Rivalry Check is an ongoing series in which we preview 10 of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Harris DeckerNew Faces: The Brooklyn Nets spent the entire off-season shaking up the Eastern Conference. In a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics, Billy King acquired two future Hall of Famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and journeyman guard Jason Terry. The trade is a move that screams the “win now” mentality, as the teams average age creeps higher and higher. Another new face is actually one of Nets legend. Jason Kidd becoming the coach for the new look Nets is as interesting a move as any. With no coaching experience, he was a floor general as a player so it will be interesting to see what type of immediate impact he has.
Departures: The flip side to the trade with the Celtics are the players now wearing green and white. The trade kept the core of the team intact, with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez all staying in Brooklyn. Just about everyone outside of those three has since departed for Boston. MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans are no longer Brooklyn Nets, creating a void on the teams bench.
Season Outlook: Given the obvious age of this team, this is a crucial year for Billy King and the Brooklyn Nets. With Kidd installed, there is a huge opportunity for Deron Williams to learn from the future Hall of Famer. The importance of this relationship can not be stressed enough. Williams will be responsible for distributing the ball to four accomplished scorers. The Nets mortgaging of their bench had an adverse affect on their starting lineup, which is now the best in the East. No team can start a game with five players on the same planet as the Nets. Still, the depth off the bench is gone so it will be crucial for Kidd to work his magic if this team is to make a run.
Biggest Challenge for the Knicks: Avoiding the shouting match will be key to the Knicks success against the Nets this year. These teams are on a crash course to become one of the NBA’s best rivalries, but in order for the Knicks to stay competitive, guys like Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and JR Smith have to keep their cool. We all saw what happened to Smith after his altercation with Terry in the playoffs last year. A full year of jabbing at each other could be a double edged sword. It will fire up some but the veterans have to make sure not to let the emotion get the best of them.