Comparisons between Jason Kidd's arrival with the Nets franchise and Kyrie Irving landing with Brooklyn are aplenty, but don't tell T.J. Kidd, son of the former Nets great that. Speaking with Nets Insider, T.J. Kidd weighed in on what intangibles Irving will bring both on and off the court at Barclays Center and how his circumstances are much different than his father's when the Nets made a blockbuster trade to acquire him back in 2001.

"Kyrie Irving is a top tier point guard in the league as my dad was when he came from the Suns," said the son of the first ballot Hall of Famer. "Both had all-star seasons before joining the Nets. When my dad came it was via trade. Kyrie joined via free agency after playing for the Celtics last season. So I wouldn’t compare their arrivals. Two incredibly talented basketball players for their times. Kyrie doesn’t have to come in and be the next Jason Kidd for the Nets. He’s won a championship already with the Cavs. He’s a championship caliber player. He just has to come in and be the same Kyrie Irving he’s always been. I think he’s going to be great for the Nets. When my dad came the year before they won 26 games. Kyrie is coming to a team fresh off a playoff appearance. I wish Kyrie the same and even more success my dad has and I look forward to seeing him in a Nets uniform."

Prior to Kidd joining the Nets, the team was mired in medicority and destined yet again to be another lottery-bound squad. The man they called "The Captain" transformed the culture of the team, while bringing a winning attitude and much-needed change in leadership to the Meadowlands. As T.J. Kidd noted, the Nets won just 26 games prior to trading for Kidd, and in his first season with the team he doubled its win total and at the time completed the best single-season turnaround in NBA history.

On the contrary, the 2019 Brooklyn Nets won 42 games--good enough for the sixth seed in the East--and bowed out in five games to Philadelphia 76ers. Not only are the comparisons between Kidd and Irving off, this version of Nets basketball is far different from the one fans experienced in the early-2000s, according to T.J. Kidd.

"I was very young when the Nets acquired my dad," admitted T.J. Kidd. "I wouldn’t really compare the two off-seasons because I don’t like to compare two different eras of basketball. Also we haven’t seen this new Nets team play yet. Back then the pace of the game was more physical than it is today. The Nets of that time was a different team. That team was extremely lethal on the fast break. They played with a different type of physicality on the defensive side of the ball. My dad was a walking triple double. I wouldn’t necessarily say that they can dominate the east just yet. At full strength this new Nets team on paper I believe will be very tough to beat. I’m not sure if they’ll dominate the east like that team did. That’s for them to prove. I think we all are going to have to wait and see on what they can do. I think that this with this Nets team at full strength the sky is the limit."

T.J. Kidd is a lot more hopeful than some skeptics who believe that Irving is not cut-out for a leadership role in Brooklyn, while Kevin Durant's Achilles injury will likely sideline him for the entire 2019-2020 season and criticscontend that he won't be the same player he was before the injury when he returns to the court. From a leadership standpoint, Irving and Kidd aren't even in the same stratosphere, but the former Cav and Celtic has championship pedigree and can forged a heck of a dynamic duo alongside Durant when he returns healthy. Beyond just Durant and Irving, T.J. Kidd took special notice to the rest of the roster that helped carry the team to a playoff berth last year.

"I believe the Nets had a fantastic offseason," offered T.J. Kidd. "They went out and got two max superstar free agents in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. I love them signing Deandre Jordan as well. I think that having a big man that plays his style of game and he does it well. I think he’s going to be huge on how they develop Jared Allen going forward, who I believe is going to be a great big man in the league down the line, learning from a big man like Deandre Jordan will only benefit him. I like how deep they are as well. Joe Harris can shoot the lights out. I think Caris LeVert is going to have a great year and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do. I like their bench a lot. Solid role players that complement the guys I’ve already mentioned. The Nets are cooking up something special. I believe that their front office did a tremendous job at building a strong basketball culture and that’s why I believe they’ll have a lot of success going forward and that they had such great success this past offseason. At full strength I believe they’ll be a very tough team to beat. I’m excited to watch them next season and going forward. Nets fans have a lot to be excited about."

