Tag Archives: Brooklyn Nets

Hi! How Was Your Summer? Boston Celtics

Photo: Helen Thorn/Flickr

2012-’13 Record: 41-40

New Faces: Brad Stevens (Head coach); Keith Bogans, Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Donte Green and Gerald Wallace

New Places: Doc Rivers (Head coach, Clippers); Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White (Brooklyn); Shavlik Randolph, Terrence Williams, and Kris Joseph (Waived); Fab Melo

Draft: Kelly Olynyk (via Dallas)

Whether or not Danny Ainge will admit it, this summer marks the end of an era for the Celtics. It’s hard to sell a rebuild to any fanbase, especially be the Celtics’, but if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck…it probably is a duck.  So, I understand why Ainge or anyone in Boston is trying to avoid publicly calling it one. But it’s pretty obvious, and you can’t fault them for looking to the future at this point.

Gone are championship team fixtures Pierce and Garnett, and Terry as well. In come Humphries (The face of  the 2013-’14 Celtics for half a season?), Brooks, Bogans, and Wallace’s bloated contract. More evidence of a rebuild: Boston received up to four 1st round picks in the Pierce/Garnett deal from Brooklyn in 2014, 2016 and 2018, with the option to swap picks in 2017.

The Celtics also made a great move toward the future in acquiring Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk on draft. Terrific in the half-court, Olynyk works well in the pick ‘n roll, which should make Rajon Rondo happy when he returns. He also shot 70 percent at the rim during his senior season in college which, if that ability translates, should make everyone happy. Paired with Humphries’ ability to rebound (when healthy), the Celtics could potentially have a nice frontcourt pairing by season’s end.

Boston’s offseason has set them up well for the future. Aside from the picks, they will have some cap flexibility down the road. Humphries’ contract comes off of the books after this season; the last two years of Bogans’ deal are unguaranteed, saving them up to $10 million after this season; and with the expiring contract of Brandon Bass and Brooks’ team option after 2015, the Celtics could have an extra $7 million for Rajon Rondo as he will be simultaneously due for a new extension then as well.

It may not be a fun prospect to face being just five years removed from raising a championship banner, but the Celtics will likely be able to return to contention sooner than if they chose not rebuild and decided to make another run for the sixth seed instead. They’ll have Rondo, Avery Bradley, and some other decent pieces, but they will be terrible. Yet, if you’re going to be terrible you may as well do it just in time for the revered 2014 draft. Sometimes rebuilding isn’t so bad.

A Bargain in Brooklyn

Photo: DiGitALGoLD/Flickr
When you’re a veteran former All-Star with an injury history and a player option for an upcoming season you have a lot to consider. Should you choose to exercise your option you know exactly where you will be playing and for how much. However, should you decline in hopes of landing in a better situation or for more money or years, you risk leaving some money on the table. New Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko discovered this as he chose to decline his 2013-’14 option with the Timberwolves and wound up leaving $7 million dollars on the table.

After arguably being Minnesota’s Most Valuable Player last season, Kirilenko was seeking a longer contract with an annual salary around $10 million. Given the team’s cap space situation and the impending free agencies of Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger, paying Kirilenko that much was hardly feasible for a team in the Timberwolves’ situation. Instead, Kirilenko opted-out and the Timberwolves moved on, turning the space created by his departure (as well as the Luke Ridnour trade) into Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer, while being able to retain Budinger on top of that. The Timberwolves were able to bolster their perimeter shooting with Martin and Brewer could potentially replace Kirilenko as a defensive energy guy.

This isn’t to say Kirilenko landed in a better situation. He’ll be able to come off the bench behind Paul Pierce, meaning that he won’t need to play as many minutes as he was forced into last season and be able to save his body for what should be a nice playoff run for the Nets. And at just $3.1 million per year, that’s a bargain for what he can bring to a team when healthy. Being back with Deron Williams and surrounded by more offensive weapons than he was last season should also take some of the pressure off of Kirilenko as well.

Still, since we never heard any mention of Kirilenko hoping to latch with a contender in hopes of winning a title before retirement, it’s odd to see him leave nearly $7 million on the table  since that was the reason his camp gave for leaving Minnesota. Perhaps for a player with who has made $101 million dollars in the NBA alone the money no longer matters as much as having the security of a long-term contract. Barring physical breakdowns for many of the Nets’ key parts, the team should also be fairly competitive in that time, too.

The Nets’ bench will now resemble either a utility belt whose versatility will help them mitigate mismatches or wind up looking like something closer to that junk drawer in your kitchen. For instance, the Nets will have Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans, Mirza Teltovic and Tornike Shengelia in addition to Kirilenko  as their frontcourt reserves. That’s not a lot of scoring off of the bench in the frontcourt, potentially creating an imbalance that puts greater pressure on the backcourt to carry the load when the Net’s starting forwards and centers take a rest. That, or the plan is to rely on heavily on the starters, hoping everyone also stays healthy, and then surrounding those guys with niche players like Evans and Kirilenko.

