Our Basketball Panel Answers 6 Questions about the NBA’s worst teams (not named Philly) who play tonight in Brooklyn
What franchise has fallen farther? When Prokhorov bought the Nets he expected a title and he tried to buy it. Now he wants to bail. In that same time period the Lakers won a title and then subsequently entered into the delusional years. The kids are running things now and it’s a mess.
Julian Billick: The Nets only because of the Prokhorov angle. He came in thinking he was going to do for the NBA what he did in the global nikel industry but you can’t reinvent the wheel and you can’t buy a title. He had a problem and like all rich people do, his solution was to throw money at it. That didn’t work and so now, subtly, he is trying to secure a large profit on the resale market.
Mallory Stith-Wheat: The Nets. They made some big splashes that required huge amounts of capital. They lost money. They have a non-profitable television deal. The only asset they have is Barclay’s Center. The team is hemorrhaging money. You can’t say that with the Lakers. They are unwatchable but they’ll bank $150 million at the end of this year.
C.J. Hampshire: The Lakers only advantage is Jeanie Buss. She effectively made the Lakers relevant for the next two decades with the t.v. deal she orchestrated. The Lakers will get paid regardless of the results. On the basketball side, the Lakers are clueless and archaic. The Nets aren’t working from the Lakers profit margins. If they were, Prokhorov would be hanging on for dear life. The Nets may play in Brooklyn but they are still the New Jersey Nets. Hence, no one gives a damn.
Brendan Gillespie: The Lakers are the obvious answer just because what did the Nets fall from? A dream? They had two good years when they had Jason Kidd. The Deron Williams thing was just about hope. The Lakers won the title 5 years ago and now they are a D-league defense with a three point shooting or bust offense. They’ll get paid, they are the Lakers. But the product is atrocious.
These teams play tonight. What won’t we see?
C.J.: The top shooting guards in the league. It’s en vogue to harp about Kobe retiring but dude has put 20 years in and in year 17 his body revolted. But what’s Joe Johnson’s excuse? Remember when he used to be iso Joe and that was a good thing?
Mallory: Ball movement. Neither of these teams have a point guard. Jarrett Jack is trying to be one but he’s a shooting guard and D’angelo Russell is a rookie who is not very good at this point. It’s a good sign he’s getting up early to watch film with Bryant. It says something about his work ethic. But he is still leap years away from being a NBA point guard. He’s 19 years old.
Brendan: Nets fans. The Kobe-philes have bought the tickets. This is Kobe’s last weekend in New York as a NBA player. They’ll represent. And who wants to see the Nets anyway? Name one player worth dropping $20.00 for.
Julian: A bad game. When horrible teams play each other it’s pretty competitive only because they are each other’s level.
As far as the front office, who has the better outlook for the future?
Mallory: The Lakers. The Prokhorov experiment will be over but the Nets have contracts on the books they have to get rid of. Even though it looks like the Nets will have a top-5 lottery pick, they just forked over money to Brook Lopez who you can’t depend on. Deron Williams is still on the books next year. They just gave Thaddeus Young $12 million. The Lakers will only have rookie contracts next year and Nick Young.
C.J.: Lakers. They will get a top-3 pick to add to Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and D’angelo Russell. They’ll go young for the next few years but will have lots of money to fill in the blanks.
Brendan: Lakers. The Nets are a disaster as far as the money goes. What free agent wants to play with any of their guys?
Julian: Lakers. Kobe will be gone and they won’t be able to use the no one wants to play with Kobe excuse. They won’t be a destination for top free agents for the next two years. But when Paul George’s contract expires that will change. Julius Randle is going to be a special player. To quote Kobe, he’s Lamar Odom in Zach Randolph’s body.
It’s been 12 years since Byron Scott took the Nets to the NBA Finals. How far has Scott fallen?
C.J: He’s the worst coach in the NBA. He has no insight about the game, no sense of the trends. Last year, he makes the asinine ‘three point shooting teams can’t win’ and oops, a three point shooting team won. This year he reverses course and the Lakers shoot the most threes but they are bad shots, more catch and shoots or iso three’s, not three’s off of dribble penetration and ball movement. He doesn’t have a basketball theology.
Julian: He’s a joke. What’s he’s doing to that Russell kid is the same thing he did with Jason. But Jason was a star so he fought back and won. Jason got the label as coach killer and I’m not saying he was perfect but Scott is one of those coaches that believes in intimidation.
Brendan: He’s not a good coach but he was always a placeholder. I think this will be his last coaching job though. The league is about youth and he, by his own words, doesn’t believe in developing players.
Mallory: He was bad in Cleveland though he did develop Kyrie Irving. He is bad in L.A but he did develop Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle looks likes he’s the real deal. So there is the good and the bad with Scott. I say he is the Lakers coach until they get a quality free agent which will be a few years down the line.
So is Deron Williams getting the last laugh? The Nets have his salary on the books next year and he is on a team that has won two games.
Julian: Yes. He got out. Players badmouthed him once he was out the door but he never fit in with the northeast corridor culture. Williams is very insecure; he’s not tough. You have to be arrogant to be a star here. Or , really, really good. And he wasn’t, primarily because of injuries.
Mallory: No. He’s on an average Dallas team. They won’t make the playoffs but won’t be bad enough to get a top-5 pick. Look at his numbers this year. They are pretty identical to last year. His overall shooting percentage has ticked up but his 3-point shooting is down, and his assists are what they always are. Pencil him in for 6 asissts a game.
C.J.: No. He’s descending but now he can do it at home and not face the bitterness of New Yorkers. He gave up some cash too. I’d rather be scoring 12 points and making $21 million in the East rather than scoring 12 points and making $5 million in the West. But give him his props. The Nets fired him and they haven’t won a game since so he must have meant something.
Brendan: Yes. He made sure the Nets were laughably awful this year. Williams wasn’t who he used to be but he could still run a NBA offense and every 10 games or so be the old Deron Williams. The Nets are miserable. They can’t even score 90 points. But with the Lakers defense, they will probably score 120 tonight.
I’m glad you said that. How embarrassing would it be for the Nets to lose to the Lakers who I think is the worst team in the league, outside of Philadelphia. And how embarrassing would it be for the Lakers to give up 115 points to a team that can’t bother to score 90?
C.J.: Whoever loses this game should forfeit league play for two months.
Mallory: The only team that scores more points than the Lakers are the Warriors, Thunder and Clippers. They Lakers are an analytics dream example because they shoot the most threes in the NBA but at a low percentage which is still better than two point shots. They are the 4th best scoring team. They make the case for jacking up shots. If they had any defense at all they’d be fighting for a 8th seed. So if the Nets score a lot of points no one will be surprised. If the Lakers beat them because the Nets can’t score, that would be ho-hum business as usual.
Brendan: The Nets losing would be a catastrophe only if they lost by not scoring on the Lakers defense or if they make Kobe seem like anything more than ordinary.
Julian: The Lakers have nothing to lose in this game. If they win it’s because they can put points on the board. If they lose it will be expected because of that horrific defense. The Nets play in the east. They have not won a game. They were in the playoffs last year with this same team minus Deron Williams who they called a cancer and made the villain. They have to win this game. Next up is Milwaukee and then Houston. They’d be 0-8. Everyone expects the Lakers to be bad. They are a team whose best players are rookies or second year players.