If you’re the type of person who just skips to the end of these looking for that graphic I ganked from Mythbusters, let me spare you some scrolling:
What everyone will say when Kyrie kills the clubhouse vibe and Durant isn’t the same after he comes back.
— Fox #PreviewsAreBack Doucette 🏀🍳🥓🥞 (@RealFoxD) September 12, 2019
Yeah, I’ve got jokes, alright.
But the bigger question does remain, what on earth do the Brooklyn Nets think they’re going to gain from a prima donna point guard who’s never won anything without LeBron James and a guy who is coming back from an injury that has killed the career of everyone his age and older in NBA history to sustain it?
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are going to murder the Brooklyn Nets and cast them into a dark age not seen since Danny Ainge showed up and Trojan Horsed them with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. At least they get to keep their draft picks this time.
But we’re not here to (just) talk about that. We’re here to ask whether the Nets will beat their Vegas over/under. To that end…
2018-19 Record: 42-40
2019-20 Over/Under: 47
Well, The Contracts Aren’t OH GODS IS THAT DERON WILLIAMS?
Looking at the Nets’ cap sheet, you see Kevin Durant making $37.2 million. Dumb, considering Durant’s career is over, but if you’re going to gamble, you might as well push your chips to the middle of the table, point at the Wizards and Thunder, and say “any bad contract you can do, we can do better, move over John Wall and Chris Paul, our guy’s more washed than you.”
(I’m going to eat those words if Durant defies history, but I stand by them.)
Then you see Kyrie Irving making $31.7 million and the only thing better than a clubhouse cancer who’s never won anything in his life without LeBron and whose Celtics were better in the year he and Gordon Hayward were both injured for the playoffs than the year those two were healthy is one of those when grotesquely overpaid.
And then you see…a surprisingly good cap sheet. Spencer Dinwiddie, $10.6 million, the only other eight-figure salary on the team. DeAndre Jordan, $9.9 million, a fantastic value for his specific set of at-the-rim, rebounding-heavy skills. Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert still on their rookie deals.
It’s beautiful and then…oh, what unholy waste of money is this, it’s…
…Deron Williams. Who hasn’t played since 2017 and last made an All-Star team in 2012, making $5,474,787 of genuine United States legal tender currency to Bobby Bonilla his way through the first three years of his retirement as this is the last year of the stretch provision.
OK, fine, Sean Marks had to do something to paper over the abject idiocy of his predecessor Billy King, one of the worst front-office leaders in NBA history, a guy who belongs on Mount Suckmore with Chris Wallace, David Kahn, and Ernie Grunfeld.
The Nets had such a beautiful cap sheet. Even with two hilariously overpaid guys. Irving hasn’t played more than 75 games in his career and has missed at least 15 games due to injury in five of his eight seasons. Durant might not play at all in 2019-20. It doesn’t matter, because Irving is still an upgrade on D’Angelo Russell (gone to the Golden State Warriors) and the young core that got 42 wins and the 6 seed in the East last year has another year of experience and chemistry built up…to the extent Irving won’t smash that chemistry with his petulant whining in the New York media the way he submarined the Celtics last year.
Will the Nets be at least five wins better than last year?
I love the young core. On paper, even without Durant, this is a team that looks set to make another leap after going 29-53 in 2017-18 and 42-40 last year.
But the Celtics grotesquely underachieved last year, the general consensus is that their petulant point guard, who has made an entire without-LeBron career out of underachieving and griping in the media, was the reason why, and that’s enough to make me highly skeptical that a team so light on payroll that a guy who isn’t even in the league anymore is the fourth-highest-paid non-Irving non-Durant player on the team is going to continue that positive momentum. Nets gonna Net.
Are the Nets good? It’s Plausible. But I’m predicting a disappointing season that ends 44-38 and makes an easy first-round out in the playoffs as the 6 or 7 seed, doomed to get smoked by Philadelphia or Milwaukee or possibly (more on them next Tuesday, stay tuned) Toronto.
As such I’m taking the under.