Friday, July 16, 2004

M-M-M-Martin and the Nets

A crazy offseason in the NBA is getting even more crazy, with mega-millions still being handed to role players at an absurd rate. Two main shouting points have come from this spending so far. One is that NBA GMs are crazy and this will never end. While a lot of these deals (especially those done by Chris Mullin) are nuts, the great equalizer out there is still the salary cap. Eventually these guys will wise up: their jobs depend on it. And as far as the second result of the offseason: for those who say that the East will be better this year because of Shaq, I wouldn't be too sure. The East's best player Tracy McGrady has headed west to team up with Yao and the boys, and now Kenyon Martin is going to the Nuggets.

The Nets sudden fiscal restraint is very puzzling. Its true that they have a new owner who will be moving the team to Brooklyn soon. But for a team that is moving, wouldn't it make more sense to move over a competitive team? Sure you save a few (ok...a little more than that) million, but think of the problems caused when you have a new venue to fill and your team is Richard Jefferson and Zoran Planinic. Actually...I would buy a ticket to see Zoran. But what the Nets are doing here is very dangerous. After next year, the deals of Kerry Kittles and Dikembe Mutumbo (yes, they're still paying him) run out. Maybe the team can get lucky and somehow buy out the remaining years of Alonzo's contract. All of a sudden paying Martin, Jefferson and Kidd isn't so bad. While they have come up short the past few years, I still think that core could win an NBA title. Most of their problems were in the half-court, where nobody could make a jump shot. As my Dad says: "Nobody misses shots like Kerry Kittles". Get some one-dimensional shooters on the cheap, hope big-man Nenad Kristic is as good as advertised, and finally sign a decent backup for Kidd (something Rod Thorn hasn't done since he traded for him), and the Nets can be a contender again.

Now with Martin gone, and Kidd locked up long-term, the Nets are have neither the identity of a rebuilding team or a contending team. If they had done the Kidd-for-Parker swap a year before, and kept Martin, you have a young exciting team that has growth potential. In contrast to Parker, Jason Kidd's career is on the decline. Brendan over at These Days doesn't like what this means:

Nothing's worse in the NBA than being locked in the midrange of mediocrity, and as a Knicks fan as well as a Nets fan, I've certainly seen how dreadful it can be. In letting Martin go for financial reasons, the Nets have essentially conceded their ability and willingness to compete with the core of Kidd-Martin-Jefferson-Kittles. I'd rather they hadn't done that, but what's done is done and it's time to make the best of the remaining options. From here, I think a true rebuild is the best of what's left, and as a Nets fan, I will say I'm a great deal more likely to buy a ticket to see a young, exciting rebuilding team than I am to see a mediocre, old, shriviling one, even if the shrivilers have a moderately superior record.

Now as a Bulls fan, this is sentiment I can appreciate. As unbelievably frustrating as watching the Bulls can be, its fun knowing that there's potential (there's that evil word again) for growth. Wouldn't you rather have it that way than what the Nets fans are about to endure?