Former NBA Scout Bryan Oringher spent four years full-time traveling with the Washington Wizards as Head Video Coordinator and the 17-18 season conducting regional advanced scouting for the Raptors and Hawks. If there’s anyone who has a keen eye for talent and understands X’s and O’s as well as film breakdown, it’s Oringher.

 A University of Maryland graduate, Oringher spent his first two years at school working under head coach Gary Williams before joining the Wizards as an intern for his final two undergraduate years.

Nets Insider sat down with Oringher to discuss Kyrie Irving’s transition to the Nets culture as well as Kenny Atkinson’s system. The key for Irving’s success, according to Oringher, will be the former Celtics’ ability to check his ego at the door and make some simple adjustments to his game.

“Until KD is back, I think it’s very similar to what Boston had last year: Kyrie surrounded with a pretty good supporting cast,” said Oringher of Irving’s situation in Brooklyn. "They had Brad Stevens who’s regarded as one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the league. He’s a guy who’s not afraid to jump on guys at times and Kyrie didn’t appear to respond really well to that type of coaching.It seemed like they really weren’t on the same page for most of the season. I think Kyrie needs to be held accountable and he needs to allow himself to be held accountable. I think Kenny Atkinson has done a great job, but it’s kind of a whole different ball game when you have to coach a guy with a big ego, a proven star, who comes in there as a max guy. I hope he’s willing to take the coaching and accept that Kenny has to help him become a little more efficient, become like Harden a little more who shoots threes and drives to the rim; to simplify his game a little bit. Focus on playing defense and that end of the floor for sure. He’s a fiery coach at times and tries to be demanding with guys, but is Kyrie going to fully respect him and buy in and allow him to coach that way? It’s ultimately up to Kyrie.”

The Nets have had All-Star point guards over the years: Kenny Anderson, Jason Kidd, Devin Harris, and Deron Williams to name a few, but none have been an interesting mix of championship experience to go along with his fair share of baggage. Irving has yet to prove that he can “the guy” to command a huddle and lead his team. Things didn’t exactly pan out for him in Boston after he allegedly forced the Cavaliers hand to trade him prior to the start of the 2017-2018 campaign.

The track record isn’t pretty, but Irving is stepping into a solid culture with the Nets, his childhood team by the way, so if there was ever a place for it to work, it would be in Brooklyn. Again though, skeptics, including Orinhger, point to Irving’s lack of fire last year with the Celtics as an indication that history could repeat itself with the Nets.

“At least the public perception seems to be that you know Kyrie had a few issues last season with his competitiveness and leadership, and the intangible side of things,” noted Oringher. “You don’t really know for sure unless you’re on the inside, but I definitely have some question marks about his ability to lead and I think D-Lo seemed a pretty great job with that team last year and keeping everybody together and on the same page. You know it remains to be seen especially without KD for that first season, how good of a job Kyrie can do having his own team. It’s basically what he had in Boston and that team blew up around him. He’s an intriguing personality and it’s going to be interesting to see how it comes together.”

One interesting scouting comparison that Oringher drew was between former Net DeAngelo Russell and Irving. While Nets fans were split on the team’s decision to move Russell to sign Irving, the fact that Kevin Durant was part of a package deal, it put fans’ minds at ease. The former NBA Scout shared his thoughts on comparing Russell’s basketball talents to that or Irving’s, and found more resemblances than differences in their respective games.

“There are definitely some similarities between the players,” said Oringher. ‘”Both have a pretty unique skillset of being able to hit deep threes off the dribble on pick and rolls. There’s not a huge list of guys-the [Damian] Lillliard’s, the Steph’s [Curry] obviously—beyond that there’s not a ton of guys that can hit threes off the dribble.”

“D-Lo is a little bit of a better pick and roll passer and playmaker, Kyrie is a little better in terms of mid-range, being able to get his own shot, having a little post-up game, a little more creativity in that way. Defensively they're both kind of a mixed bag.”