Of course this may workout especially well since Kirilenko is very efficient when trying to score within the flow of the offense, evidenced by his .506 percent shooting from the floor last season. Just as long as he doesn’t have to create or try to freelance, then he should be fine. While Kirilenko can score, he’s not as consistent as others because of his inability to create for himself, which means he’ll go as far as his craftiness will take him.

As of now it seems as if Kirilenko tried to test the market and at least broke even, despite leaving so much money on the table for this season and when you consider the destination in  which he landed. Maybe landing on a sub-contender for less money and more years was the plan all along, making it easier to swallow the fact that he won’t make as much money over the next three years as he would’ve had he stayed in Minnesota. As of now, Kirilenko’s decision to decline his option has paid off for the Timberwolves, Nets and himself.

LION FACE/LEMON FACE 5/3/13: WHY DID THAT SERIES HAVE TO END?

Night 13 of the 2013 NBA Playoffs is officially in the books. We had one series that people can’t wait to end and one series that people wish was a best of 15. We had Lion Faces; we had Lemon Faces. Let’s get to them.

Lion Face: The Nets starting lineup

Consistency can be a beautiful thing in a starting lineup over the course of a game, and the Nets had plenty of it last night. Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson all scored 17 points while Gerald Wallace dropped in 15. While Reggie Evans only managed 2 points, he pulled down 15 rebounds. With their powers combined, the starting five helped Brooklyn to force a Game 7 in this series as they head back to New York.

Lemon Face: The Bulls health

Derrick Rose remaining on the bench despite being cleared to play limited the chances of the Bulls to make any sort of playoff run as it is, but additional injuries to Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich coupled with Luol Deng and Nate Robinson suffering flu like symptoms is just overkill of a cruel joke by the basketball gods. Deng was a late scratch, but Robinson and Noah gutted their way through 42 and 43 minutes respectively. The Warriors may have played the late game, but there were warriors in the early contest as well. While the Heat would still be overwhelming favorites in the East, it’s a shame that we never got to see Chicago at full strength this year since they could have at least made Miami work for it.

Lion Face: Nate Robinson (yes, again)

We might need to start renaming Lion Face to Nate Robinson Face if this keeps up. Robinson played through the flu and scored 18 points for the Bulls, but it was this move that he pulled on Kris Humphries that secured him a Lion Face:

GIF via @cjzero

Looks like Kris Humphries would like to have that highlight annulled/was left at the altar/[insert your own awful Kardashian joke in this space].

Lemon Face: Fans that bought tickets to the Rihanna concert at Barclays

Apparently the Nets win last night forced Rihanna to postpone her concert in Brooklyn on Saturday night to Tuesday which has left fans none too pleased. Rembert Browne of Grantland retweeted some of the folks affected by this change, and it also serves as a reminder to never read Twitter in times like this or Internet comments at any time.

Lion Face: Kosta Koufos

Sadly, I am no longer able to claim that I have made as many three pointers in the NBA as Kosta Koufos after last night. Demonstrating no regard for the shot clock in the middle of the first quarter, Koufos dribble the ball outside the arc, looked up at the shot clock on the opposing basket, and chucked up a triple that found nothing but the bottom of the net giving him his first three in his seven year career. As the saying goes, a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while.

GIF via SBNation

Lemon Face: The Nuggets on the road

With the loss last night, the Nuggets fell to 1-13 in their past 14 playoff games on the road. Not that it is by any means easy to win a playoff road game, but Denver is approaching unchartered territory here. Their inability to win on the road forces them to be perfect at home if they have any chance of winning the series as a higher seed with home court advantage, and it basically seals their fate if they enter the series as the lower seeded team. Atlanta and Houston frequently get branded as the epitome of “Treadmill of Mediocrity” teams, but the Nuggets are doing their best to usurp that title. This is now the ninth time in the past ten seasons that Denver has made the playoffs and failed to advance past the first round.

Lion Face: Steph Curry’s Second Half

Image via NBA.com

Image via NBA.com

5-8 from the field, 4-6 from beyond the arc, 16 points, and the added benefit of energizing the raucous Oracle crowd. Curry’s performance in the 3rd quarter (4-6 FG, 14 points) helped the Warriors pull ahead and they never looked back in moving on to the second round for the first time since the 2007 “We Believe” team. It’s a good thing Curry stepped up in the second half because…

Lemon Face: Steph Curry’s First Half

Image via NBA.com

Image via NBA.com

1-6 from the field, 0-2 from beyond the arc, 6 points. Oof. Curry’s been sensational in this series, but he cannot afford to have too many halves like this if the Warriors want to have any chance of upsetting San Antonio. Roaracle can only do so much to impact the outcome of the game, but at the end of the day, as always, it’s going to come down to the players on the floor.

Statistical support for this story provided by NBA.com

The Evolution Of Brook Lopez

For all of his offensive prowess and growth on the defensive end, Lopez’s reputation this season was always going to depend on what happened in 2010-11. While two years is an eternity when measured 48 minutes at a time, it wasn’t that long ago that Brook Lopez was a 7-foot punchline:

“What’s 84 inches tall, sounds like Andre the Giant and rebounds like Vizzini from the Princess Bride?”

