Old players and a young coach is no way to win an NBA championship. The Brooklyn Nets have learned this the hard way–on the court and at the bank.
Coach Jason Kidd reportedly ripped into his players after their Christmas Day defeat to the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls. The Nets lost 95-78, again falling apart in the second half. Shortly after fans chanted “Fire Kidd,” Kidd got fired up in the locker room and tore into his team.
With players not responding to the pleas of the coach, when does ownership respond to the pleas of the fans?
The revamped, budget-breaking team, unveiled to fans in a dramatic Barclays Center pre-season press conference, appears on track to play as one of the biggest busts in NBA history. The newly acquired duo of Kevin Garnett (6.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Paul Pierce (12.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) looks every bit like players worn down from 35 years of NBA competition. The leader on the bench, fined for a bush-league intentional drink spill to delay a game in November, coaches like someone suddenly thrust into the world’s premiere basketball league without any coaching experience.
Spillgate may be a metaphor for the Nets’ season. Despite the embarrassing act of desperation, Kidd’s antics never paid off. Sure, he succeeded in delaying the game. But when it came time to draw up the play during that added time, the Nets didn’t get it done. They lost at home to the Kobe-less Lakers 99-94. Similarly, the quick fix of stocking their roster with expensive contracts grabbed attention but not wins. The Brooklyn Nets are willing to dispense with dignity or dollars to win–they just aren’t able to win, at least not very much.
The Nets have compiled a 9-19 record this season. Paying out more than $100 million in player salaries, and an estimated $80 million luxury tax for blowing through the NBA’s $59 million salary cap, the team has spent $20 million for each of its wins a third of the way into the season.