Over the next month, CBSSports.com's Eye On Basketball will take a team-by-team look at the 2012-13 NBA offseason. We continue with the wonderful marketing concept turned basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets.
How they finished 2013
The first year in Brooklyn was supposed to be better than the burning dumpster rolling downhill than the Nets had been for most of their history. The Marvel Comics-designed mascot, the super-high-tech new building, the billboards and T-shirts and coozies. ... the Nets were more of a marketing concept than a team.
But they were pretty good. Good enough for the fourth seed when the Bulls ran out of steam late in the season. Good enough to give the Knicks a bit of a run for the division. Good enough to sell some merchandise.
They just weren't serious. They were like big-budget movie with a flashy cast, but the actual script is a sea of holes. And when the playoffs came, the reviews were released and reality sunk in.
They still made a ton of money.
But the Bulls, who by series end were a pitiful joke because of injuries, patching bullet holes up with duct tape, dismantled the Nets in their first-round series. It wasn't only that the Nets couldn't defend, they lacked anything resembling the edge necessary to advance. They needed more than talent upgrades, they needed a culture change.
Needs entering the offseason
They needed better depth on the wing and a player to provide interior defense. Brook Lopez played the best defense of his career, but remained a weak point. Andray Blatche was a nice surprise but only on the offensive end. Kris Humphries, not so much.
They needed shooters, but needed anyone who could defend at any level more. The Nets were the model of why points per game is a poor indicator of on-court success. Brooklyn was sixth in points allowed per game, but 17th in points allowed per possession. They were bad on defense and played slow.
Mason Plumlee at No. 22. Hey, if KG doesn't kill him, it could work out great! It's Darwinism, only with pasty Duke forwards.
Free agency and trades
So they had themselves a little offseason, didn't they?
Mikhail Prokhorov walked up to the CBA's restrictive, ultra-punitive luxury tax structure and took a whiz on it, starting by capitalizing on the Celtics' transition after Doc Rivers' departure to nab Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Pierce and Garnett address their defensive needs, even at their advanced ages (35 and 37). They may not be elite, but they will be an improvement, and that was the key. Garnett can defend the rim, Pierce can body on the perimeter, and with Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, they have some options, and that's not including the addition of Andrei Kirilenko.
The Nets dumped Gerald Wallace's contract, dumped Humphries' contract, got two Hall of Famers with some game left in them -- and only had to give up their draft picks until the end of time and MarShon Brooks. Not bad.
And they weren't done.
The Nets landed Kirilenko for considerably less than he reportedly asked from the defending Western Conference champ San Antonio Spurs, but is totally above board (P.S.: I have a family, please don't hurt me).
Kirilenko shores up their only weak spot and gives them a versatile player on both ends who perfectly fits this roster.
And oh, hey, Jason Terry got thrown in as a bonus in the Celtics deal! Score!
Overall grade and accomplishments: A
The Nets got better by landing big names, which also will sell more tickets and merchandise. They didn't make any terrible signings, addressed team needs, and took a big step forward. It was a huge summer for them.
Are they a contender? Sure. They seem a good lock to win at least 50 games, possibly 55 or even 60.
Sure, their draft future is compromised, they're massively overpaying their players relative to production, they're reliant on a whole lot of guys more than 30 years old, and Garnett may kill Lopez, but still.
All in all, super fun summer. Plus, I bet they sell a lot of T-shirts.