Posts Tagged ‘Dallas Morning News’

Nets Good On Paper And In The Flesh?

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.

Labor Talks: Tuesday Mourning Blues

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The calendar can be a cruel reminder sometimes.

This was supposed to be Opening Night around the NBA. The games were going to tip off and we’d dive back into the NBA season like we always do this time of year, enjoying the last few hours of the “offseason” before getting into the ritual that is the eight-month odyssey of the NBA season.

We’ve held off on the pity party around here the past few weeks, knowing full well that there was chance we’d wake up this morning to a lockout that apparently knows no end. Worst of all is the memories we have from a fantastic 2010-11 season and a splendid playoff run, one spent chronicling the every move of the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks. As my man Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News points out, ring night for the reigning champion will have to wait:

Seven diamonds. One for each road victory that the Mavericks had in their championship run — shaped in a heart to signify their singular resolve.

Four blue sapphires, representing the four close-out games that they won without ever losing a potential playoff series ender.

Something snappy written in gold. Like maybe, ‘Perseverance.’ Or, ‘Grit.’

Or maybe just: We Are The Champions.

These are the things that should be inscribed and mounted on the Mavericks’ championship rings, which they should be receiving tonight at American Airlines Center.

They won’t, of course. The NBA lockout has erased the first month of the season, which includes opening night. The Chicago Bulls were supposed to be in town and the first leg on the Mavericks’ championship victory lap would have been great for the team and even better for the fans.

Reliving that magical run will have to wait until December or January or later.

It is painful to realize this day, and the 29 that will follow, will not include a single dribble of an NBA basketball in a game that matters. Yeah, I know there are exhibitions planned and the faces that are so familiar to so many will pop up here and there. But it’s not the same. You know it and I know it.

Instead of games, we’re left with more of the lockout soap opera to chew on while we wait for the sides to go back to the negotiating table. Union president Derek Fisher is busy fighting those questioning his loyalty to his constituency. Heat owner Micky Arison is busy digging into his wallet to pay fines for a Twitter habit gone wrong.

Surely, both men would rather be doing something else, namely celebrating the start of yet another championship chase by two teams (Fisher’s Lakers and Arison’s Heat) that would have been considered top contenders heading into the 2011-12 season, along with the aforementioned defending champs — and a few other teams, too.

Instead, all we are left with is these lasting images of the past few weeks (see video below). Hollow promises, edicts and deadlines have been thrown in every direction.

Bottom line: We’ll sit down for Thanksgiving dinner and have to go cold turkey on the basketball trimmings we’re used to, since the entire month was sacked by the labor impasse.

But if we get to Christmas without a season … let’s not even go there!

Dirk: ‘Could Be Worse’

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The scheduling powers that be didn’t do the Mavericks any favors with a late-game slate that saw them play six games in 10 days, while fighting with the Los Angeles Lakers for playoff positioning in the Western Conference.

A 3-3 mark during that stretch, including three straight losses, prompted these words of wisdom from Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, “It could be worse. It could be in the playoffs.”

Those aren’t exactly the sort of inspiring words you’re looking for at this stage of the season from the catalyst of a contender. But reality hit the Mavericks square in the face the past six games, including last night’s loss to Portland (above) without Tyson Chandler.

More from our main man Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:

“We got to get back to doing what we do on both ends of the floor,” said Jason Terry. “Obviously, we didn’t have Tyson out there. He’s a big part of what we do. And we’re not very good without him.

“You don’t have Tyson Chandler, so your defense is going to take a hit. He’s a big part of our success.”