Training camp is nearly upon us, and it will be fascinating to see whether Irving shows a willingness to learn and evolve in Atkinson’s system while mentoring others in Durant’s absence.

The Nets know a thing or two about acquiring a superstar point guard with somewhat of a checkered past. Back in June of 2001, the then-New Jersey organization sent floor general Stephon Marbury packing for Phoenix in exchange for All-Star Jason Kidd. A former Co-Rookie of the Year, alongside Grant Hill, Kidd was regarded as one of the top point guards of his generation.

In his first season in New Jersey he completed the greatest turnaround in league history as the Nets went from 26 wins before he came to town to 52-wins and a berth in the NBA finals. Kidd was arrested in January of 2001 for hitting his now ex-wife Joumana and the Suns subsequently shipped him out that offseason. The former Cal star brought leadership, toughness, but his share of baggage to the Garden State.

Flashforward 18-years, and while Kyrie Irving has no arrests or misdemeanors on his record, his leadership and team-first attitude have been challenged by critics that point to his selfishness as a reason the Celtics team came apart at the seams this past season.

One former Nets player who’s been following Brooklyn’s offseason closey is Kidd’s former backcourt running mate Kerry Kittles. The starting shooting guard on the Nets back-to-back NBA finals teams, Kittles suggested in an interview on CBS Sports Radio, that Irving will have a similar transition to what Kidd experienced in New Jersey, while Durant’s injury could even been a blessing in disguise for the former disgruntled Celtic.

“So there’s always unknowns, right --when you’re a player and going to a new organization,” admitted Kittles. “Even though you’re a superstar player, I can remember when the Nets brought in Jason Kidd, and he was already an All-Star and a well-established superstar in the NBA, but he came to a new organization with a bunch of new faces, and new coaches, and new system. It’s going to take some time for those guys. I think Kevin Durant sitting out most of this year, if not the entire season, will give Kyrie a chance to grow and to learn how to play the style of play that Coach Atkinson has and how to lead. I think will be his first real chance of leading and grow in that role.”

The Nets offseason makeover is indicative of the new-NBA with superstars pairing up to creating dynamic duos to take the league by storm. While many former players resent the power current players have over their free agency plans, Kittle was open-minded to the “Super-team Era” in the NBA.

“How can you stop it, right?,” asked Kittles. “You can’t stop guys from communicating. It’s going to happen. I’m ok with it now. I think a lot of old school purists would probably say: ‘no, just do your thing and put your head down'. ‘If it happens on its own organically then it’s probably fine'. “I’m okay with these guys now talking and creating their own path; I think it’s good for players now to be able to carve out where they want to go and who they want to play with and see if it works out. They’re not guaranteed it’s going to work out, even though they’re buddies, it’s not guaranteed to work out. It could be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years with guys partnering up with other guys and seeing if they can win together"

The Irving and Durant experiment in Brooklyn, the Paul George and Kawhi Leonard duo with the Clippers, the James Harden and Russell Westbrook pairing in Houston, and the Lebron James and Anthony Davis combo with the Lakers are all compelling super-teams fans will keep a close eye on. As Kittles suggests, the formation of the super teams doesn’t guarantee anything, but it’s hard to argue that the free agency period has never been more exciting than the one fans witnessed this year.

You can't call the Brooklyn Nets The Little Engine that Could anymore.

Signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has a way transforming a franchise that before the free agent frenzy was quietly minding its own business and ascending the rankings in the Eastern conference step by step.

A franchise that has had a nomadic existence to say the least.

From Teackneck New Jersey, to Commack, Long Island to West Hempstead, New York to Uniondale, New York to Piscataway, New Jersey to East Rutherford, New Jersey to Brooklyn, New York, the Nets are well traveled to say the least.

