Let’s be perfectly clear right off the bat: This has been a disastrous season for the Brooklyn Nets. A fired coach, a GM who stepped down, the third or fourth worst record in the league and way, way too many plays like this one.
There are virtually no positives to take away from this season and there’s a very good chance it get worse even after the season ends on Wednesday. If the Boston Celtics find playoff success (making the Eastern Conference Finals is a realistic possibility) it will only compound the Nets’ suffering when they are forced to surrender a top five pick to a championship contender.
Despite their lack of a draft pick, this will be the Nets’ most important offseason since moving to Brooklyn. The team will only get out of the massive hole it dug itself into by starting with a solid foundation now.
First and foremost that work should start with hiring the right coach. Luke Walton should be atop the team’s wish list, but he will have his pick of jobs and few would begrudge him wanting a better situation. The same holds true for Tom Thibodeau and Mark Jackson.
Ettore Messina may emerge as the favorite thanks to his ties to new GM Sean Marks. Such a move would be hard to fault, but it’d be fun to see the Nets give Becky Hammon her first shot. Sure, it was just summer league, but she led the Spurs to a championship and showed an ability to make players buy in and work hard. She knows how to win and create a culture- something the Nets desperately need. Plus, she could follow Jason Collins and continue the Nets’ tradition of helping break barriers.
Whomever the Nets decide to hire, they need to think hard about a long-term plan. Without assets, young talent, or draft picks it will be very difficult for the Nets to compete in the immediate future. They don’t need a coach who will win now. They need a coach who will develop a system and players to win down the line.
That thinking-how to create the best future- should dominate the Nets’ minds this offseason. They don’t control their own first round pick until 2019 and shouldn’t consider themselves title contenders until then. They must consider every path available to get younger and hoard assets. If anyone wants to offer a first round pick for Brook Lopez or Thaddeus Young, the Nets should take it. They should call the Pelicans about Omer Asik and make them attach an asset in exchange for taking on a bad contract. Same with Rudy Gay in Sacramento and Corey Brewer in Houston.
Yes, the Nets threw this season away. Now they need to make sure it’ll be a long time before they do that again.