Little in the first chapters of his career hinted toward the precipitous plunge to come. Lopez entered the league in 2008 and started 75 games for a then-New Jersey Nets team that would see zero improvement in the win column over its previous season. Where the Nets did see progress with their new franchise center was on the offensive end; New Jersey went from 25th in the league in offensive rating in 2007-08 to 16th in Lopez’s rookie season. And his rebounding was solid, as well — he grabbed 9.6 boards per 36 minutes, though he played only 30 per game.

The decline in Lopez’s rebounding numbers began in 2009-10, but some of that can be attributed to the confusion of playing for three different coaches over the course of a lost season. As different strategists employed new defensive systems, Lopez looked more and more lost on that end of the court. As a result, his defensive rebounding numbers took the biggest hit; it’s difficult to clean up a mess when you’re not sure where you are, after all.* Still, his numbers weren’t awful, and an increase in playing time meant 8.6 rebounds per game. On the offensive end, Lopez continued to develop into the player we see today: a high efficiency monster in the post who draws just enough trips to the free throw line to offset some of the lower probability shots in his repertoire. His 6.2 free throws attempts per game (at a rate north of 80%) helped lead to the highest True Shooting percentage of his career to date, and he posted a PER of 20.1 in just his second season. His defense was still limited, stymied by a lack of system and his own flatfooted flash dancing through molasses. It was easy to imagine the Nets righting the ship, especially with the offseason addition of Derrick Favors and the hiring of Avery Johnson, and to see Brook Lopez at the helm.

*The 2009-10 season also saw the introduction of Kris Humphries to Brook Lopez’s sphere of influence. Suffice to say Hump’s presence on the court was to Brook’s rebounding as the Opium Wars were to Chinese financial independence in the 19th century.

Save the absence of Favors and Johnson, a relocation to Brooklyn and a new owner, that’s exactly what happened for the Nets. But before they could reach this point, the view of Brook Lopez had to reach rock bottom. It started in June of 2010, when Lopez made it known that he’d battled mononucleosis over the offseason, starting in early May. He said then that he felt fine; by the end of July, however, it was clear at Team USA scrimmages that he was still struggling to get himself into shape, if not fighting the aftereffects of the illness itself. New reports came out shortly before the start of the 2010-11 season that Lopez was indeed healthy, and Nets fans can’t be blamed if they were cautiously optimistic for a new future led by a massive frontline and a rising star in the coaching ranks.

Yet for some reason, Lopez was not himself that year. He played in all 82 games, just as he had in his previous two seasons, and he continued his ascent on offense, garnering nearly three more field goal attempts per 36 minutes than he had the year prior. In his 35 minutes per game, he scored 20.4 points, but his minutes were in fact down, if ever so slightly. But it seemed as if he were conserving energy to some extent. His defense took a step backward, but the most notorious and noteworthy decline came in his ability to grab the damned ball when somebody missed a shot.

Blame the mono. Blame Kris Humphries. Blame Lopez playing too far from the hoop. Blame his lack of rebounding skills.

Regardless of context, he totaled six rebounds per game. Per the consensus at the time, such behavior from such a tall man was a mortal sin. Brook Lopez was damned to the tribe of Yabuts. For all of his positives and Avery Johnson’s trust in running the late-game offense through Lopez — a growing anomaly in a league shifting away from back to the basket centers — his critics had a ready-made response.

“Yeah, but he can’t rebound. I need my 7-footer to rebound.”

The end of the lockout was filled with a million little moments of redemption. Brook Lopez and the Nets were no different than the other 999,999. This time, there could be no questions. Lopez was healthy; the mono was well in his past. He’d had plenty of time to work on his game, of course, in the extended hell of summer (and fall) of 2010. And most importantly, the Nets had acquired what every big man needs: an elite point guard. Deron Williams came aboard toward the end of Lopez’s carom catastrophe year, but his own injury limited his time on court with his new teammates. The 55-game slate offered a new laboratory in which to experiment with all the pick and roll chemistry a team could ask for.

Sadly, every experimental lab needs a Wayne Knight-esque saboteur, and Lopez’s right foot was more than willing to fill the role. Two separate injuries would limit him to five games last season. Any chance to shed his reputation as a “soft” big man who couldn’t rebound if his twin brother’s life depended on it was lost to the whims of broken bones.

Finally, though, the pieces have come together. At first glance, Lopez’s rebounding numbers aren’t significantly different between this year and 2010-11; he’s only averaging 6.9 boards per game this year, compared to the six for which he was formerly vilified. His minutes are down this season, though, which obviously suppresses his per game numbers. More descriptively, he’s grabbing a larger percentage of available rebounds than he has in any season since 2009-10. He’s not back to the limited sample size of his rookie year, when he looked like a glass-eater, but his rebounding on a per possession basis is back to an acceptable level. The stigma attached to his game faded as his vigor on the boards renewed. And that small improvement means we can focus on the important things, like just how dominant Lopez has become on the offensive end and his vast improvement in defending the pick and roll. Much is different between this season and last for Brooklyn, but literally the biggest change is the presence of Lopez in the middle. A team that ranked 23rd and 28th, respectively, last season in offensive and defensive rating is this year a top-10 offense (8th) and a mediocre defensive team. Given where this team was last season, that’s an enormous improvement.