Teaneck Armory Teaneck, New Jersey 1967–1968
Long Island Arena Commack, New York 1968–1969
Island Garden West Hempstead, New York 1969–1972
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum Uniondale, New York 1972–1977
Rutgers Athletic Center Piscataway, New Jersey 1977–1981
Brendan Byrne Arena (1981–1996),
renamed Continental Airlines Arena (1996–2007),
renamed Izod Center (2007–2010) East Rutherford, New Jersey 1981–2010
Prudential Center Newark, New Jersey 2010–2012
Barclays Center2012-present

The Nets have played in ten different arenas in their 52-year existence and have always been the second act to their Manhattan counterparts playing at Madison Square Garden. Both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were heavily rumored to be interested in joining the Knicks only to ultimately sprurn James Dolan and the clown show at the "World's Most Famous Arena" and join the up and coming Brooklyn squad.

The Nets have always been an afterthought in their own city. Hardly talked about on the local radiowaves, television or online. Whether the Knicks are good, bad, or ugly, they're always frontpage material, while the Nets are most times not even backcover worthy. Even during the Jason Kidd era with the then-New Jersey Nets; making consecutive finals appearances, the franchise struggled to draw fans and sellout its home arena on the NBA's grandest stage.

Now, the Nets, not the Knicks, will be the hottest ticket in town with ticket prices and demand for season ticket packages expected to be at an all-time high at Barclays Center. According to Vegas Insider, the Nets are currently listed at 40/1 odds to win the NBA title and 12/1 to win the Eastern Conference. Not too shabby for a franchise that was simply hoping and praying to reach the 30-win plateau just two seasons ago.

Those title odds are based on the increasing likelihood that Kevin Durant won't return this season. While there's an outside chance that Durant could return for a playoff run, the Nets championsip window likely starts in 2020. General manager Sean Marks brilliantly assembled a roster that, at the very least, can be in the mix to come out of the East.

In the short-term, the Nets want the dynamic duo of Irving and Durant to deliver the Larry O'Brien trophy that has eluded them for over five decades. Bigger picture, the Netslanding two of the game's premier players changes the entire perception of the franchise from the outside looking in.

Brooklyn is now considered a free agent destination, which was never the case in the first few years at the Barclays Center and certainly during the 35 years in the Garden State. For once, the Nets are the bigger brother; they're Goliath with some big guns to deal some damage to the rest of the league. It's not a position the organization has often been in and it's not one that Nets fans are accustomed to dealing with. So while expectations will be riding high and the Brooklyn squad will have lofty goals for the first time in a long time, this offseason marks a changing of the organization's complexion and a complete revitalization of the Nets for years to come.


Nets Insider sat down with Dr. Steven Weinfeld, Chief of Foot and Ankle Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, to discuss Kevin Durant's Achilles injury. Dr. Weinfield indicated that while rehabbing his Achilles heel is paramount, the greater challenge for Durant comes in getting his calf muscle back to full strength. The question on every Nets fans' mind is when will the ten-time All-star be able to return to the court? The team hasn't ruled him out for the entire 2019-2020 campaign just yet, but the prospect of him playing this upcoming season is still improbable, according to Dr. Weinfeld.

"I think it's unlikely that he would play this season, but I'd be pleasantly surprised if he did come back," admitted Mount Sinai's Chief of Foot and Ankle Surgery. "Certainly things you want to be clear about as a surgeon allowing an athlete to come back to play high level sport is that obviously their repair is healed enough and that their stength is where it needs to be and that's what takes the longest in an Achilles injury. It's not so much the healing of the tendon, that usually takes somewhere between 4, 5, or 6 months, but the strength of the calf muscle doesn't usually come back for about a year and sometimes even longer. So that's what keeps the high performance athlete out as long as it does because you really have to be sure their strength is as good as it can be before you let them come back."

The Nets didn't hesitate to acquire Durant via a sign-and-trade with Golden State and agreed to a 4-year, $164 million deal with the superstar during free agency. Brooklyn signed the deal knowing there was a strong likelihood that Durant won't even see the court this upcoming season. Dr. J. Martin O'Malley of Hospital for Special Surgery performed the surgery on Durant's Achilles following the catastrophic setback in Game 5 of the NBA finals and he also serves as the Nets team doctor.

