The franchise has one of the largest collections of offensive talent in the modern NBA. Joe Tsai, Co-Founder of Alibaba Group, Takes Over the Bill
- Lakers Andre Drummond, the signing that compromises the role of Marc Gasol
The Brooklyn Nets have always been a losing team. Incompetent to tenderness. They are the team that was left out of playoffs because its pavilion was occupied by a circus. The one who did not dare to choose Kobe Bryant in it draft because it was believed that the boy preferred to play in Italy rather than with them. For half a century they have not stopped moving looking for a hobby that they did not even believe existed. Although no one can deny that they did not go out of their way to attract attention:
with 49 years. They wanted to buy the name of the town where they played and resell it to Nike. Despite so much defeat, even his fans will have laughed. If they exist.
What else if not a second will you be if you chose your name just because it rhymed with the New York Jets (NFL) and the New York Mets (MLB). Or if you intend to overshadow the Knicks in the Big Apple. For so many things, until a year and a half ago its history was marked more by the stars that escaped than by those that went. They had the rights to
for the ABA, but they failed in the negotiation. They had to sell to
to afford the NBA entry fee. And so on until in 2019
they agreed to play together on the team.
The most romantic point out that the patient and methodical work of their sports director,
, was decisive in convincing the two superstars, but the portfolio of
, co-founder of the Alibaba Group (Aliexpress), which that summer paid more than 2,000 million euros for the rest of the shares of the Nets and another 1,000 for the pavilion. In January, Durant and Irving forced the arrival of
and in the last weeks they have added
. Between salaries and the luxury tax, the bill for this course will exceed 200 million.
The union of Irving and Durant (plus the demand to sign his friend
with an out-of-market contract, or the termination of the technician
) is proof of the power that NBA stars now hold over their future. So was the signing of Harden, who forced his departure from Houston when he still had two years left on his contract and put only two destinations on the table: Brooklyn, where he would meet up with Durant and
, the coach who best expressed his talent and who is now an assistant
, or Philadelphia, where he would with
, its great supporter.
The first challenge was to build a balanced attack with three such dominant players. Yes, Irving shone as LeBron’s second sword and Durant is the most devastating and moldable scorer in modern basketball. But putting it all together took an even greater effort than the Warriors had to do when KD himself arrived in the Baha. The result so far is being remarkable: the Nets have the most efficient attack (scoring 117.1 points per 100 possessions) and Harden, who has assumed the role of director, has entered the race for MVP.
If they didn’t have enough firepower, in the last few weeks they’ve added Griffin and Aldridge. Two lost All-Stars, but with enough game in reserve to be the discards, that market in which illustrious veterans offer to play for the minimum wage in exchange for aspiring to the title. His signing gives the Nets overwhelming closet depth, who already had good secondaries like
Joe Harris, Bruce Brown o Nicolas Claxton
, but also complicate the work of Nash and D’Antoni. Until now the most complicated part of the challenge has been building the defense and the two suffer on that plot.
A complex puzzle
Both Aldridge and Griffin provide new solutions in attack. One is perfect as an open and the other can function as a generator and scorer. However, neither of them is a better fit on defense than they already had. Since James Harden arrived, the Nets have gone for a defense with more assignment changes, a system that D’Antoni already used in the Rockets and where the
Despite the bad reputation (long deserved), he responds better. But Aldridge, less and less mobile, suffers in those situations and with Griffin it is inches away. If they have arrived with a commitment of minutes, they can cover the power of the best defense, the young Claxton, or an excellent defender like Brown. They have a deep template and rich in solutions, but the puzzle is complex.
When the russian tycoon
bought the (then) New Jersey Nets in 2010 and promised that if the team hadn’t won the NBA in five years, it would marry. Almost a decade passed and neither the Nets won, nor Prokhorov walked down the aisle. His successor, Joe Tsai, has not made a bet of that caliber, but the margin he has placed is even shorter. After
lending credibility to the franchise with a long-term, patient project, the Taiwanese owner has risked everything to a dizzying toss-up: Durant, Harden and Irving are a devastating trio, but they may hit the market in 2022. time for Nash and D’Antoni to form a champion group.
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