What was supposed to be a spectacular season for the Brooklyn Nets has been an utter disappointment.
Much of the team's struggles could be attributed to injuries and inexperience on the sidelines, but there are a few other factors in play.
Nets general manager Billy King put together a roster ready to win now on paper that has floundered worse than a marlin freshly plucked from its habitat.
The cagey veterans he brought in—Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry—have been ineffective shells of themselves. And thanks to the max contracts that Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson possess, King doesn't have much flexibility to get himself out of this mess.
Let's take a look at some of the disappointments that have plagued what was once a promising season.
Stats are accurate as of Wednesday, January 1, 2014.
Everyone knew there would be question marks regarding whether or not first-year head coach Jason Kidd would seamlessly transition to the sidelines, but few expected his coaching tenure to be as bleak as it has been.
Kidd hired Lawrence Frank to be his capo, and while the pairing seemed justified when considering their history together, it was a failure. As noted by B/R's Ben Leibowitz, via David Aldridge of NBA.com,
Frank was angered that Kidd chose assistant Joe Prunty instead of him to coach the team in his absence while Kidd served his DUI suspension at the start of the regular season.
The denouement came in the now well-reported blowup Kidd had with Frank, where Kidd, according to a source, told Frank: "Sit the (bleep) down! I'm the coach of this (13-letter word) team! When you're on the bench, don't (bleeping) move!"
In regards to why Kidd reassigned Frank, he had the following to say in a video interview with TNT, via Ben Golliver of NBA.SI.com,
Philosophies, sometimes things don’t work out. You have to accept that. I could accept that. At the same time, there’s a brand, the Brooklyn Nets that has to move forward. I have to find a way to make them better. For coaches, it happens just like players. It could be a disagreement, or an understanding that we don’t get along. But I have to do what’s best for the brand, and that’s what I had to do.
At the time of Frank's removal from Kidd's bench, the Nets had a 5-12 record. The organization currently checks in with a 10-21 record, so perhaps, Kidd didn't do what was best for the brand.
Kidd's apparent immaturity as a head coach was also revealed during his soda incident, when he allegedly asked Tyshawn Taylor to bump into him in order to stop the clock—a quasi-savvy move that reflected the desperation exuding from Brooklyn's bench.
The Nets may have played some games early in the year with the entire roster suited up, but there were a few nagging injuries lingering that kept certain players from playing at their highest level.
Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry each had ailments carrying over from training camp, and it took Brook Lopez only eight games to begin racking up DNPs. It's a bit intriguing to wonder whether or not Brooklyn would have struggled as mightily as it has if its star point guard had been ready to roll at the onset of the season.
Now with Lopez sidelined for the rest of the year and Brooklyn's future mortgaged by pricey contracts and limited draft picks, Nets fans may never experience the glitz and glory that had been expected in the offseason.
It's one thing to fail with all of your guns blazing, but to go down because a couple of guys got stuck in the chamber of age and physical limitations is painful.
Although Billy King has his hands tied as the Nets general manager because of a few bad contracts, there are still moves that could have and should have been made by now.
Brooklyn is significantly weak behind Deron Williams at the point guard position, and signing D.J. Augustin after the Toronto Raptors had waived him would have been a tremendous way to upgrade a weakness without surrendering any draft picks or players.
Shaun Livingston's history of injury issues coupled with Williams' current woes and Tyshawn Taylor's erraticism has Brooklyn in a risky position at the 1 spot. Another setback for D-Will could cause Brooklyn's season (which actually has a chance of being salvaged) to be finished for good.
Especially if King sits tight with his current roster, as Deron Williams believes, via Stefan Bondy of NYDailyNews.com, "I don’t think we’re making any trades. This is the team we’ve got. We feel like we can win with it. We just have to figure out how."
Joe Johnson has had some brilliant shooting performances, but for every great outing he's handed in this season, he's matched it with a dud.
Over his last three games of 2013, Johnson went 2-of-12, 4-of-12 and 4-of-8 from the field against the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs, respectively. Johnson shot the ball well enough against the Spurs, despite taking only eight shots, but he didn't do much else with his time on the court. He grabbed one rebound, stole the ball once and dished out only one assist.
One of the positives to Johnson's game is his ability to create for others out of the shooting guard position. However, like his lack of consistency with his stroke this year, he hasn't managed to regularly set his teammates up like in years past. He's dropping only 2.7 APG, which is below his career average of 4.3 and the 3.5 APG he contributed to the Nets last season.
A more consistent Joe Johnson would help Brooklyn find its identity on offense.
Much of the worry behind the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce acquisition was their ability to stay healthy, productive and energized for the postseason. Quite frankly, they entered the season with their tanks already on empty.
Garnett's inability to knock down open mid-range jumpers in the beginning of the year was the reserve fuel light turning on, and Pierce's field-goal percentage of 35.4 throughout the month of November symbolized the end of his reign as a reliable No. 1 option.
With Deron Williams and Brook Lopez missing 15 games throughout November, Pierce had ample opportunities to knock down shots and keep the Nets afloat, but he couldn't do it on his own. At this stage in his career, he's probably best fit in a catch-and-shoot role. Although, via NBA.com, he's only knocking down 1.3 of those 3.8 catch-and-shoot field-goal chances that he has received.
Most of us knew Garnett and Pierce wouldn't dominate games, but they were expected to contribute on both ends of the court and in the locker room, and that hasn't been the case this season. Brooklyn is allowing its opponent's to score 102.4 points per game, via NBA.com.