Durant's familiarity and comfort level with the Nets medical staff was a major determining factor in him ultimately signing a deal to come to Brooklyn. While most critics are scoffing at the thought of Durant seeing the hardwood this upcoming season, according to Weinfeld, Durant's chances are exceedingly better than that of injured Wizards star John Wall's.

"A point guard plays a different kind of game than Kevin Durant does," noted Dr. Weinfeld. "An explosive type athlete, his demand is different than that of Kevin Durant's. You talk about odds of coming back to where he was, I think Durant's odds are better than an athlete like John Wall whose whole game is quickness and explosiveness. He [Wall] counts much more on those muscles being exactly where they need to be as opposed to a player like Durant and his style.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has already stated that Wall 'probably won't play' next year at all as the team is taking a cautious approach with its floor general. On January 8, Wall underwent surgery to repair a Haglund's deformity and a chronic Achilles tendon injury. Unfortunately for the 28-year old, he developed an infection in the incision from that surgery and the team announced he would be out at least 12-months retroactive to February. The Wizards just inked Wall to a four-year, $170 million deal that is set to begin at the start of the 2019-2020 season. Given the setback that Wall has suffered, it's reasonable to think that Durant is on the fast track back on the court compared Washington's franchise player.

While many fans don't expect to see either Wall or Durant until the 2020-2021 season, Dr. Weinfeld is confident that Durant can return to the player fans saw lead the Warriors to two championships, three straight finals appearances, and dominate the NBA as a two-time Finals MVP and a two-time league MVP.

"I think he'll probably be somewhere between 90 and 100 percent," stated Dr. Weinfeld. "That's my thought assuming everything goes smoothly and he doesn't have any setbacks, I think you can expect somehwere in the 90 to 100 percent range."

For all the latest news on the Nets and Kevin Durant be sure to follow us on Twitter

25-year television voice of the Brooklyn Nets, Ian Eagle joins Bryan Fonseca and Dexter Henry for episode 90 of the Ain't Hard To Tell Podcast. Eagle details meeting Kyrie Irving -- then a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers -- while stuck on an Amtrak on a Sunday night, learning that Irving has been a huge Net fan his entire life.

Ian Eagle talks meeting Kyrie Irving while stuck on an Amtrak | Ain't Hard To Tell Podcast

The Nets second round draft pick via a trade with the Clippers, UCLA guard Jaylen Hands, gave a classy shoutout via Twitter on Monday night. In an age where marquee rookies are being held out of summer league games for fear of injury, Hands is thanking the organization that he'll be starting his pro career with for the opportunity to compete in Las Vegas.

This is a strict departure from the current mentality surrounding summer league games where executives and agents alike cringe at the thought of a potential star player suffering a catastrophic injury in an exhibition contest. Clearly Hands isn't concerned about potential injuries, but instead focusing on his own development as he tries to make the Nets 15-man roster. Ideally Hands would like to be one of the the active 13 players that suit up for Brooklyn, but it will be an uphill climb with guards Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Garrett Temple expected to be major contributors this upcoming season.

Hands has all the makings of a solid NBA player with a high IQ and above average shooting stroke, particularly from deep. The first-year pro has certainly endeared himself to the Nets coaching staff and front office with his remarks on his NBA Summer League experience.

While Hands somewhat underachived this summer averaging 11 minutes and 5.5 points per game while shooting 30.8% from the field and 11.1% from long range. Unfortunately for the young baller, he didn't exactly put his best foot forward during the summer months. Nonetheless, Sean Marks and his scouting department saw something special in the 20-year old floor general and he'll have the opportunity to learn from one of the NBA's best in Kyrie Irving during training camp and practices this season.

There's no shame in playing behind a three-time All-NBA Player, two-time rebounding champion, two-time All-Defensive team player, one-time All-Star and the NBA's all-time leader in field goal percentage at 67 percent.

But don't tell Jarrett Allen that.

The Nets youngster, at just 20, is on the rise and there's a growing concern in Brooklyn that he'll be buried behind DeAndre Jordan on the depth chart.

