As for the Brooklyn Nets? Well, they’re just fine with it.
“It’s good. I think that’s good,” Deron Williams said Monday when asked if lower expectations are motivating him and his teammates.
“We’re flying under the radar. We’ve got a lot of work to do. When you get between the lines, anything can happen. So it’s our job to get better, gel as a team over training camp an the first month and be ready to go in November.”
Brooklyn’s summer was not supposed to be very hectic. A few tweaks here and there. That was supposed to be it.
But then Jason Kidd left for Milwaukee, and all of sudden, the Nets needed a new head coach. Quickly, they got one in Lionel Hollins.
The Nets, who were in win-now mode last season, have gotten younger, but their core remains intact.
How far they will go in 2014-15 largely depends on how Williams' surgically-repaired ankles and Brook Lopez's surgically-repaired foot hold up.
“We’ve got to step up, myself included, especially leadership-wise,” Williams said. “I think having myself healthy and having Brook healthy, that makes up for a lot. I think that’s what people don’t really understand. Let’s talk about Brook. Missing Brook, that’s 20 points a night and a big man who can score on anybody in this league. Right there changes the landscape of things, just putting him back in the lineup.”
That lineup also will include Kevin Garnett, who is returning for his 20th, and perhaps final, season in the NBA. Hollins said Garnett will start at power forward and receive more than 15 minutes of playing time a night -- assuming he’s healthy.
“Health is the No. 1 issue for this team going in with Brook, KG and Deron,” Hollins said. “If they are healthy and we can create continuity and a foundation of a group playing together, then I think things will fall into place.”
Training camp begins Sept. 27 in East Rutherford, N.J.
“I think [not having the attention] is very good,” Andrei Kirilenko said. “I think last year we had too much pressure from the outside. I think this year we have the chance to step back before the season and then make that jump.”