Last Thursday, Brooklyn was the center of the basketball world. The NBA Finals concluded a week earlier and now hoop fans turned their attention toward the 2013 NBA Draft, which was held at Barclays Center. Without a clear cut pick worthy of the number one status, many felt that this was going to be a ho-hum event. It turned out to be anything but that. As a matter of fact, it turned out to be one of the more intriguing evenings in League history. And it wasn’t because of any of the young men that were brought into the fold.
No, the host Brooklyn Nets stole the show. General Manager Billy King pulled off a trade that brought Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for a bunch of role players and numerous unconditional first round draft picks. Not to be out done, New York Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald pulled the trigger on a deal that will bring former first overall pick Andrea Bargnani to New York.
These are nice moves for both local teams, however, will they put them on par with the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers? I say no. What says you?
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov has made it unequivocally clear that he wants to win and win now since he purchased the team two years ago. This move drives home that point. The Nets hierarchy basically mortgaged their distant future for a deal that will give them a year or two window at best.
More than the talent that this trio will bring to the Borough of Kings, I love the attitude that will be in that locker room next season. Some of the current Nets had a tendency to disappear come clutch time. There are few players more dangerous than Pierce come the final seconds of a game. Garnett and Terry are no slouches either when it comes to hitting big shots. Garnett also improves the Nets’ defense expeditiously. I doubt that you will see many lapses on that end of the court with KG roaming the paint.
One of my concerns is how much these guys have left in the tank. It seems as if they all have been in this League forever. King brought them in here for the post season but you have to get through the regular season first. As we saw during this past season, key players were dropping like flies prior to or during the playoffs. First year head coach Jason Kidd is going to have to learn on the fly on how to manage the minutes of these aging veterans during the course of the season so that they can be fresh for the post season. Perhaps he can call on Doc Rivers or Gregg Popovich to get some pointers on the matter. Since they are both in the Western Conference, they might be willing to share some wisdom on the subject.
On the other side of town, Grunwald did not sit pat and watch his Brooklyn counterparts improve his team without making a move of his own. By bringing in Bargnani for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, a 2016 first round pick and a pair of second round picks, the Knicks obtained a reliable scorer to go along with Carmelo Anthony. Now the former Toronto Raptor is a defensive liability but that is something that Head Coach Mike Woodson must address during the course of the season.
With the addition of first round pick Tim Hardaway, Jr., the Knicks offense should improve and be more consistent, so we hope. If they can shore up their defense, the Knicks should be able to keep pace or improve on their last campaign.
Both the Knicks and Nets will be better than last year, but will these moves get them in the NBA Finals? I’m sad to say no in my humble opinion. The Heat and Pacers are the cream of the Eastern Conference and the Bulls will be nothing to sneeze at either. Grunwald has a longer leash but this maybe King’s last call at the bar. We know that Prokhorov has a short fuse and he will not be happy with a first or second round exit in next year’s playoffs especially after he cuts that $59 million check for going over the luxury tax.
Both the Knicks and Nets are in a win-now mode. However, these moves might improve their rosters, but not their position in the Eastern Conference.