And that improvement begat the first postseason trip of Lopez’s career. So far, he’s delivered in every way imaginable. He’s protected the rim in a way I’m not sure anyone expected. His pick and roll defense has been more than satisfactory against a Chicago team whose offense is under consideration as the new international standard definition of absolute zero. His game is the perfect antidote to this trapping Bulls defense, and he’s feasting on the offensive glass against the small Chicago frontline. He’s grabbing almost 13% of available offensive rebounds when he’s on the court this series, generating extraordinarily valuable second possessions against one of the best defenses in the league. And he’s getting to the free throw line at a higher rate than he ever has in his career. Watching his battles with Joakim Noah is easily the most entertaining part of a series struggling for intrigue, Nate Robinson included. And more often than not, Lopez is winning that battle or, at worst, fighting Noah to a draw. It’s the only way that Brooklyn is still in this series.

This has been a year driven by injuries of all sorts. Yet in that dark cloud, Brook Lopez is a shining silver lining.* His health had derailed a previously stellar career and caused him to be a joke among NBA fans. Now that he’s healthy and ready to play, though, he’s the one delivering the setup and the punchline. The Nets are down 3-2 to the Chicago Bulls in their first round series. Their continued existence in this postseason tournament seems circumstantial. If they do manage to bounce back and move on, though, it’ll be on the back of their franchise center. He’s finally ready to be that guy. No laughing.

*I said silver lining, Brook. Not Silver Surfer.

Statistical support for this piece provided by NBA.com/stats

15 FOOTER, 4/29/13: Losing is not an option

Before we get to previewing tonight’s games, you really need to take a few minutes and read the incredible, powerful Sports Illustrated piece on Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay player in any of the “Big Four” men’s professional sports leagues. Today was undoubtedly a watershed moment in sports, and I would be remiss in my duty to cover the latest news going on in the NBA without linking to the article at hand. Now, on to the games tonight…

Chicago at Brooklyn (7:00 PM, TNT)

Interesting decision by the NBA as this will be the first ever day-night doubleheader in NBA history as these teams are expected to finish up Game 4 around 6:30 PM and then go right into Game 5 at 8:00 P…oh wait, I’m now being told that Saturday’s marathon actually did finish with the Bulls riding Nate Robinson to a stunning 142-134 3OT victory. It is a good thing that the Bulls were able to prevail in Game 4 because any time you have people comparing Nate Robinson’s performance to the infamous Sleepy Floyd Game in the 1987 Western Conference Semifinals, you pretty much cannot afford to waste that performance. We almost did not get to see most of the greatness, however. A blown dunk by C.J. Watson that would have put Brooklyn up 16 to play with 3:16 left in the game could have provided the dagger for Brooklyn and rendered Robinson’s performance irrelevant, but like the 3:16 verse in the Book of John states, instead it gave the Bulls everlasting life in a game that seemingly took forever. As we head into Game 5, the stakes are simple. For the Nets, it’s win or go home. For the Bulls, it’s win and head to Miami. I still think Brooklyn has one last gasp in them though.

Prediction: Brooklyn 96-91

Indiana at Atlanta (7:30 PM, NBA TV)

Surely the Law of Averages dictates that at least one of the games in this series will be relatively close, right? After the Pacers crushed the Hawks by 17 and 15 points in the confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the momentum shifted when the series headed back to Atlanta where Indiana only mustered a Celtics-esque 69 points in 21 point loss to the Hawks. George Hill and Lance Stephenson have to quickly block out and forget about whatever they were doing on Saturday night as they combined to go 2-15 from the field. Meanwhile, Al Horford was in Beast Mode as he busted out with a tidy little 26-16 performance. This is as close to a must win game as the Hawks could possibly face because there is no way they are taking three straight from Indiana if they lose tonight. Unfortunately for them, I see Hill and Stephenson’s performances as more of an aberration than a harbinger of things to come. Plus, I picked Indiana to win this series in five games, and I’m sticking by that.

Prediction: Indiana 98-88

Oklahoma City at Houston (9:30 PM, TNT)

As a basketball community, it is no secret that we are frequently driven by narratives. Whether it’s Tracy McGrady’s inability to get out of the first round, the Lakers problems that began in training camp and lasted through the end of the season, or a myriad of other talking points, we love looking at the same story through the context of different lenses and making it our own. Of course, one of the most popular narratives that we see over and over again is whether or not a team is secretly better without its best player in the lineup. Call it the Ewing Theory if you want, but just this year, we’ve seen it rear its head with Derrick Rose and the Bulls, Rajon Rondo and the Celtics, and now Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Let’s stop this right now; no, the Thunder, despite getting 41 points from Kevin Durant in Game 3, are not better off without Russell Westbrook. No, Westbrook was not holding Durant back in any way, shape, or form. Instead, what we saw in Game 3 was Durant putting a team that needed him on his shoulders and leading them to victory, even if he needed a little luck along the way. I mean, seriously, he broke eight laws of physics on this shot alone:

GIF via SBNation

So no, it’s not that Westbrook was getting in the way of KD; it’s just that the Durantula is really freaking good. And a majority of the time, the team with the best player on the floor wins the series. Houston, you have a problem, and his name is Kevin Durant.

