You know, it's a good thing we don't have a Nets blogger at SB Nation (Interested? Email here or here) because I'd probably punch him in the face. It's just not fair. Somehow, the Nets have stumbled into the most perfect situation in the entire league. Let's examine what's happened over the past three months:
They traded that scourge, Vince Carter: Now, when I call Vince Carter a "scourge", I mean it in the best way possible. Like, he's not actually killing off the people around him. But that's pretty much the nicest thing I can say about his game at this point in his career. He doesn't attack the rim, his perimeter game detracts from the offense, and his sulking demeanor just has to infect the players around him. Not the type of player you want to go to war with, to put it mildly.
- Who'd they get back? Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston. True, giving up Ryan Anderson to Orlando hurts, as he was sneakily promising, but I suppose it was a fair concession considering they were getting a partial refund for the Vince Carter Experience. And Courtney Lee is good. We're still not sure if the Orlando Magic realized what, exactly, they had in Lee. But between his perimeter defensive abilities, his ability to handle the ball/attack the rim, and his deft shooting, we're talking about a fairly intriguing 2nd-year player. Not someone that's going to make or break a team's fortunes, but a very solid building block.
- They drafted Terrence Williams. I guess it's too early to give a standing ovation for any of the '09 draft picks, but of all the first round additions, Terrence Williams is one of the three or four players most likely to help a team. There weren't many (any?) franchise players up for grabs after Blake Griffin went first in this year's draft, but like Courtney Lee, T-Will is a seriously intriguing building block. He averaged nearly 9 rebounds a game as a small forward for Louisville, he's got range out to the three point line, and he's displayed above average passing ability. Again, not someone that can carry a team, but next to a few stars, someone that makes a big difference.
- Mikhail Prokhorov Bought the Team. This is about eight different kinds of awesome. First off, Nets fans get the entertainment value of the NBA's Roman Ambramovich. The Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" joke is getting played out, but Prokhorov really does have a legitimate claim to the title. He first made a fortune making acid-wash jeans, he's 6'9 but has never played basketball, he's an avid kick-boxer, and he's the world's preeminent nickel magnate. Uh... What? He's also infamous for hard-partying and has underworld ties that once inspired the following sentence: "When the cops ascertained that none of the women were actually professional call girls or prostitutes, they released everyone without filing charges."
Mikhail Prokhorov Bought the Team. Also, Prokhorov's involvement means the franchise has been infused with hundreds of millions of hard-won nickel profits--overnight, they've gone from hemmorhaging money under Bruce Ratner, an owner frantically trying to offload a failed investment, to still losing money, but this time for a billionaire owner that asks, "what is zeese 'profits' and 'balance sheets' you speak of? Can I buy zem?" Yeah, I'd say that's a good transition.
- Mikhail Prokhorov Bought the Team. Did you hear? A Russian billionaire bought the Nets and is going to move them to a state-of-the-art arena in Brooklyn! Crazy, right!?
To say nothing of the Jason Kidd-Devin Harris trade, it's fair to say we're talking about a franchise that's been charmed for the past few years. And suddenly, the red-headed step-child of the New York basketball scene has one of the best foundations in the league (Harris, Lee, Williams, Brook Lopez, $25 million in cap space this summer), its wealthiest owner, and is about to move into the fastest growing borough in New York City, with a brand new stadium. Yeah, I'd say it's a pretty good time to be on the Nets bandwagon.
Sure, they'll probably struggle this year, but if they add a superstar next summer, suddenly role players like Lee, Lopez, and Terrence Williams become a whole lot more a valuable and the Nets are probably the most talented team in the East. Do you think Lebron James is reading this?