It’s well-known that the Brooklyn Nets 2013 blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry backfired.
The Nets were ousted in the second round of the playoffs that season. Terry was traded that same year, Pierce left in free agency the next summer, and Garnett was traded last season.
In total, the Nets spent $US197 million on salary and taxes during the 2013-14 season for a 44-win team and one playoff series win.
Unfortunately for the Nets, the trade keeps looking worse two seasons later.
While the Nets didn’t give up much in terms of players, they’re paying a price now they never thought they’d have to deal with at the time of the trade.
To make up for their lack of valuable players to send to Boston, the Nets gave up their 2014, 2016, and 2018 first-round picks, in addition to the right to swap draft picks in 2017. At the time, the Nets thought they’d be contenders with late-round picks while the Celtics would be a lottery team in rebuilding mode.
Instead, the Celtics are coming off a playoff appearance and figure to fight for one this year, while the Nets have started the season 0-5.
There isn’t much to be optimistic about on the Nets. Their offence is anemic, scoring 93 points per 100 possessions, second-worst in the NBA. They have few natural playmakers and the offence is built around Brook Lopez, an ageing, inefficient Joe Johnson, and a high-end backup point guard in Jarrett Jack.
Meanwhile, their defence is giving up 110 points per 100 possessions, third-worst in the league. Lopez, while talented on offence, is a slow-footed big man, and the Nets have little in the way of rim protection or perimeter defence.
While the Nets should be applauded for taking a big shot at a championship, they did little to protect themselves should things go south, as they are now. The Nets could finish in the bottom half of the lottery this year and have to send a top pick to a playoff team. The same could happen next season if the Nets get a higher draft pick than the Celtics, thus allowing Boston to swap picks with them. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems clear the Nets should have at least put a top-five or top-three protection on these picks in case things go really badly.
Perhaps the Nets’ only saving grace is the impending salary cap boom, which should give them cap space to sign some top players. However, that’s also the same team-building method that pushed the Nets down this slope in the first place. Ultimately, what the team really needs is a fresh start with young talent to develop and build around
Unless the Nets figure out how to turn it around this year or next, it may be a painful few years until the team finally gets out from underneath their disastrous trade with the Celtics.
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