Notes on the Nets...
Steve Nash talked about a few different Nets topics in his Town Hall last week. One was his impression of Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.
“Caris’ performance in the bubble, I think he made the all-bubble team, showing how prolific he can be scoring and playmaking. He’s a big guard who also can get into the ball defensively,” Nash said. “He can improve a lot as well, which is exciting. He can continue to grow and improve.
“Jarrett, the same,” Nash added. “I thought his performance in the bubble showed some big growth at both ends of the floor. He was more dynamic at the defensive end, expanding his game there, getting out and playing farther out on the floor, covering guards, moving his feet for stretches that we hadn’t seen in the past, and then his rim protection I think has been his cornerstone.
“Offensively, I think he’s getting better in traffic. He’s getting a better feel, and he’s going to continue to grow there, too. So, two very talented players who have youth and a lot of upside and are great pieces to put in the mix here for this team.”
Obviously, Nash isn’t going to say publicly that the Nets are going to include either LeVert or Allen in an offseason trade for a third star. But it’s noteworthy that both he and Kevin Durant have offered high praise of LeVert. Durant agreed with the idea that LeVert could be the "third star" who’s been discussed often with Brooklyn.
With regards to Allen, the Nets can offer him an extension prior to the season. But it seems unlikely that they would sign Allen to an extension prior to the season. He will likely be a restricted free agent next summer.
One other roster note for Brooklyn: several teams monitoring the free agent market expect the Nets to decline the $5 million team option on Garrett Temple for 2020-21. Things can always change between now and the date the Nets have to make the decision (some time later this month). But I’d be surprised if the Nets picked up Temple’s option. I don’t know if the decision is based on a potential Nets tax bill, but I wouldn’t assume that it is.
If the Nets decline the team option on Temple, the veteran will get interest from several suitors during free agency.
I’m not here to do the job of Temple’s agent, but I think it would make sense for the Knicks to sign Temple. He’s someone who can help a team build winning habits and would be helpful for all of New York’s younger players. Just my opinion. The Knicks will certainly have the cap space to do it.
NASH TALKS 'COLLABORATIVE' APPROACH
When Durant and Kyrie Irving said that the Nets will take a collaborative approach with coaching next season, it drew a strong (mostly negative) reaction. The rationale? Nash was being undermined, which isn’t what you want for your first-time head coach. That rationale is understandable, without the full context of the podcast.
But it’s worth noting that Durant said in the same podcast that he and Irving will accept being coached hard and held accountable by Nash. When Nash spoke about his offense last week, it seemed like he was on board with the collaborative approach Irving and Durant had referenced.
“I definitely don’t wanna come in with too many hard and fast concepts and designs. I’d much rather come in with principles with ideas that allow our players to collaborate with us and allow their personalities and the dynamic between them and the chemistry to have a role in how it evolves,” Nash said. “People talk about the Phoenix teams I played on and this sort of revolutionary tone of how it impacted the game, but the truth be told, Mike D’Antoni’s brilliance in much of that was he allowed it to evolve instead of getting in the way. I feel like a lot of coaches feel the need to design every aspect of something, and I feel you leave too much on the table that can be found through the personalities, the connectivity, the dynamic on the floor and in the room.
"I want us to play fast, I want us to space the floor. I want us to create opportunities to get downhill with our ball-handlers and make plays for one another. Attack closeouts. A lot of high-level philosophical thoughts, and of course we’ll design and have offensive sets and things that we think fit our group, but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves with the offense. We want it to stay pretty high-level right now. (The focus lately has) frankly been all on defense. We’ve spent all of our time over the last few weeks building that.”
NASH DOESN’T SHY FROM TITLE EXPECTATIONS
Here’s Nash response to a question about expectations for the 2020-21 season:
“We’re playing for a championship. I don’t want to say that anything less than a championship is not a success because you never know what happens in life, you never know the way the ball bounces. Fortune is a big part of winning an NBA championship. But we are playing for a championship and we’re going to build accordingly. We’re going to frame everything we do in the lens of, ‘Is this a championship characteristic or is this worth championship quality?’
"Other than that, are we growing? Are we striving? Are we pressure-tested? Are we continually asking of each other and ourselves that individual collective growth every day and creating an environment that is fun but challenging and collaborative? If those tenets are being met, there’s a lot of success and reward in that. But we are playing for a championship.”
The Nets have a first-time head coach and two top players (Irving and Durant) who haven’t played together before. Normally, a team like this would need to some time to coalesce. But, as Nash says, the expectations in Brooklyn will be championship or bust for 2020-21 and for Durant and Irving’s tenure in Brooklyn.