hope so.

They better hope this is rock bottom for their team. This expensive disaster. This stumbling, bumbling sorry excuse for an NBA outfit.

The Nets were obliterated by the Chicago Bulls 95-78 in their Christmas Day craptacular spectacular. At home.

Sure, Brook Lopez is done for the year. And yes, Andrei Kirilenko remains afraid of his own shadow. But the Grinch hit Chicago just as hard.

There was no Derrick Rose or Luol Deng torching Brooklyn, only a desecrated compilation of role players, led by Carlos Boozer, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Mike Dunleavy and a limited Joakim Noah. And the Nets still lost badly, which is sad because this isn't an aberration.

Brooklyn is now 9-19, the loser of four straight, ranked 12th in a middle school-esque Eastern Conference and fading faster, faster and faster still.

 

Ruining Christmas

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Disappointing. Despicable. Deplorable.

That's the Nets' season in three words. They've done nothing. They have been able to prove nothing.

"I don't think we have an identity," Garnett said of Brooklyn after losing to the Indiana Pacers, per the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy.

Nothing changed against Chicago on a national stage. Where the Nets should have been hungry, frustrated and furious, they were submissive as a more diligent Bulls team ran them off their own floor.

Coming into their Christmas Day massacre, they ranked in the bottom 10 of points scored, points allowed and rebounds per game. Once the game started, they treated us to more of the same lackluster play, eliciting this tweet from ESPN.com's Mike Mazzeo:

After playing a conservative first half, during which they shot just 33.3 percent from the floor, including 2-of-15 in the second quarter, the Nets found themselves down 41-38. Not ideal, but manageable. 

Things unraveled in the third quarter, though. Chicago poured in 36 points on 61.9 percent shooting, while the Nets remained idle on the defensive end and reverted to unstructured isolation plays most of the time on offense.

Then, with blank looks on their faces, searching for answers that never came, they headed into the fourth quarter, lifeless as ever. It had Rod Boone of Newsday wondering if the Nets would ever be scheduled on Christmas again:

Twelve impossibly long fourth-quarter minutes later, it was mercifully over.

All told, the Nets were outscored by 10 points in the paint (44-34), 11 points in transition (16-5) and had just three players in double figures (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Mirza Teletovic). The team totaled fewer than 80 points for the first time all year.

Not-so-merry Christmas indeed.

 

Bleak Outlook

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Worse still, there's no help on the way. No solace to be found in a performance worthy of boos and enraged skepticism.

BroLo isn't coming back. Williams is a shattered glass vase pieced together using bubble gum, scotch tape and glue sticks. Paul Pierce and Garnett are playing uninspired basketball.

The Nets are also between a rock and a black hole financially. They are the only NBA team with a payroll exceeding $100 million, according to ShamSports.com, and it's brought them here—rock bottom. We think.

We hope.

With no money to spend, Brooklyn doesn't have the means to improve. The Nets won't suddenly come out of this lingering funk because they absorbed a contract or expensive asset another franchise doesn't want, because they can't.

They cannot contend in the Eastern Conference, let alone for an NBA title. Not with this injury-stricken, colorless roster.

Put simply, they're awful. They were terrible before Lopez went down, and they're even worse now.

 

Panic Time

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

"We're not going to panic," Nets general manager Billy King said recently, per Harvey Araton of The New York Times.

Time to reconsider your stance, Billy. Panicking is the only thing left to do. 

Starting over is what the Nets must try to do. 

No one should be safe, not even D-Will, the franchise point guard. If teams come calling, like the Houston Rockets did, according to ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk and confirmed by Bleacher Report's Howard Beck, the Nets must listen. If there's a deal out there that gives them wiggle room they don't have now, they have no choice.

This isn't just one loss to a depleted Bulls team. This is an epidemic. Losing has consumed the Nets like a plague, and an expensive one to boot.

Owner Mikhail Prokhorov is paying nearly $200 million for this roster after luxury taxes and is doing so under the impression this team can contend, maybe even win.

But they can't and must not allow unrealistic expectations to prevent them from realizing this season is lost, squandered amid injuries, lethargy and general incompetence. Williams explained the season best in one sentence, per Tim Bontempts of the New York Post:

This can no longer be about the money, about salvaging a flawed investment. As Eminem eloquently opines, "we see them dollar signs and let the cash blind us." That's what happened to the Nets.

Their vision was impaired by dollar signs and flashy names, ultimately leaving their present and future outlook muddled by limitations and losing, with no safe haven or sanctuary in sight.

 

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