Too bad the Brooklyn Nets have been so boring this summer, right? They've only had one of the oddest head-coaching departures of all time and let Paul Pierce go after a year.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov shelled out nearly $180 million, which included an $80 million luxury-tax penalty, in order to be a title contender, but the Nets were hammered by the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs.
Brooklyn's season wasn't a complete disaster, though. Over time, everyone seemed to realize that throwing together an aging roster with a first-year head coach was a terrible combination, at least in the short term.
But now Jason Kidd is gone and the Nets will be without Pierce, who was fourth on the team in scoring. Bringing in Lionel Hollins was a shrewd move, though, that will help Brooklyn become a much better defensive team, thus tougher to beat in the postseason.
It's hard to gauge where the Nets are at the moment. They play in a weak division and still have most of the parts from last year. A winning season is almost certain, but anything beyond that is uncertain at best.
One of the biggest keys for Brooklyn will be getting a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. In order to do that, it can't afford to have the sluggish start to the season that it did last year.
You can view the Nets' full regular-season slate on NBA.com.
The bookmakers don't consider the Nets one of the top favorites, nor are they a massive underdog. According to VegasInsider.com, Brooklyn is a 70-1 favorite to win the NBA title, which is tied for 15th in the NBA. The Knicks are favored just a tad more, with 60-1 odds.
Note: Odds are up to date as of Wednesday, Aug. 13 at 6:10 p.m. ET
Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks
When: Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET
New Yorkers are known for their compassion, aren't they?
The crowd inside the Barclays Center will be baying for Kidd's blood. His move to the Milwaukee Bucks was one of the most incredible basketball stories of the summer. It belonged in an episode of Game of Thrones, not the NBA.
One minute Kidd is coaching the Nets and leaving fans excited for how he'll build upon what was an improved second half of the season. The next he's attempting a power grab that failed spectacularly. There was deceit, betrayal and a failed coup d'etat.
Nets general manager Billy King spoke about Kidd's dismissal and subsequent hiring with the Bucks, via ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo:
Well, if I read all you guys and watch the TV, it's panic. It's pandemonium. Everything's falling down. No, it's a bump. It's a big bump. But it's something that we've got to overcome. ... The franchise is bigger than one person. If you sit here and say one person leaves and everything comes falling down, then you don't have an organization. So we're not where we were like a week ago, but I think we can get back there quickly.
Giving Kidd his first head-coaching opportunity was a gamble for the Nets and an investment in the future. The fact that he tried to take a larger role with the organization after only a year was, to many, a slap in the face to Brooklyn, and something for which the fans may never forgive him.
Watching somebody once so revered by Nets fans get booed out of the building will be great theater.
Brooklyn Nets at Memphis Grizzlies
When: Wednesday, Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Speaking of head coaches, Hollins likely still remembers his departure from the Grizzlies. Despite helping to turn the franchise around, his contract wasn't renewed after the 2012-13 season, leaving him without a job.
I've been to New York many times. Having been in the league as long as I have and even when I lived in Philly and when I lived, now, in Memphis, we would come up and go to a play or go to a musical and then go to dinner and hang out for two or three days. So I'm pretty comfortable with New York, I just never thought I'd be living here. That's the big shocker. It's still surreal to believe that I'm in New York, and especially after being 12 years in Memphis. Memphis is like, compared to New York, it's like back in the stone age when you didn't have electricity and stuff. And that's not a knock on Memphis as much as it's just a contrast in how developed and how, just, unbelievably electric New York is versus Memphis. People are laid back, they move slow, they talk slow and they drag their words out. Here, everybody talks so fast and usually you have to listen real hard and ask ‘em to say what they said again.
Kevin Lipe of the Memphis Flyer called Hollins a "miserable person" following the critique:
Even without that added storyline, the Nets and Grizzlies' matchups will be determined by who can out-ugly the other. Although Brooklyn's defensive rating was 20th in the league, it finished 11th in opponents' scoring (99.5 points a game), per Basketball-Reference.com.
You know the Grizzlies will bring the defense; there's very little doubt about that.
Sometimes it can be fun to watch a defensive struggle where each team only scores in the 80s. It's like going back in time to a bygone era of basketball.
Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks
When: Friday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET
It feels like there are very few true rivalries in the NBA today where both teams' fans hate one another.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers' feud has simmered somewhat, with both teams' recent declines. The Miami Heat aren't going to be as good without LeBron James, so they're nowhere near as compelling as they've been for the last four years. The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers have a good thing going; as do the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder, mostly down to Patrick Beverley.
With the Nets and Knicks, you've got a genuine feud.
The "Clash of the Boroughs" felt a little contrived with the Nets' first year in Brooklyn, but over the last two seasons, it has grown into a compelling battle.
With Carmelo Anthony staying in New York and Phil Jackson's arrival, the Knicks look to be improving as well, only helping to add intrigue to these games.
The Nets are a slightly worse team than they were last year with the departures of Pierce and Shaun Livingston. Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett aren't getting any younger, either. And who knows how good Deron Williams will be?
But don't be surprised of Brooklyn posts a better regular-season record than it did last year.
For one, Hollins brings much more stability to the sideline. Kidd was ill-prepared to take over as head coach, and it showed early in the 2013-14 season. He improved steadily as the year progressed, but the Nets' miserable start to the season could have been avoided.
Having that consistency from Day 1 will allow Brooklyn to be competitive when the regular season begins and not by Christmas, which was the case last year.
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