The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Lakers 106, Nets 87: How Low Can It Sink? Sky’s The Limit

I believe Michael Ray Richardson was a Knick when he provided our titular quote, but he was a Net too for a while and it’s the Jersey side of the local equation to which his wisdom best applies these days. This loss sucked of course; as an individual game it was the ordinary sort of suck, given importance beyond that only by virtue of being 17th in a line of such games and thus a record-equaling performance in its badness, if not quite unique. In its specifics it stands out only as being the sort of loss which happens to teams which have given up: despite the firing of their long-time coach earlier in the day the Nets came out flat and scored a grand total of 12 points in the first quarter- which ended with them down by 15- and never made a game of it thereafter. The deficit was 30 and change at various points; Adam Morrison, one of the worst players in the league, was on court for the Lakers by the third quarter and the game was more or less a garbage-time joke before halftime. As a contest there’s not much more to say about it on its own.

All I can add is this: Frank had to go, but replacing him with Kiki or a no-name is a major, major risk. With perhaps a few honorable exceptions this Nets team has given up; they have the talent to win, say, 20 games this season, but they do not have the talent to get away with half-assing even one game if they expect to reach even that modest goal. Put another way, if the Nets bring in the coaching equivalent of a substitute teacher who runs the same dysfunctional offense and never builds the rapport with the players to get them to give a real effort, we could be looking at a 15 wins or fewer outfit. This is now, officially, not just a bad team but a historically bad team; and unlike most bad teams where you can pretty much guess the range their final record will fall in, it’s very difficult to determine what the floor is for the 2009-2010 NJ Nets. Having seen the early 90’s Mavericks which I contend were the worst teams to come after the 72-73 Sixers, I can’t say this Nets team is worse; I also can’t definitively say they’re better. If anything they’ve deteriorated as the season has gone along, and the longer this streak continues the more of the season it’s going to chew up with low confidence, sloppy play, bad habits, apathy and other issues which make it hard for the Nets to even give a reasonable effort. This team is looking into the abyss right now, and the longer they gaze the harder it’s going to be to back away from it.

EDIT: Side note on Lawrence Frank-

I’ve never been a fan as a coach at the NBA level, yet it’s unquestionable that the man always gave his best effort and conducted himself with dignity and respect for the team, his players and the game. I wish him well. I fully expect that he’ll be an outstanding college coach at some point. He’s usually been excellent at getting players to play well at the fundamental level, to pay attention to detail, to give forth a solid professional effort. Where he lacks is the tendency of his teams to run atrociously bad offenses in the half court; you get the sense that Frank runs very conventional schemes a lot of the time and doesn’t take advantages of mismatches, the opportunities afforded by extraordinary athleticism, the ins and outs of NBA officiating, or his own players’ idiosyncrasies. Everything is very standard, cookie-cutter, basic; the sort of things which, correctly executed, are winning plays in college but at the pro level are overwhelmed by the speed of the game and the greater skill and experience of the players. This does not make him a bad coach, per se; but it does seem to make him one not ideally suited to the situation in which he’s found himself in recent years. This was the best time to part ways for both parties, I think.

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November 30, 2009 - Posted by | The Nets |

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