The reality is Allen is clearly a budding star in the making, but Jordan's ability to bang with the Joel Embiid's and Marc Gasol's and Al Horford's of the world make it doubly important for the Nets to station a viable defensive presence in the paint. Not that Allen isn't a talented defender in his own right as his 1.5 bpg average is among the league leaders.

As a rim protector, the former University of Texas standout stacks up to the league's best. Unfortunately, his lack of strength and the fact that his young frame hasn't filled out yet has worked against him, specifically last year in the playoffs against Embiid.

Allen was thrown around like a rag doll at times and was even dealt a crushing elbow from the Sixers outspoken center that later boiled over into Jared Dudley standing up for his fallen temmmate.

Sean Marks burst into the referees' locker room following the team's Game 4 loss to Philadelphia in which Brooklyn was at the receiving end of some overly physical play where the officials swallowed their whistles.

Backup center Ed Davis was injured early in the series and didn't return leaving Allen as the only viable center option to compete with the Sixers bigs. Things didn't go swimmingly for Allen, but it was a definite growing experience.

Now enter Jordan, who no man in the league can or would even try to push around. Whether Allen or Jordan should start is honestly a silly question. Kenny Atkinson always determines his lineups based on the strength of his opponents and the flow of the game, so Jordan's arrival in Brooklyn just brings more toughness and physicality to a Nets frontline that was lacking in both areas last season.

Davis was a terrific rebounder and hustle player for the Nets last season, but Jordan adds a different dynamic to the Nets defense. Perhaps Allen's minutes shrink from 36 per game to 28-30, but at 31-years old, Brooklyn isn't interested in tiring out Jordan, but instead keeping him fresh for a playoff push.

Expect Jordan to receive 15-20 minutes per game depending on the matchup and juncture in the season. Naming the starter is ceremonial at best, and both the Nets and the coaching staff understand Allen's upside and they won't do anything to hinder his development. Instead, Allen will learn from a terrific rebounder, defender, and hustle player in Jordan. 

How could a 46.6 percent free throw shooter not be a liability at the stripe? It's been a bugaboo of sorts that has followed DeAndre Jordan around for the better part of his 11-year career in the NBA.

However, something after ten seasons clicked. It was almost as if Jordan had exorcized the demons of the past and unlocked a shooting stroke that was previously undiscovered at the foul line.

2018 was a tumultous season for Jordan after he was spent nine seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers from 2008-2017 until the core of that team including: Chris Paul. and Blake Griffin were traded away to the Rockets and Pistons respectively.

Jordan was the last piece of the Clippers high-flying act left, but even he eventually signed a deal to join the Dallas Mavericks during the 2018 offseason. It was only three years before that Mavs owner Marc Cuban tried to whisk Jordan away from the Clippers during free agency only to see the star center agree to a deal to join Dallas then change his mind to ultimately stay with Los Angeles.

There clearly weren't any bitter feelings on either side as the two eventually came together during last offseason, but after 50-games in a Mavericks uniform, Jordan became a part of the trade that sent him to the Knicks and saw them ship out Kristaps Porzingis.

In just 19 games with the Knicks last season, Jordan flourished averaging 15.1 ppg, 15.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest. All eye-popping numbers from a recently turned 31-year old. Jordan is a close friend of Kevin Durant and once it was announced that the former Warrior and Kyrie Irving were headed to Brooklyn, Jordan wasn't far behind them.

While Jordan is one of the most feared shotblockers, rebounders and dunkers in the league, his Achilles heel has always been his free throw shooting.

Jordan, whose stroke looked shooter-esque while at the stripe, shot as low as 37.5 percent at the line. He often received the Hack-a-Shaq treatment in the fourth quarters of close contents and teams saw him as an offensive liability.

Last year, Jordan achieved a remarkable feat by shooting 70.5 percent at the charity stripe. Now to put that in perspective, the NBA player's average free throw percentage is 79 percent. So while the center is still below average, he's nearly double his percentage since the earlier part of his career, which is a remarkable achievement.