Prediction: Oklahoma City 103-99

LION FACE/LEMON FACE 4/26/13: CAN’T TAJ THIS


Miss any of last night’s action. Actually, so did I. I went to sleep at 10 and got a great night’s sleep, thanks for asking. Oh, what’s that? You want me to shut up and make with the .gifs and the jokes? I see how it is. ONWARD!

Lion Face

TAJ GIBSON OH MY GOD

Twitter exploded in a fury of exclamations and Taj Gibson puns last night, and for good reason. Even though Gibson didn’t quite dunk over Kris Humphries, it’s safe to assume he still smothered Humphries’ mortal soul. Dunk of the playoffs, so far.

Lemon Face

The Brooklyn Nets/C.J. Watson

First, there was this.

Courtesy of NBA.com

Courtesy of NBA.com

That, dear reader, is Brooklyn’s shot chart from the first half. It’s fine, I’ll wait until you return from wiping away the vomit you almost certainly just spewed all over your monitor.

Yet, somehow, the Nets valiantly fought pack from this putrid, wretched, makes-your-eyes-bleed first half shooting performance to not only bring the game within 3, but have the last possession as well. Truly, it was like an epic fantasy, complete with C.J. Watson, unceremoniously eschewed from the Bulls, set to exact revenge against his former team by tying the game. Watson sets up in the corner, receives the ball, and launches. Through the air the ball soars, climbing, climbing, climbing, then falling, falling, falling…and falling well short of the basket.

Lion Face

LARRY SANDERS!

Courtesy of SBNation

Courtesy of SBNation

No, it hasn’t quite turned out the way Brandon Jennings predicted. But at least we, and the Bucks, have LARRY SANDERS! And not just shotblocking LARRY SANDERS! But coast-to-coast dunking LARRY SANDERS! Too!

Lion Face

Zach Randolph

See. I knew it. Randolph’s just a big teddy bear. Also, an honorary Lion Face goes to Matt Barnes for not peeing his pants when Z-Bo stomps towards him. I would have immediately assumed the fetal position.

Lemon Face

DeAndre Jordan’s legs

Like 7/11, they’re open 24/7. What’s Marc Gasol’s favorite spice? NUTMEG! I’ll show myself out.

Lion Face

Ray Allen

Allen had his regular season three-point record broken by Steph Curry. No matter, says Allen, I’ll just go and get another record. Congratulations to Allen, now the owner of the most made three-pointers in playoff history.

15 FOOTER, 4/22/2013: The Most Deranged Playoff Preview You Will Ever Read

If you just opened this like I or someone else told you to, tie yourself down to whatever chair you’re sitting in, because this 15 Footer is going to be a fun f’ing ride.

For those of you that have your heads stuck under rocks, there was an epically fantastic e-mail sent out by a Delta Gamma sorority sister at the University of Maryland last week which has made its way around the interwebs at warp speed. It really is an e-mail we have all dreamed of writing at one time or another, so I tip my cap to her for actually having the guts to actually follow through on this. Inspired by her performance, let’s take a look at the playoff games on tap tonight.

Chicago at Brooklyn (8:00 PM, TNT)

First of all, Brooklyn, you SHOULDN’T be chanting BROOOOK-LYYYYYYYN at random times. I don’t give a crap if your boyfriend is chanting it, if your brother is chanting it, or if your entire family is chanting it. YOU DON’T CHANT IT RANDOMLY. And you ESPECIALLY do f’ing NOT convince others in your section to chant it with you at inopportune times. Kudos to the Nets crowd for getting it right by busting it out when up huge in a playoff game. On the court and away from the blackout in the Barclays crowd that would make CISPA opposers proud, Deron Williams looked fantastic in Game 1 providing 22 points and dishing out seven assists. He looks like he does not give an F, and he WILL f’ing assault Chicago in this series if this keeps up.

Newsflash: Teams that give up 80% shooting in a quarter generally don’t win playoff games. Chicago allowed Brooklyn to shoot 16-20 from the field during the second quarter in building a 25 point lead heading to halftime leading people to ask, “Are the Bulls going to reach 80 points?” That wasn’t a rhetorical question. People literally wanted to know if the Bulls would crack the 80 point barrier. They eventually hit the 80 point mark with 3:17 to go in the game. Oh wait, DOUBLE F’ING NEWSFLASH: Running your starters into the ground during the year may cause those players’ bodies to break down when it matter most. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah both finished in the top 15 in minutes per game this season, and Noah was noticeably hurting during his 13 gritty minutes on Saturday. He is expected to play through his plantar fasciitis tonight, but his impact is expected to be limited.

Prediction: If you’re a Bulls fan living in New York during the day, this following message is for you: DO NOT GO TO TONIGHT’S GAME. It’s not going to be pretty. Nets 101-92.

