Nets Wrap Season, Focused Firmly on the Future
The morning after Brooklyn’s inaugural season had ended, the Nets showed up at the PNY Center on Sunday to clean out their lockers.
Reggie Evans was ready for more.
“Even though I normally relax for a minute, I’m pumped because I didn’t want to exit the way we did last night,” Evans said. “You feel that first coming back in: ‘I’m going to work hard this summer.’”
Evans, who pulled down a team-high 11.1 rebounds -- just off his career-high 11.5 -- will join his teammates in doing so under a new coach next season. General Manager Billy King, having recently signed a contract extension, informed P.J. Carlesimo this morning that the Nets would be heading in a different direction.
Moving forward, King plans to implement a top-to-bottom organizational approach that unifies the on-court play, practice, training and nutrition plans, and even utilization of the team’s D-League affiliate Springfield Armor. The new coach will be involved in the developmental process, and that search will commence immediately.
“We’re going to look everywhere: head coaches, assistant coaches, overseas,” King said. “We’re not looking for high-profile -- we’re looking for the right guy.”
That coach will manage a roster featuring a core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez. Point guard Williams bounced back from an injury-riddled first-half, posting 22.9 points and 8.0 assists in 28 games after the All-Star break, shooting .420 from three-point range and .489 overall.
The linchpin signing of King’s roster makeover this offseason, Williams re-upped to join the Brooklyn transition after 1 ½ seasons in New Jersey following his surprise acquisition in February 2011. The Nets opened this season 11-4, struggled in December, and recovered to win 49 games and finish fourth in the Eastern Conference, securing homecourt advantage in the First Round of the NBA playoffs.
“We got better as the season went on,” Williams said, “Myself, personally, because of injuries; once I got healthy, people saw a little bit of what I could do. So I look forward to building on that. As a team I think we can still play a lot better: inconsistency has been what we’ve been plagued with. If we can be consistent, I think that puts us up there with anybody. When we play like we can when we’re at the top of our game for any consistent amount of time, we can be tough to beat.”
Lopez earned his first All-Star appearance this season, finishing as the team’s leading scorer (19.4 PPG) while also blocking a career-best 2.1 shots per game. Having gotten his first taste of the postseason since being drafted by the Nets in 2008, Lopez is eager to return and advance further in the coming season.
Small forward Wallace admittedly struggled while adjusting to the revamped roster, but finished the season strong, posting 19 points, 2 assists and 5 rebounds in Game Seven. Johnson provided clutch play throughout the year while knocking down four game-winning shots, but battled through plantar fasciitis during the playoffs, which limited his effectiveness against Chicago. The veteran guard has made six consecutive trips to the postseason and believes the Nets are capable of building on their initial campaign.
“I think the chemistry for us learning one another this year was pretty good,” Johnson said. “And I think next year us having that cohesiveness and going through the trenches and ups and downs this year will definitely help us going into the second year. I think everybody kind of knows what to expect and knows their role. It’ll make it easier. Coming into next year, we’ve got a vision of what we have and what we can do.”