The Brooklyn Nets have several key questions that must be answered this offseason following a disappointing Round 1 playoff exit.
When Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the Nets in 2010, he said he believed the team would make the playoffs in 2011-12 and win a championship within five years.
The Nets finally made the playoffs this season, albeit a year late, and will have to make big moves this offseason to fulfill Prokhorov’s championship aspirations within the next two years.
The first and most important order of business for Prokhorov and general manager Billy King will be finding a new head coach.
The day after the Nets were dispatched from the postseason by the Chicago Bulls, the team announced it would not be offering an extension to interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Carlesimo led Brooklyn to a 35-19 record after Avery Johnson was fired, but he was never in the franchise’s long-term plans.
The search for a new head coach began as soon as the Nets parted ways with Carlesimo. Among the names being floated around as potential candidates are Jerry Sloan, Lionel Hollins, Doc Rivers, Jeff Van Gundy, Larry Brown and Brian Shaw.
Billy King said he isn't necessarily looking for a big-name coach, but many of the names on the list fit that description. Deron Williams has already expressed his desire for a veteran coach who is tough and demands the absolute best from his players.
King is looking for the same thing.
In addition to finding a new coach, Brooklyn must also find a way to upgrade its roster in the offseason.
An $83 million payroll didn’t get the job done in 2012-13, and the Nets are well over the salary cap, so finding a player to take them to the next level will be difficult.
King has expressed interest in Croatian sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic. Bagdanovic, who currently plays for Fenerbahce in Turkey, has nice size (6’8”) and could help the Brooklyn offense stretch the floor.
The Nets are no strangers to scouting and acquiring foreign prospects, after signing Mirza Teletovic and Tornike Shengelia last year.
There also remains the possibility of finding an immediate-impact player in the draft. The Nets have the No. 22 pick and there’s no reason to believe they won’t find a quality player at that spot.
Just ask the Golden State Warriors, who acquired Draymond Green at No. 35 in 2012. Experienced players from big-time collegiate programs aren’t the sexiest picks, but they also come with less risk. C.J. Leslie of North Carolina State and Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State are two guys that could be around when the Nets are on the clock.
The Nets also have to find a way to ditch Kris Humphries, who had a dreadful 2012-13 season in Brooklyn. His expiring $12 million contract could prove to be a big asset either during the offseason or prior to next year’s trade deadline.
The final question is whether the Nets, given their current financial situation, will find a way to re-sign Andray Blatche and C.J. Watson at a reasonable price.
Blatche was a pleasant surprise for the Nets this season, but he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent. The 26-year-old has expressed his desire to stay in Brooklyn, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll stick around for a veteran’s minimum contract.
The same can be said for Watson, who is also set to become a free agent, and could choose to seek more money elsewhere.
Billy King was able to secure his own future in Brooklyn after being rewarded with a multi-year contract extension.
King knows what changes the Nets need to make, but it won’t be easy. He must find the right head coach, get creative in making upgrades to the roster and re-sign key bench contributors to turn Brooklyn into a legitimate title contender.
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