Memphis at LA Clippers (10:30 PM, TNT)

I do not give a flying crap, and the Clippers do not give a flying crap, about how much the Grizzlies rebounded this year. They had 82 games out of the f’ing year to rebound, and this week is apparently NOT, I repeat NOT ONE OF THEM. Memphis as a team pulled down 23 rebounds in Game 1 with 7’1″ Marc Gasol pulling down 2 and Zach Randolph, who averaged 11.2 rebounds per game this year, recording 4 boards. This week is about winning games in the basketball community, and that’s not f’ing possible if the Grizzlies are going to stand around and talk to each other and not focus on their matchup.

Chris Paul is the type of person that can cause people to send texts to others and get them cheering for the opposing team. The opposing. F’ing. Team. Personally, I cheer for my own team, and I don’t give a crap about sportsmanship, but CP3 is so much fun to watch. He was a point guard savant on Saturday in carving up the Memphis defense to the tune of 23 points and 7 assists while seamlessly shifting from facilitator to scorer and back again. To those that think that there is any sort of debate as to who the best point guard in the league is, I have to ask, HAVE YOU NEVER BEEN TO A SPORTS GAME? ARE YOU F’ING BLIND?

Prediction: Clippers 115-102. And for those of you who are offended at this pick, I would apologize but I really don’t give a crap. Just kidding, you guys are great. Enjoy the games!

ParoxyVision Epsiode 4

Episode 4! Playoffs? Playoffs! Playoffs? Playoffs? That’s right, we’ll be talking about the playoffs, starting at 12 ET/11 CT. Do the Lakers have a chance against the Spurs? Will the Nuggets/Warriors series be the most fun thing ever? Will the Bulls/Nets series be the most boring thing ever? Tune in and find out.

Have a question? Ask it in the chat or tweet it to us using the hashtag #Paroxyvision.

RTOEABC: Avery’s Been Canned

Avery Johnson won Coach of the Month in November, and he was fired in December. The Paroxysm guys (Jared, Sean, Ananth, Derek, Dylan, and Clint) try to figure out where it all went wrong.

1) In Haiku form, give your reason as to why Avery Johnson was fired (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables).

Jared:
The Nets from Brooklyn.
Their coach, he was fired because
Deron Williams said so, yo.

Sean:
Chilling with models
Prokhorov told he owns Nets
Made the call from yacht

Ananth: Not really answering question but here is a haiku made up of an adaptation of Avery Johnson Jr’s tweets (@itsaveryjohnson)
players couldn’t make shots
Didn’t give my dad a full season
a fuxking Outrage

Derek:
You don’t bench Humphries
He used Brook Lopez’s hair gel
He had a funny voice

Dylan:
We are not winning
Let’s panic panic panic
You are welcome, Deron.

Clint:
There once was a point guard named Deron
Who got coaches fired like he was Charon
Blamin’ the wrist
Ridin’ river Styx
To an owner who pretends he is carin’.

Wait, that’s not a haiku…

2) Is there any one person who deserves the blame for the Nets’ recent stagnation?

Jared: I’m not sure if he/she is a person, but I blame the BrooklyKnight.

Sean: It was a group effort. DWill is disgruntled and not playing well. Kris Humphries is in the doghouse. Brook Lopez has been hurt. Avery was running a ton of isos and reminding us why we hated IsoJoe in Atlanta. But you can’t fire the players, I guess.

Ananth: Yes, Kris Humphries because he is Kris Humphries.

Derek: Not necessarily just one person, no. You could point to Deron Williams’ shooting, or they’re too thin, evidenced by leaning on guys like Stackhouse, Blatche, and Evans too much. Maybe their core won’t mesh like they thought. No matter what I keep coming back to the fact that they’re .500 just 28 games into the season.

Dylan: No, because assigning particular blame is always a frivolous pursuit. But it seems management was afraid of Avery’s panic-stricken lineup shuffling and largely set-in-his-ways dynamic, so they went with the quick hook. The iso-heavy offense isn’t working, mostly because only Brook Lopez is a true isolation player, and so the team has been left at an offensive impasse. Still, this is a new team with a new dynamic, and they did play well to start the season. That has to count for something, even if it apparently doesn’t.

Clint: Clearly, this is a Kardashian Effect hangover.

Seriously, though, Deron’s wrist still isn’t right, even after surgery; he’s averaging career lows in field goal percentages and a career low assists since becoming a starter. Even if the Utah Jazz’s trade that netted both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter (from a draft pick acquired) doesn’t pan out, said trade is looking better and better for that fact alone.

3) PJ Carlesimo is the new interim coach. If he weren’t, who would be the best interim coach of the people available? Who’s the best fit of coaches NOT available?

Jared: Stan. Van. Gundy.

Sean: Best coach available for this roster is Jerry Sloan. But the best coach available for the Lakers is Stan Van Gundy, which was about as likely. Actually, wait a minute. SVG would be great in Brooklyn too.

