Avery Johnson, the coach of the team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets, soon to be called the Brooklyn Nets, tried to assess what was truly a bizarre season for his team.
"I've been in the league now for 22 years, and this was definitely an unusual year," Johnson said. "It was one of the first words I used in training camp to describe the situation, and it remained that way throughout."
In their final season in New Jersey, the Nets suffered through more injuries than any other team, losing a total of 250 games worth of manpower to injury. There wasn't a single player on the roster who didn't have one injury or another.
Some, such as 7-foot center Brook Lopez, lost most of the season because of injury. Lopez played in only five games, first missing time with a broken right foot and later a sprained right ankle.
"I've never been hurt before, and it just happened to me two times in the same season," Lopez said. "But I don't look at it as a lost season. I spent a lot of time in the weight room, more than I would have if I wasn't injured."
The Nets, incredibly, were a better road team than they were at home, posting a 13-20 mark away from the Prudential Center and going 9-24 in New Jersey.
But Johnson applauded his team's efforts despite its 22-44 record and last-place finish in the Atlantic Division.
"We showed a lot of perseverance, a lot of character and a lot of determination," Johnson said. "We're going to be better next year."
Johnson speaks with optimism, but in reality, he has no idea what his roster will look like for the 2012-13 season, the team's first in its new home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
All-Star point guard Deron Williams already has decided to opt out of the final year on his contract and test the free agent waters. Trade-deadline acquisition Gerald Wallace could do the same if he so desires. Power forward Kris Humphries will be a free agent. So will NBDL find Gerald Green, who emerged as a player to watch after the team plucked him out of the developmental minor league.
"I've built a relationship with those guys and that's all we can do," Johnson said about the status of his top players. "We have a bond with the guys we need to return. With or without them, our organization plans to move forward."
So the franchise remains in a state of flux -- much like it did all season, playing in a temporary location before now moving on to the permanent home.
On Feb. 28, the Nets upset the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks 93-92 in Dallas as Brook Lopez dominated, scoring 38 points. Two days later, Lopez sprained his right ankle and was lost for the season.
No team suffered more injuries than the Nets, who had every player on their roster out of action for some period because of injury. The team lost six players to season-ending injuries and lost a total of 250 games of manpower. "Without question, injuries played a big part of what we were," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "Without the injuries, I thought we had the makings of a playoff team."
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