By Will Gaitings
At 23-51, the season is all but over for the Brooklyn Nets. Still without a first-round pick until next summer, the team remains trapped in basketball purgatory.
It’s been another typical year in Brooklyn. By now, we’ve grown accustomed to expecting the irrelevancy of the franchise as it pertains to the New York sports market.
Let’s revisit how this happened, shall we?
Picture this; it’s the middle of the 2010-11 season and the Nets haven’t won 30 games since Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson dawned the team’s colors.
The franchise is relocating from New Jersey to Brooklyn in two years, but there’s not enough talent on the roster to sell tickets and create buzz.
What’s the fastest way to acquire talent? Through trades, of course.
So, ex-GM Billy King trades two first-round picks to the Utah Jazz to acquire Deron Williams. Not a bad deal at the time.
The following year (2011-12), he trades two more first-round picks to the Portland Trailblazers for Gerald Wallace (not to mention that No. 6 overall turns into Damian Lillard).
During the summer, King trades (wouldn’t you know it) a first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for Joe Johnson.
In their inaugural season in Brooklyn (2012-13), the Nets win 49 games and make the playoffs, but it’s just not good enough.
That offseason, King sends three unprotected first-round draft picks to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry.
Now it’s the start of the 2013-14 season. Things appear all well and good.
Brooklyn’s projected starting lineup is Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov vows the team will deliver a championship. Pierce says the Nets can knock off LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. The turnaround has officially begun.
Sadly, it’s all an illusion.
Brooklyn wins just one playoff series over the next five seasons and doesn’t possess any of its own first-round draft picks until 2019.
Talk about a failed experiment.
It’s really one of the more unfortunate tales in all of professional sports.
A franchise was given the opportunity to rebrand itself in one of the most storied territories in New York City, only to fall back into the same trap it found itself in beforehand.
At this point, it’s hard to offer optimism to Nets fans. The team is trending in the right direction in terms of its youth overhaul and new management, but when push comes to shove, it’s hard imagining a scenario where Brooklyn is a contender any time soon.
Luckily, the Nets take full control of their destiny next season for the first time in half a decade.
All fans can do is hope the organization recaptures the success it experienced 15 years ago, when believe it or not, the Nets were two wins away from capturing their first NBA championship.
For now, though, they wallow in the dungeon of mediocrity.