If the newly inked Nets center can continue on this upward trend he will continue to shed the label of liability on offense and find more minutes on the court. The NBA rule change regarding the Hack-A-Shaq went into effect during the 2016 campaign and extended the rule whereby a team cannot intentionally foul a player inside of two minutes of the fourth quarter to now where it applies to all four quarters.

If an intenional foul takes place inside of two minutes of any quarter, the team that is fouled shoots one free throw and retains possession of the ball. This rule change, coupled with Jordan's diligent efforts to raise his percentage will make him a much more impactful player and  an asset for the Nets this upcoming season.

Remember Mikhail Prokhorov's championship promise? When he took over as majority owner of the Nets back in 2010 he said he expected the team to make the playoffs the following season and win a Larry O'Brien trophy within five years at the most.

Below is an excerpt from his speech to Nets fans and season ticketholders:

"If everything goes as planned, I expect to be in the playoffs next season...and championship in one year minimum and maximum in five years...

"The excitement is with the Nets. We will have a desire to win that is unmatched anywhere in the league. This will be a first class organization with all the support it needs...

"This will be the first truly global team in the NBA with exceptional international exposure no other team can reach, and there will be fans of the Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn to Moscow...

“I can convince the very best of the best that the Nets are the place they want to be."

Five years came and went without the Nets coming anywhere near achieving a championship squad. In fact, the trade for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry backfired in the worst way as the organization mortgaged its future on a longshot for three aging stars to lead them to a title. That didn't happen, and instead the Nets became the laughing stock of the league.

Three years out of the playoffs before Sean Marks and company turned things around last season and won 42 games to reach the sixth seed in the East before being ousted by the Sixers in five games.

Prokhorov's pride was on the line back in 2015 and he pushed all his chips to the middle of the table, but luck was not on his side. Former General manager Billy King took the blame for what many considered one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history that awarded the Celtics countless unprotected draft picks in exchange for three over-the-hill players.

The Nets owner is less visible in the media and instead of making headlines with the media, he's empowering his employees to do their jobs and providing them with terrific resources to be as effective as possible.

Prokhorov learned his lesson through that challenge as he's now taken a backseat to allow Marks to build a culture and develop the roster organically through purchasing draft picks, investing in international scouting and developing players from starting at the G-League level.

The Nets are now the talk of the NBA with the acquisition of Kevin Durant via sign and trade and Kyrie Irving by way of free agency. Prokhorov's best decision was to check his ego at the door and allow the basketball experts to make the basketball decisions. With a healthy Durant, the Nets are trending toward being a team that could be considered a championship contender. The team's owner learned his lesson that a lot more is at stake for the Nets organization that just his personal pride.

I've been watching the Nets for 25 years and I never recall a season with more anticipation or excitement than the 2019 campaign.

While Knicks fans, Celtics fans, and all-around Nets-haters try to rain on the parade by intimating that Kevin Durant won't be back this season and maybe never the same player again; I'm not buying it. 

Look, I understand the severity of Durant's injury and the normal timetable for recovery is 9-12 months. There isn't a strong track record of players rebounding from this setback in quick fashion and even fewer return to the same level of play they showcased prior to the injury.

All those things are good and well, but Durant is a different animal. His lean body will allow for a quicker recovery than more muscle-bound or bulkier athletes. Durant's strength has always been his ability to rise up and shoot over opponents. 

Standing 7-feet tall, Durant is almost indefensible and is regarded as one of the greatest shooters in the history of the NBA. Even if Durant returns at 75 percent this season, and isn't fully himself until the 2020 season, a 75 percent Durant is better than 99 percent of the league. 

The other factor at work is that the surgeon that conducted the surgery on Durant is the Nets team doctor, part of the HSS team. The surgeon has closely followed Durant's situation and reports were that when Durant heard the doctors plan for rehab, he was very encouraged and elated. 

Durant posted pictures of him already rehabbing in the swimming pool and shooting baskets which is a major step forward. 

