Ball Don't Lie - NBA

As the NBA preseason rolls right along, Ball Don't Lie looks at all 30 teams, outlining off-season transactions, projecting win totals, creating bogus speeches, spinning tracks, and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Next up, the New Jersey Nets.

Last Season: 34-48; still in East Rutherford

Key Players Added: Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian (from Milwaukee/China trade), Eduardo Najera (free agent), Keyon Dooling (can't recall), the magical Jarvis Hayes, rook Brook — ROOK BROOK! — Lopez, rook Ryan —RYAN! — Anderson, rook Chris — CDR! — Douglas-Roberts

Key Players Lost: Richard Jefferson (traded to the Bucks), Marcus Williams (traded to the Warriors), Bostjan Nachbar (lost to Russia), Nenad Krstic (lost to Russia), Captain Ivan Drago (lost to Russia), Darrell Armstrong (joined the Colombian coffee sector)

KD's Endless Grey Ribbon: It's so nice to see a team decide to take the plunge, stop yearning for the receipts taken from two guaranteed home playoff games in April, and stop deluding themselves. We'd usually give the Nets a bit of stick for waiting two years longer than they should have to kick start the rebuilding process, but what's done is done.

And what's left is not a whole lot. The team is obviously stockpiling cap space for 2010-11, the team has but 25.6 million on the books for that season (excluding a giant list of team options for Keyon Dooling, Ed Najera, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez, Sean Williams, and Chris Douglas-Roberts, among others), and the target is clear. The team wants a superstar in place for the move to Brooklyn.

Until then, this. Not much. An odd mixture of young talent on rookie deals, young talent on second contracts (Devin Harris, potential-laden, a near-star, and paid like one), walking expiring deals (Bobby Simmons), and Vince Carter. VC. The millstone that isn't. Who knows what's going to come of this one?

Carter's situation, and not the play of this outfit, will define the season. If he sulks, he's not going to be able to force his way out, as was the case four years ago in Toronto. Rod Thorn may have taken too long to start rebuilding, but he has a pair, and the same could not be said for the MLSE organization that handled VC back in 2004-05. And though his contract runs past 2010, it's not something that the Nets can't work around. That was a double-negative, but Carter's deal isn't.

For now, at least. It looks pretty bad now, but it could get worse, and this might be New Jersey's best chance to deal the guy. Even working at 80 percent, as has more or less been the case save for a few stretches (at some points late last season, the second half of 2004-05), Carter can be brilliant. He has an almost Johnny Neumann-like way of seeing over the top of defenders for the pass, he can still get the (long, only) rebound and start the break; and even though we hate the fact that he mainly takes fadeaway jumpers, he's one of the best in the league at nailing that shot.

So short of sabotaging plays, as he did toward the end on Toronto, he's not going to hurt. And Thorn has provided coach Lawrence Frank with a series of defensive-minded hustlers (read: guys who we like, but really won't deserve half the minutes they get) to tide him over until the Nets can put a contending team on the floor again. This team will play hard, execute (save for Sean Williams), and be a tough out. But they'll be called out. Time and time again. And my win prediction is dependent on a Carter trade that I'm assuming goes through by February. This is a team in flux.

No matter, because Nets fans should be loving this. The apotheosis of their season won't be a series of 78-72 wins in the first round over, I dunno, the Pacers or something. Admit it, Netsies — that wasn’t fun. This is fun. This could be big.

Until then ... Eduardo Najera!

Expected record: 18 wins


Inevitable Speeches And/Or Songs Had Vince Carter Swapped Lives With ...

... Ronald Reagan: "We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorb— ah, ah, bad cramp! Bad cramp! Ah, ouch. I think I drank that water too fast. Ah, man, I need a quick 20 here. Sorry, sorry. I'll be right back. Continue on."

... Winston Churchill: "Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing— whoa, wait, why are we fighting on the beaches? Shouldn't we be relaxing on the beach? You know, kick up our feet, sip a daiquiri, take it easy. Fighting takes a lot of energy, guys. Let's just all chill out for a sec."

... Rick Astley: "Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gon— look, sorry, this sucks. I quit, lady."

Real Talk, Blog Talk

Dennis Velasco, "What are the goals for this team? To somehow fake like they want to make the postseason, but secretly desire to tank in order to get some prime talent in the 2009 NBA Draft. Is that fair to say? Nope. However, the Nets do not really project to make it into the playoffs, even in the seemingly "weak" Eastern Conference. So, since the much ballyhooed plan is to get LeBron James after the 2009-10 season, why not put some pieces in place that will better the chances of Bron Bron lacing up his kicks in a Nets locker room? Of course, every team wants to make the playoffs, but sometimes, long-term, it might not be worth it. I only speak the truth ... don't judge me!"

Fred Kerber, Nets Blog: "Rod Thorn expects the playoffs. There. The Nets New Jersey Nets president said so today. Asked flat out if he expects a remade, youthful Net team to be in the playoffs, Thorn made his feelings clear. "Yup." Damn, the man can talk your ear off sometimes. Hey, what's he got to lose? Everyone on Earth is picking the Nets to finish somewhere behind Dartmouth in the NBA picture this season. Thorn knows the road will be rocky but he likes losing as much as he likes scorpions on his morning corn flakes."

Dave D'Alessandro, Nets Blast: "Will the [Nets] ever be a defensive team again? They're going to try out a new offense — the dribble-drive motion employed by Calipari at Memphis — but the foundation for all young teams must always be laid at the other end. Once more, with feeling: Aside from a 12-game sequence in the 2007 playoffs, this has been a substandard defensive team the last two years."

Associated Wax: Beastie Boys, No Sleep till Brooklyn

Michael Bay's Twitter Season Projection:

michael_bay: Ugh. The Nets are worse than B Willis in 'Billy Bathgate.' If they win 20+ games, I'll buy Kiki the Southern half of Luxembourg. And a coat.
3:29 PM October 08, 2008 from web

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