Former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy knows a thing or two about building a winning team—his 2008-09 Orlando Magic team won the Eastern Conference in just his second year as head coach. He also knows a thing or two about franchise-crippling drama.
And Van Gundy sees a lot more of the latter in the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets. The former coach was asked to evaluate first-year Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd, who has been firmly planted on the hot seat after a disastrous start to the season.
This is what Van Gundy told NBC radio's Amani and Eytan show, as relayed by NBC Sports's Kurt Helin.
I think with all the injuries it’s been hard to evaluate Jason Kidd. It’s been easy to jump on him not just because of the record, but the things coming out of their locker room, the situation with Lawrence Frank, the incident of spilling the drink on the floor. I mean this has looked like a bush league organization much of the year, they don’t play with much effort at all, a very uninspired team. But at the same time they had so many people hurt you just don’t know. And now they are not they are not going to be healthy all year…
Obviously, the "bush league" comment is going to draw most of the attention here—search "Stan Van Gundy" on Twitter at the moment and you'll find the words "bush league" plastered everywhere. But Van Gundy does take a nuanced, big-picture approach to the Nets problems.
Yes, Kidd has looked like an embarrassment, and the organization looks to blame, but the injury problems have clouded the entire situation with uncertainty.
This next statement from Van Gundy, however, should frighten Nets fans.
You can do whatever you want with the coaching situation but it is not going to change the situation with their roster. They just don’t have a lot of options — they don’t have draft picks, they are way over the salary cap. They are probably in the worst situation of any team in the NBA right now.
The worst situation in the NBA? Ouch.
Van Gundy seemingly has no ax to grind with the Nets' organization—if the Van Gundy family has a beef with any New York team, it's probably his brother Jeff's former team, the Knicks.
At the moment, the Nets and Knicks are jockeying for the title of "NBA's worst long-term situation." The salary-cap picture will become more clouded next offseason, depending on what happens with star Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony in free agency, so it's hard to judge who will be more strapped in the following years.
One thing is certain, however: The Nets have the worst draft pick future in the league.
While the details are complicated, per RealGM.com, Brooklyn:
- has no picks in 2014
- must swap its 2015 first-rounder with Atlanta, has no second-rounder
- has no picks in 2016
- can be forced to swap its 2017 first-rounder with Boston, give its second-rounder to Atlanta
- has no first-rounder in 2018.
So maybe Van Gundy has a point.