Brooklyn Nets Exit Interviews: Three Takeaways
The Nets players believe there's plenty to build on from the 2017-18 campaign and look forward to next season
BROOKLYN – With the Nets playing their final game on Wednesday, several players participated in the final media session of the season. BrooklynNets.com takes a look at the biggest storylines to emerge out of exit interview day.
Joe Harris Wants to Stay in Brooklyn
Harris made significant progress this season and enters the summer as a key free agent for the Nets. The 26-year-old is appreciative of the work done by Brooklyn’s coaching staff to turn him into a well-rounded player and he’s made it clear that he’d like to sign a long-term deal with the team.
“Yeah, I have been in talks here, especially recently a lot with my agent and I have reiterated that I would like to be here and I told that to Kenny and Sean,” Harris said before later adding. “But my hope and I know what I have kind of expressed to everyone is that I have enjoyed being here, I enjoy being in Brooklyn and I like being a part of this organization.
“I think they’re about the right stuff and I don’t really envision myself being anywhere else.”
Harris mentioned that comfort level is important and after struggling to find a fit in the NBA with his first team, the Cavaliers, he wants to make sure he can be in a place that would ensure that he would have active role. The swingman averaged career highs across the board and hit an stunning 41.9 percent of his attempts from downtown this season.
D’Angelo Russell Aims to Progress
Russell came to Brooklyn in a blockbuster trade from the Lakers and showed glimpses of why he can be a star in the NBA. After playing with five different coaches over the past five years, Russell acknowledges he is excited that he’ll have a stable situation by continuing to work with Kenny Atkinson.
“That’s pretty cool honestly,” Russell said. “Not the fact of having that many coaches but as far as knowing that there’s some type of security. There will be repetitive guidance from a coach that you know you’re going to be around. I think it’s great.”
The challenge for the 22-year-old will be gaining consistency. There were games where Russell would be absolutely brilliant on the court and then follow it up with a game where he decision making was questionable. DeMarre Carroll, the veteran voice of the Nets’ locker room, hopes that he’ll be able to work out with Russell in the offseason and help the guard reach his potential.
“His talent – nobody in this room or arena will question his talent,” Carroll said. “You just want him to do it consistently. D’Angelo is probably the closest thing we have to an All-Star on our team if he did it consistently. Me, being his big brother, being a leader, I just challenge him to come in and hit it hard every day.”
Russell closed out his first season in Brooklyn by averaging 15.5 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 41.4 percent.
Taking the Next Step
When looking at the Nets season, there is the feeling that this team could have picked up more wins with better luck. The team dealt with significant injuries all season as Jeremy Lin had a season-ending injury on opening night and saw Russell miss 32 games due to knee surgery.
But more importantly, there was an acknowledgement that the young Nets can continue to improve to help in securing more wins. Defense appeared to be the biggest focus.
“Defensively, we have to get nastier,” Lin said. “We just have to be better on defense. We have to want it more. We have to rebound better, which is a big part of defense.”
Fourth quarter offensive execution was another area that players highlighted.
“Every time we talked to a team they said we compete, we’re a hard team to play because we move the ball. But now we got to close the game,” Carroll said. “We can’t get into isolation at the end of the game, we got to keep moving the ball, playing team-oriented ball. We got to close games. If we can do that, this thing can really take off.”