Jul 18, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; From left Paul Pierce , owner Mikhail Prokhorov , Kevin Garnett , and Jason Terry during a press conference to introduce the newest members of the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets: Prokhorov Made Team Retirement-Home Old, Deal With It

Honestly, what did everyone think was going to happen when the Brooklyn Nets bailed on any long-term planning to win New York in the now?

By winning New York, I mean by being more competent than the New York Knicks. Which, if we are just basing it off this season, Brooklyn certainly did.

Although, winning New York means absolutely nothing. As much as we all put on the importance of the city, the size of the market, or whatever, being the best product of your kind in New York does not mean you automatically win championships. If that were the case, if winning NYC was that important, maybe the Knicks would have won more titles during my lifetime than I have NBA points.

But if that was the goal, well, heck, the Brooklyn Nets did it. They are a more competitive team, today, than the New York Knicks. So what? What does that even mean? Does the Post hand out a trophy to them?

The idea of what Mikhail Prokhorov wanted to do was pretty simple. Make his organization a top-tier, no longer second-rate, alternative to New York fans. How he went about doing that, though, has cost the franchise any room for growth. Well, any room for the next few years, at least.

It started noble enough. Even with hindsight being 20/20, it seemed like a good idea to bring Deron Williams into the fold. I mean that. Seriously, who could have imagined that just a few short years later that — the once, arguably, top point guard in the league — would have zero ankles left. Not you. Not I. Certainly not the Brooklyn Nets.

No matter, Deron Williams and his inability to have ankles are now on the books for $19,754,465 next year. That’s not even mentioning the absurd $22,331,135 Williams has coming his way for the 2016-17 season.

Then Brooklyn did what so many inept franchises have done before them, overpay for a so-so, not really a superstar but a really good, basketball player. This player, who merely costs the Nets $23,180,790 next year and $24,894,863 the following, is belovedly known as Iso Joe Johnson.

By beloved, I mean much maligned.

May 14, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson (7) shoots the ball over Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis (9) in the first half in game five of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

May 14, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson (7) shoots the ball over Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis (9) in the first half in game five of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Nevertheless, Johnson has his attributes. Heck, it could even be argued that now that we have diminished his worth as a player because of him being overpaid, that he is actually an underrated player.

Sadly, Iso Joe and the ankle-less Williams were just the start.

Those two moves are not the issue, though. As much as both seem like iffy moves now, back then it kind of, sort of made sense. If by sense, we are talking about playing for decent playoff seeding and not NBA titles, it actually made all the sense in the world.

However, decent playoff seeding and winning New York was not enough for Prokhorov.

We can’t really blame him for being ambitious, either. There is nothing wrong with trying to be progressive or win games right away. Although, mortgaging the entire future of the franchise by clinging themselves to decomposing corpses is why Brooklyn has no legitimate future of consequence left.

Are Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett still players of worth? Sure, why in the hell not. Are they as valuable as three future first-round draft picks? At the time of their acquisition, was their window as open as even one in Chicago in December? Nope. Not even close.

They are old. Like old, old.

That didn’t matter to Brooklyn. That was going to be their core-four or whatever. A foundation of future basketball success built off overpaid players, decaying skill sets, and banking on three-out-of-four ball-heavy players being able to play with each other.

Oddly enough, the least likely thing did happen. Iso Joe, Deron Ankles Williams, and Paul Pierce did actually figure out how to play with each other.

Eh, well it did take them a Brook Lopez injury until they learned how to effectively to do that. And no one could have ever imagined, not even the best scout on the Brooklyn staff, that a bionic Shaun Livingston would be a key reason why it did.

Oh, yeah. That Brook Lopez fella. A player they actually didn’t trade for. He’s still pretty young, right?

Yup. Therein lies yet another problem. Lopez — who the Nets played better without this past season — is only 26 years old. He also happens to be making more than $15 million a year over the next two seasons. So, um, what in the heck do the Nets do with this guy going forward?

Really, what does Brooklyn do with anyone or anything going forward?

Lopez, Garnett and Iso Joe are all untradeable. In fact, if you think they are, I’d like to give you whatever has been making weird noises in my garbage the last few days for 20 bucks.

Pierce’s contract is up. Do you let him walk? You know, to clear up the zero cap space that the move would open up? Or do you keep the declining player? What’s The Truth?

Between four players, one of them not being their core four (Lopez), Brooklyn is eating more than $60 million in salary for next year. That’s not counting whatever they decide to do with Pierce.

So, yeah. Lopez is coming off an injury, but Brooklyn plays better without him anyway. Pierce is an aging free agent who doesn’t really help you, whether you keep him or let him go. Garnett is basically a solid player at this point, a good teammate/locker room guy, who only costs you $12 millionnext year. Iso Joe is, um, Iso Joe. And Deron Williams has officially run out of ankles.

Did I even mention yet that Shaun Livingston, a key player in Brooklyn’s January-to-Febuary success, is an unrestricted free agent?

So tell me, Prokhorov. Was it all worth it? Was winning New York, using the same tactics that have made the Knicks a non-factor for decades, worth it? Was chasing a second seed in a horrible Eastern Conference, only to be eliminated by a team much better than you, worth ruining your future?

Of course it wasn’t.

OK, I’ll admit it. Maybe it was. Maybe the 2013-14 NBA season could be considered a success for the Brooklyn Nets. They did find a possible diamond in the rough type of coach in Jason Kidd. They also managed to make the playoffs, too. Holy cheese and crackers, they even managed to crack the second round of the playoffs.

It only cost them $102,828,064 ($31,080,064 over the cap, so not factoring in luxury-tax), a slew of future first-round draft picks, and any near future of having a competent team being put on the court over the next few years.

Sure, Brooklyn will be pretty decent again next season. They won’t be better, though. Old doesn’t get better. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks or something. Decomposing corpses don’t smell better if you spray Lysol on them.

Decomposing corpses don’t smell better if you spray Lysol on them
Overpaying salaries, even if Prokhorov does not mind paying the luxury tax, does not mean Brooklyn is overpaying the right players.

Brooklyn is retirement-home old. There is no getting around that. There are no possible moves to be made to make this team any better in the immediate future.

At least you got 2016, Brooklyn. Unless you’re going to go after (the then) jelly bean-less Kobe Bryant.

Like many retirement homes, Brooklyn is old, has plenty of unmovable parts, and is in a place of financial disarray. All in the name of winning a city that doesn’t mean winning anything of relevance, getting a decent seed in the NBA Playoffs, or something along those lines.

Likely something, but hooray offseason optimism–despite not having any room for improvement. Only room to get older — and die.

 

Tags: Brooklyn Nets Mikhail Prokhorov

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