HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Pin the rosters of every team in the Eastern Conference to a wall and arrange them in order, based strictly on the star-power names you see, and the Brooklyn Nets rank among the elite.
That’s the way the Nets’ master plan was designed, for the team to make the transition from New Jersey to Brooklyn with a group that could compete with the likes of the Heat, Celtics, Pacers and other East top-tier members.
As we get closer to the start of training camp, no one is more anxious to see these new-look Nets in action together than the man whose job it is to bring it all together. That’s why coach Avery Johnson‘s impressions of his crew are worth noting right now. During a trip to his old stomping grounds in Dallas, an appearance connected with “Just Say Yes,’’ an organization dedicated to empowering students, parents and educators, Johnson explained to reporters exactly what the Nets had going on the past couple of years.
The extreme franchise makeover started with retaining the services of All-Star point guard Deron Williams, Johnson told Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, a move that had to happen:
“We’ve been planning this for two years,’’ he said. “We’ve always had our eyes on Brooklyn. We pretty much played the last two years all road games because we didn’t have any type of home court advantage because we were in a temporary building. Now to be at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn with sellouts every night, and our roster has been significantly upgraded, it’s exciting.’’
In addition to keeping Williams, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace, the Nets also traded for Atlanta’s Joe Johnson in July.
“Deron was a big key to the whole puzzle,’’ Johnson said. “To be able to acquire some other talent through free agency or trades or re-signing some of our own guys, it’s pretty exciting for us. We’re not there yet. We’re not a championship team. We got a lot of work to do. But at the same time, we have a much better talent pool than we’ve had the last two years.
“We’re much more versatile than we’ve ever been. Right now, we look good on paper. Now we got to take it from looking good on paper and apply the work to go (forward).’’
Avery Johnson’s perspective on his team is sobering in this day and age of overnight contenders and super teams. There doesn’t seem to be a hint of overconfidence in his words, an uncommon-but-wise thing with such a risky, high-dollar play.
The Nets should be a contender in the East on the basis of that All-Star backcourt of Williams and Joe Johnson alone. Having a solid first five should put them in the picture with the Celtics and Pacers just behind the Heat in the pecking order.
But again, that’s all on paper. Seeing the Nets operate in the flesh, though, is the only way we’ll get concrete answers to any of the lingering questions about this team.