Ananth: I am still not sold on PJ as a head coach; know he has been around the game forever and has been a solid assistant coach everywhere he’s been but his stints as a head coach have never really impressed me. Would have liked to see one of the other assistant coaches, like Mario Elie or Popeye Jones given a chance; see what they can do. As for an interim coach who is not currently with the Nets? Would be great to see Stan Van Gundy work his magic on this team; I am a big fan of SVG but supposedly he has no interest in the job. Ex-Russian Head Coach David Blatt would also be interesting, with the Prokhorov/Russia connection but he is currently the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv. As always the answer for any open NBA heading coaching job is Phil Jackson because rumors.

Derek: PLEASE, SHAMMGOD. JERRY SLOAN FOR NETS COACH, BECAUSE I LOVE IRONY. For this team I think you would need an experienced coach that players respond to, but that isn’t too overbearing. Not sure who, but we’ve seen how Deron has responded to those types in the past.

DylanThis guy. As for the second question, this guy.

Clint: I’d still really like to see Mo Cheeks get another shot at head coaching. He’s a guy that might be able to reach Deron on a point guard level as maybe the most underrated point in NBA history. Obviously, Phil Jackson could probably do the most, but he’s not available for a team like the Nets.

4) What’s with Deron Williams and his coaches getting fired? And what’s with Avery Johnson getting fired for micromanaging his point guards?

Jared: That shit cray. Man, I’ve been waiting so long for an opportunity to say that.

Sean: I don’t know, but you know who doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would get two respected coaches fired? Damian Lillard.

Ananth: Still too early to say that it was Deron Williams who got Avery fired. I am sure he was behind it but this is America so innocent until proven guilty. Avery Johnson is known as the “Little General” so micromanaging is in the job description for his nickname.

Derek: I can’t say for sure, but those things may not be unrelated.

Dylan: I would have forced Avery to re-adapt the offense to his personnel – well, person, as in Deron Williams. He’s the player that makes this team (not) go, so it seems like a no-brainer to put him in pick and roll after pick and roll. And while Brook Lopez may be more of a low post player than a picker and a roller, his remarkable touch around the rim coupled with an easier ability to establish deep post position post-roll would benefit both players. Not to mention that if you run P&R’s on Joe Johnson’s side, you force help defenders to make an impossible choice: sink off Joe Johnson and give up a wide open three to one of the league’s best shooters, stop Deron Williams from barreling all the way to the rim, or defend against the Williams-Lopez alley-oop. Okay fine, Lopez layup. Still, he’s good at that.

Also, play Andray Blatche more. He’s really good.

Clint: In reality, this is a case of losing turning into finger pointing. By nature, people want someone to blame when things aren’t going right, and while it may start with Williams not being 100% healthy, the fact of the matter is losing games led to the firing, not Surly Deron.

5) The Nets are a team built on big money, big names, and a gamble. If it were up to you, would you have kept Avery because of everything you invested to make this team what it was? Or would you have also dumped Avery Johnson because of the aforementioned gamble and high stakes?

Jared: Dumped. The Nets are all in on “Deron Williams, Franchise Player” and it doesn’t seem like he wants Avery to coach him. With an $80-million plus payroll and no cap room in sight, this is their team, for better or worse. If the marquee player wants a new coach, you go get a new coach.

Sean: For a team that cares this much about media perception, it’s always better to fire a coach you’re unsure about before the start of a season than two months in. There’s no way to react to this news other than “Nets are pressing the panic button.”

Ananth: The Nets had Star Wars level hype coming into the season and so far have not lived up to it so I would have probably dumped Avery as well. It seemed like the team was just going through the motions and perhaps a new voice could spice things up. Kelly Dwyer, as usual, has a great take on the situation.

Derek: I keep coming back to the fact that it’s just 28 games in, and they were playing well at one point. I don’t believe many thought they’d be Finals contenders, but I can see why the Nets made the move if they had higher expectations, and greater belief in the team’s potential.

Dylan: Say what you want about the Lakers and Mike Brown and not giving him a chance, but he wasn’t the right coach to manage a bunch of superstar personalities. He’s reserved and x’s and o’s and purely basketball, not emotionally basketball. Now the Lakers did mess it up by hiring D’Antoni over Phil, but that’s another conversation. The point is that quick triggers aren’t such a bad thing, always. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but it is broke in Brooklyn, so fix it. Avery Johnson has his way of coaching, his style. Coaches adapt, but they don’t change. His offense will always be partially iso-heavy, and the personnel does not fit that style. Brooklyn is not winning it all this season anyway, so you might as well put the right coaching core in place to build towards a future.

Clint: I would have put Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov in a Thunderdome with majority stake in the team at the top of a 24 foot stepladder with rusty nails sticking out of it and let Spike Lee officiate it with prejudice.

6) If a “shake up” was mandatory, would you have also fired Avery Johnson, or would you have gone another route?

Jared: I would have moved the team to Newark.

Sean: If it was this or trading for Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract, I’ll take firing Avery.

Ananth: The Nets have a solid roster but it wasn’t gelling in the larger sense. If it was a mandatory shake up, firing seems like the only option in this case. Also since the Nets are “shaking” things up:

Derek: I guess if a shake up was mandatory you fire the coach or make a panic trade. Unfortunately for Avery, you can’t fire the players, and it was easier to make a coaching change than try to orchestrate a trade given the contacts and roster.

