Despite having the highest payroll in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets are nowhere near championship contention.
The Nets are paying over $US70 million for the core of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Kevin Garnett this season, but are only 8th in the Eastern Conference at 13-16.
As head coach Lionel Hollins looks for ways to rejuvenate the team, he’s turned to bringing Williams and Lopez, two of the team’s biggest stars, off the bench.
Both Williams and Lopez’s numbers are down from their career averages this season. Williams is averaging 15 points and 6.6 assists per game while shooting a career-low 39.9%. Lopez is averaging 14 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting a career-low 48% from the field.
In two games off the bench, Williams has averaged 7.5 points on 4-13 shooting. Lopez has come off the bench the last three games and averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds on 7-17 shooting. Hollins snapped when asked about Lopez after the Nets’ loss to the Indiana Pacers, saying “You have to ask him where his confidence is. Where is my confidence in those guys that shoot so poorly on the bench? This is a different story.”
Both players have negative net ratings on the court this season, meaning the Nets are being outscored while both players play.
Williams signed a five-year, $US100 million contract with the Nets in July 2012. Lopez signed a four-year, $US60-million extension with the Nets the same summer. Combined, they will make over $US35 million this season alone.
Injuries have played a big part in both players’ regressions. Lopez missed 67 games last season with a foot injury, and he’s missed 10 games this season with further foot problems. Williams has had various ailments, mainly in his ankles, that have only allowed him to play more than 70 games in a season once in the last four years.
ESPN reported earlier in December that Williams, Lopez, and Joe Johnson are all on the trading block.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.