These are the most important hours in Brooklyn Nets history. A team that hasn’t won an NBA title, a team which seemed poised to lift the Larry O’Brien when they signed KD and Kyrie and then traded for Harden, is now dissolving before our very eyes. These are the most important hours in Nets history.
The package the Nets receive for KD will go down as one of the biggest in history. KD is also probably the best player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be traded. Yet, the trend in recent years is that teams who have received hauls haven’t won championships, a trade which the Nets will surely fall into. Surely?
The Rockets aren’t contenders, nor are the Pelicans, nor are the Pacers even. The last few championship teams haven’t received the hauls, they made them. The Bucks went all-in for Jrue Holiday, the Lakers for AD, the Raptors went all-in (though not with all their assets per se) for Kawhi, and the Warriors have Wardell Stephen Curry.
The Nets are, however, in a different position. They are trading not one, but TWO superstars, and have one remaining. KD will garner a huge haul, Kyrie a significant (though not unprecedented one), and that leaves Ben Simmons. Simmons, a player who probably cannot be the best player on a championship team, is still one that raises its ceiling. Even more so, the Nets have an opportunity to create the perfect team around him.
A Brooklyn Nets Throwback
The Nets also re-gain something they lost when KD and Kyrie joined: culture. The viral videos of the dancing Nets benches are a thing of the past, replaced by the iso-heavy, boring basketball played by 1-year-contract vet-minimums alongside masterful scorers. Beautiful individual basketball, yes, but a team? Not truly.
The Nets team led by DLo, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen likely had a ceiling akin to the Jazz, if not a bit below that; not a championship team, but a good one, a high seed. The Nets have an opportunity now to be better than that, with Simmons at the helm. The Nets look to be getting a Westbrook-type player (i.e. aging fringe all-star player), a young stud, and future picks (which may not turn out to be top picks given any team is getting KD or Kyrie).
The goal, therefore, has to be building from the ground up, and fast. The Nets need to revive the attractive culture which brought in KD and Kyrie, not to get more free agents, but to create a culture of winning basketball. A culture, like Sean Marks said, where everyone wants to be in Brooklyn. That is what propels teams like Milwaukee, like Golden State, to the top of the NBA world, and that is what held the Nets back.
Is the loss of KD and Kyrie a tragedy? Yes. Can the Nets easily rebuild? The answer to that too, is yes. The Nets have never been “the best team in the world”, and shouldn’t try to be. They can build from now, Warriors-style or Spurs-style, and compete at a high level in the near future. And who knows? A championship might still be on the horizon.
Will Steve Nash go? Was losing Kenny Atkinson and Ime Udoka fatal mistakes? Time will tell. The Nets title push was a bust, but this trade request may just be the biggest blessing for the franchise. Two players we got for free in KD and Kyrie, may just grant us the most, and the best, assets in the NBA, and a bright future. For now, fingers crossed.