July 12th 2013 is a date most Brooklyn Nets fan try to forget but was a date with such massive implications that has reverberated to this day. The Nets has agreed to trade it’s unprotected 2014, 2017 and a pick swap option for its 2016 pick for two of the Celtic’s big three, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian oligarch millionaire who owns the Nets has signalled to his then current General Manager Billy King that now was the time to win. The San Antonio Spurs pushed the Miami Heat super team of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh to a 7 game series and if it wasn’t for the Ray Allen shot that sealed them a crucial game six they would of lost it at the final minute., The Heat looked to be depreciating with constant injuries to Dwayne Wade and a lacklustre bench, if it was any time to beat them, the time was now.
The Nets hired Jason Kidd and had the highest payroll of any team, expectations were high and they had to be with such a massive play for the now. Many Celtics fan were saddened by the trade news as it signalled both a new era for them with the loss of their signature players and any hopes of them competing for the title. Nets fan were thrilled, the return of their super-star from the New Jersey Nets days in Jason Kidd coaching and playoff proven players in KG, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams. They also had Andrei Kirilenko, better known as AK47 and Joe Johnson off the bench with some needed fire-power.
The Nets defeated the Miami Heat in their opening game by 1 point and things were onto over-drive. After this game though, it was all downhill for the aging Nets squad. They finished sixth in the Eastern Conference, despite sweeping the season series against the Heat.
“It’s all good, we’re made for the playoffs baby”, was what every Nets fan were stating despite their sixth seed.
The Nets won a 7 game series against the Raptors in the first round but in their second round match up with the defending champions, The Miami Heat; they we’re demolished 4 – 1. Following this, Kevin Garnett was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Paul Pierce signed with the Washington Wizards.
That was the last we saw of the Nets who basically had a team revolving around an aging and injured Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. The future looked grim for them, they have just traded almost basically all of their future for a one year rental on aging Celtic superstars.
Billy King was fired (though he stated he resigned, we’re pretty sure with a face like Mikhail he probably forced you to do it) and Sean Marks was hired with the hardest rebuilding job in the world without any high round draft picks. It seemed like an impossible task and many expected him to need at-least 5-8 years to get back into the playoffs.
The Celtics on the other hand had their rebuild go from 0 – 100 real quick with the picks provided by the Nets. Here’s a run-down of what they did with the Nets 2014 – 2018 picks:
2014: James Young (17th Pick) – Didn’t pan out, currently a G-League player
2016: Jaylen Brown (3rd Pick) – Key young player for the Celtics who helped them reach the Conference Finals.
2017: Jayson Tatum (3rd Pick) – Was touted to be the next big thing and also helped the young Celtics squad reach the Conference Finals.
2018: Packaged with Isiah Thomas for a trade with the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving, became Colin Sexton who looks like a young stud in the Cavaliers line up.
The Nets have just secured their playoff berth to the 2018/2019 NBA Playoffs, and unlike teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics their process was a series of genius moves and great coaching.
So how exactly did Sean Marks do it?
The first move Sean Marks did was to fire coach Lionel Hollins and hire the young but talented Atlanta Hawks Assistant Coach in Kenny Atkinson. Kenny was part of the coaching team that helped the Atlanta Hawks make it to the conference finals with their team oriented basketball with a core of Teague, Korver, Millsap and Horford. They had no superstar talent to carry them but with head coach Mike Budenholzer and Kenny Atkinson, their stellar coaching lead the team to become the first seed in the Eastern Conference beating the LeBron James lead Cleveland Cavaliers.
Two key signings that has still made an impact today were made in 2015 and 2016. The Nets signed Spencer Dinwiddie, an unproven 2nd round pick draft from the Pistons in 2014 who was playing some great ball in the G-League and the hot but often injured and out of favour guard in Joe Harris. With their 23rd pick in the NBA draft they were also able to select a young and unproven Rookie in Rondae Hollis Jefferson.
No one thought of them as core additions at that point in time but as some would say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Let’s start with Dinwiddie.
Spencer Dinwiddie was given a lot of minutes in the 2016-117 NBA Season. He was moved to the starting line-up after Jeremy Lin received a season ending injury in the starting couple of games in the Nets regular season. He was signed to be a back-up guard for the Nets, but fate had other things in mind for him.
The Nets still had a great centre in Brook Lopez, a perfect pick and roll partner for Dinwiddie. Lopez could do it all shoot the three and bang down low in the post with the best of them at the time. He scored his season high 19 points against the Bucks and the Bulls. Brook Lopez was traded after that season, but that’s another story we’ll go on about later.
His biggest leap though was in the 2017-18 season. He had a coming out party against the LeBron James lead Cleveland Cavaliers where he scored his season high 22 points and the go-ahead three pointer that secured the Nets win against them.
It didn’t stop there either.
He didn’t stop there as you’d know by now. He made a franchise record being the first player to make three or more 3-pointers in six straight games in a Nets uniform. He toppled the best of the best in the three point competition in all-star weekend against the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and he looks to be poised to be ready to make his mark on the playoffs.
The biggest trade move of all, and one could say was an idiotic move now by then Lakers General Manager Magic Johnson is the addition of D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets roster.
The Lakers needed cap-space to sign LeBron James and with Lonzo Ball being picked up the Lakers decided their future was no longer with the problem-filled D’Angelo Russell who was infamous for snitching on then guard Nick Young who Russell filmed admitting to cheating to his then fiancé Iggy Azalea.
Russell was improving every season, drafted at 19 years old he was setting career highs left and right in his rookie season. He dwindled down a lot in the next, but he still looked to be a promising young guard despite not taking the Lakers anywhere near the playoffs.
On June 22, 2017 Russell was traded with Mozgov to the Nets to get rid of Mozgov’s horrible contract for the 27th NBA Draft Pick in 2018 which netted the Lakers a stud in Kyle Kuzma and the Nets star Centre, Brook Lopez.
The rest basically has been played out to you this season.
D’Angelo Russell secured his first all-star berth in the 2018-2019 season and has lead the Brooklyn Nets to their first playoff berth since the 2015 core of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams. He’s a young star guard who’s stated he’d love to stay in Brooklyn due to the culture there.
This is a massive win for the Nets, they’ve picked up a superstar through savvy trades and the whole team ethos has been about redeeming or proving yourself in a no pressure situation.
They look to be in even better shape this year after picking up Faried’s contract from the Nuggets to pick up their 2019 draft pick. They’ve gotten rid of Mozgov’s contract by picking up Dwight Howard and giving away some of their own 2nd round draft picks.
Sean Marks has done the impossible, he’s turned trash into an ever appreciating silver.
The Nets don’t have the proper cap space to sign anyone big in the 2019-2020 season, but that’s okay. They’ve got their star guard in D’Angelo Russell and the possibility to make big moves in the 2020-2021 season.
They’re one of the best spots a free agent can land now and have an even brighter future than some of the other teams who’s been stuck in purgatory of the 6th – 8th seed in the past couple of years. The Nets is one of the best example of where you don’t need to tank to have a bright future.