The Brooklyn Nets have had a difficult season that has been made that much harder following Brook Lopez's season-ending injury this past weekend. The team, which had championship aspirations in the offseason and the highest payroll in the NBA, currently sits well outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Besides Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, and Deron Williams have all missed time due to a variety of injuries. The team has had trouble finding continuity. Player's are unsure of where they fit in the team's system.
Rookie Head Coach Jason Kidd is basically learning how to coach on the job. He certainly could not have envisioned this sort of turmoil when he pushed himself as a candidate for the vacant position just days after retiring from his playing career. He even hired a former coach of his, Lawrence Frank, to be an assistant on his staff. A few weeks into the season, Kidd claimed to assign Frank to watching tape and giving Kidd notes on upcoming opponents and that he would no longer be on the sidelines during games or at practice.
Since a stretch where the Nets won four of five games (and looked to be gaining some positive momentum especially after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers), the team has responded by losing four straight. Lopez was injured during the Nets overtime loss at the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Nets have lost the last two games at home to the Indiana Pacers and Bulls by 17 points each.
So, what do the Nets do now? Let's take a look at some of the team's options.
Stay With the Team
There's no question the Nets have not played up to anyone's expectations. But it's hard for players to learn their roles and build continuity when there is no consistency as to who suits up. The Nets have been forced to use multiple starting lineups as each member of their predicted starting lineup of Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Lopez has missed games. Now, there will be games where Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche or even Reggie Evans will be starting in place of Lopez.
Kirilenko, one of the Nets key pickup's this offseason, has only played in four games due to back spasms. He is expected to make his return soon. Kirilenko is a high energy, versatile player that can play either forward position and can do multiple things on the offensive end. Brooklyn can undoubtedly use his presence.
Jason Terry has played in just 12 games this season and has struggled for the most part while on the court. Part of his struggle, however, can be attributed to being with a new team and not being comfortable with his teammates.
(Part two coming Sunday)
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