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J.R. Smith Takes a Shot at Paul Pierce

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COMMENTARY | When the Brooklyn Nets left New Jersey, management had intentions of taking New York City away from the New York Knicks.

The team has done a lot to transform itself, and it has also spent a lot of money in doing so. The first step in becoming the dominant team came when the Nets re-signed stars Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, making them significant players in the Eastern Conference. This offseason, the Nets took it to another level with their blockbuster deal with the Boston Celtics.

With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett now in Brooklyn, many believe the Nets will be the best team in New York this season. Last year's team was talented, but looked very flat at time and clearly lacked leadership. The Eastern Conference looks to be much-improved, and the Nets are a big reason why. The Knicks have no plans of going anywhere, but they weren't able to make quite the same splash.

There has been plenty of chatter this offseason about who will be the better team. The Knicks clearly had the edge last season, when they were the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Nets were busy losing to a depleted Chicago Bulls team in the first round of the playoffs. Paul Pierce believes this year will be their season, as his Nets look to take over the Atlantic Division. Of course, J.R. Smith disagrees.

In fact, J.R. went as far as to call Pierce "bitter" in the latest development in the war of words.

If the Knicks and Nets express themselves on the court as well as they do off the court, this should be a very interesting season. There has been plenty of trash talk, and we can only hope that they bring this passion to the floor.

The Nets have certainly made the bigger splash this offseason, but they were also the inferior team last season. As the Eastern Conference grows stronger, both teams should be major competitors. Pierce always seemed to bring his best against the Knicks while he was a member of the Celtics, and hopefully he continues to do the same with the Nets. Hopefully, J.R. will match Pierce's intensity.

It's about time that more teams challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. Both the Knicks and Nets need to step up to the plate this season, and they both have the capability to do so.

Chris lives in Connecticut and covers the New York Knicks. He grew up in New York and is a lifelong follower of the NBA.

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