Now that free agency has died down, we’re taking a look at where the Nets currently stand position-by-position. Today, we look at management.
Owner: Mikhail Prokhorov.
President/GM: Billy King.
Current 2014-'15 salary cap: $94 million, according to shamsports.com.
Strengths: Prokhorov has demonstrated he will spend whatever it takes to win. He has a state-of-the-art arena, and wants the team to remain competitive and relevant. And King isn’t afraid to make big trades when opportunities present themselves.
Potential obstacles: The Nets lost $144 million last season in basketball operations, according to Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Even with Prokhorov’s deep pockets, that’s a lot of money. The Nets have altered their philosophy a bit since last summer, when they went for it all by trading three first-round picks for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. They expected to have a two-year window for winning it all, but then Jason Kidd left for Milwaukee and the Nets opted not to bring Pierce back in free agency.
Feeling they would not win a title with Pierce, the Nets wanted to try to be a bit more careful with their money and begin to mix in some younger talent with their veteran core. They still want to win, but they also want to get younger.
The goal now is to remain competitive until they clear serious cap space in 2016 to make some big moves. That’s a ways away, so we'll have to see if the Nets stick to this plan. It will be difficult to move the team's big salaries due to either age, health or contract. And health remains a major concern with their two biggest pieces, Williams and Lopez.
Outlook: The Nets experienced a lot of turbulence this offseason thanks to the Kidd departure. King moved swiftly to try to stabilize the situation by hiring Lionel Hollins. King also moved on from the Pierce trade after one season. Giving up three first-round picks in part to rent Pierce for only one season is costly. But King’s decision also means the Nets are admitting the trade didn’t work and they aren’t afraid to cut their losses, something that can be difficult.
The bottom line is the Nets are no closer to winning a title than they were last summer. They brought in some younger talent like Bojan Bogdanovic and second-round picks. The Nets very well could fall into NBA purgatory for the next couple of seasons -- good enough to make the playoffs, but not good enough to go deep in the postseason. You can never dismiss the possibility of King making a blockbuster trade. Garnett could interest some teams at the trading deadline, bringing back more assets for the future. Until then, the Nets will see how this new mixture of veterans and developmental players will mesh with Williams, Lopez and Johnson under the guidance of a new coach.