Dylan: Firing Avery Johnson was the only option because the Nets are financially inflexible and possess very few movable parts. They were squeezed by their own roster-assembling ineptitude, really. Still, I would have fired Avery Johnson because he is not the right coach for this team. The whole iso-heavy thing, as discussed before.

Clint: Johnson was just Coach of the Month in November. It’s like the Coach of the Year curse has been truncated like a lockout season. It’s an instant gratification world we live in these days, with little patience for learning curves. I don’t anticipate much more success for this firing, at least as long as Deron Williams continues to play at a career low level, whether it be untold health reasons or any other.

Avery Johnson Fired From The Nets, Who Should Have Seen This Coming

Photo from quinn.anya via Flickr

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/WojYahooNBA/status/284357218147651585"]

Avery Johnson was relieved of his coaching duties Thursday afternoon, and it’s hard to say nobody saw this one coming. The Nets are spiraling out of control in every way possible: the offense is stagnant, the defense (save for one Gerald Wallace) is disinterested, their max star has publicly spoken out against the system, they’re paying Kris Humphries $12 million a year to attract animosity on the bench, their mascot is named after an adult actress – it’s all bad, and even worse, it’s a very mainstream sort of bad, which just doesn’t work in Brooklyn.

Johnson never really had a chance in Brooklyn. His transformation from brilliant incoming defensive mind in his first Mavericks coaching seasons to a gray, uninspiring type aside, this roster was always built towards something it could not achieve. Aspirations of championships and control over New York City are grand dreams to dream, but the depth chart shows a different story. It worked early on, with an overmatched bench unit inexplicably crushing teams instead of struggling, to stay within reach, but you can only count on Reggie Evans’s defense and Jerry Stackhouse’s shooting for so long before it all falls apart.

And it was always going to fall apart. This roster is top-heavy, and that top is flawed. Joe Johnson has now dragged a third straight coach down isolation hell, as his two last coaches are suddenly running flourishing offensive systems atop the Eastern Conference rankings. Meanwhile, Deron Williams is either not willing or not capable of being the type of player who was consistently compared to Chris Paul atop the world’s point guard rankings. For all the talent around him, this was a roster desperately in need of him efficiently bullying his matchup to the point of easy shots for him and his teammates.

You’ll excuse me for this offensive focus, even as the Nets rank 11th on offense and 21st on defense. But this squad was always going to win, if it could, by virtue of the offensive end. The grind-it-out style that Avery Johnson seems to be most comfortable with is a horrible fit for an athletic frontcourt that often struggles with positioning and pick and roll defense. And while you can’t fire your $100 million dollar star point guard for shooting 29% from three, or your prized shooting guard acquisition for posting a PER in the lower teens, you most certainly can fire your coach for taking an offensive squad and playing at the league’s second slowest pace.

The focus today will be on Deron Williams, and rightfully so; a former consensus, we are now three years into Williams acting as a somewhat petulant overhyped focus. We’re running out of evidence that Deron is even close to elite, his motivation seems more absent than wavering, and he’s now been heavily involved (if not directly responsible – I’ll allow the reader to fill in on the speculation) in the firing of two coaches in less than 24 months.

But I can’t get away from the Joe suspicions here. Public opinion on Joe Johnson has swayed wildly over the years, as he’s gone from underrated to overrated perhaps more than any player in the league since his breakout year in Phoenix; going in to this year with the Nets, in a situation where he could be Joe Johnson and not Joe Johnson’s contract, I was cautiously optimistic. Word out of Brooklyn was that ISOJoe would be gone forever, but if anything, it’s become more prominent and more depressing. Deron worked well as an off-ball point guard next to the likes of Jordan Farmar, Brook Lopez is at his best when he’s cutting through the lane and catching at the mid-post, Gerald Wallace is a terror cutting towards the rim, and yet when Joe has the ball in his hands, everything boggles down.

It’s unfair and somewhat lazy to point at Joe and say his absence is why Mike Woodson is succeeding with entirely different personnel in New York; and Larry Drew’s Hawks look better to the eye than in the Joe days, but they rank below these Nets in offensive efficiency. But the visual of 4 uninvolved players as Joe dribbles has been running on League Pass for too long. Whoever comes in will need to find a balance that keeps Joe involved but includes others, helps Deron recover but doesn’t frustrate Joe, all while maintaining what has truly been an excellent year from Lopez and a resurgence from Andray Blatche – who all “leaving the Wizards!” jokes aside, clearly benefited greatly from Avery’s presence and has already grieved his departure on Twitter.

Oh, and fix the defense, without players who can play any. Lest we forget.

I don’t see available coaches who I trust with all these tasks; I’m not sure there are many unavailable coaches who I trust with all these tasks. These Nets, sitting at .500, are only slight percentage points lower than where they probably should have been. Of course, with expectations through the roof and an owner who may or may not be crazy, may or may not be paying attention, and most certainly has an unlimited budget – this is not enough. Anything is in play with this team going forward (sign Phil Jackson as coach! Trade for Pau Gasol! Close down the Barclays Center, move to the moon!), just don’t expect the results to be as good as Brooklyn expects.