Take that for what you think it means, but that spells a quicker road to recovery than many anticipate. Brooklyn doesn't want to make the same mistake that Golden State did a year ago by rushing Durant back before he's ready. 

I have the utmost confidence in the Nets medical staff and Durant wanting to push himself as hard as possible without making the same mistake of coming back too soon again. 

Right now the Nets are not even mentioned in the top 3 teams in the East with the Bucks, Celtics, and Pacers all edging out the rising Brooklyn squad, but coming off a 42-win season it's expected that the team will take the next step forward. 

So what does that mean? 45 wins, 49 wins, 50-plus wins? Who knows, but it's not unreasonable to think that even if the Nets are the fourth-best team in the East that they'll be favored to win a first round matchup and then who knows if Durant will be back and ready in time for late-April to early-May. 

The Nets have a lot of work ahead to develop chemistry on the team with Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Garrett Temple and others joining the fold. Durant's injury is certainly an early question mark, but ruling him out the entire campaign is foolish at this point.  

Kevin Durant's rehab is underway and the sharpshooter is already shooting a basketball! Well technically he is because he's working out in a pool, but that's a major first step toward him making a return to the hardwood.

Check out all the photos below.

Nearly 20 years later, it's a day that will live in infamy for many Nets fans. It's a day that forever changed the course of a franchise that for many years was considered the red-headed stepchild of the NBA. It was the day the Nets traded away Stephon Marbury for floor general and future first ballot hall of famer Jason Kidd. The agreement was in place on June 29, but couldn't be agreed to until July 18 when Marbury's base-year salary status came to a close.

The other pieces of the trade include Chris Carr, Elliot Perry and forward Bill Curley headed to the Nets while the Wolves got guard Terrell Brandon from Milwaukee and forward Brian Evans and two draft choices from the Nets, including a first-rounder. The then-New Jersey Nets sent Sam Cassell and Chris Gatling to the Bucks, who also get Paul Grant from the Wolves.

It was a complicated scenario, but the two star point guards saw their careers go in opposite directions. Marbury put up empty numbers during his time with the Suns, while Kidd served as the catalyst for the Nets 26-game turnaround and the first of back-to-back Finals appearances in his first year with the team. While the Nets abandoned the Meadowlands for a short stop in Newark before the permanent move to Brooklyn, it's clear that the Kidd trade was a landmark moment for the franchise.

With Kyrie Irving arriving as a free agent signing and Kevin Durants coming by way of a sign and trade involving DeAngelo Russell and several future draft picks, it's clear that this offseason marks the most important and perhaps impactful since Kidd's arrival to the Metropolitan area.

As Nets fans are anxiously await Durant to heal from a potentially devastating Achilles injury. An injury that he suffered in Game 5 of the finals-in his first action back since the Warriors reported he injured his calf in the semi-finals against the Rockets-it's not impossible that he returns to the court this season.

With or without Durant this year, the buzz and hype around the Brooklyn Nets is unprecedented. They transformed from one of the league's laughing stocks to a potential perennial power in the Eastern Conference. General manager Sean Marks was handed a complete mess left by former GM Billy King who was pressured by ownership to win-now back in 2014 and mortgaged the future to acquire aging stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. In three short years the Nets have quietly and meticulously built a culture that is the envy of the rest of the NBA.

Opponents admire the Nets tenacious play and free-flowing offensive system, including Kevin Durant. While most New Jerseyeans were sad to see the Nets leave the Garden State, there's no doubt that a marquee offseason like the one of the Nets enjoyed would be extremely unlikely playing in front of an empty building in the swamp. The Nets have established a brand of basketball, an identity and a culture in Brooklyn.

Now we'll have to seen if Marks' wheelings and dealings will return the Nets back to prominence like they once enjoyed under Kidd's leadership in the early-2000s.

Kyrie Irving is often lauded for his play on the hardwood, but his depiction of old-time fictional street ball legend Uncle Drew is worthy of praise. Based on Nike Commercials showcasing Irving dressed up as the elderly baller schooling youngsters became widely popular and was the basis for the movie's development and release last summer.

Featuring Irving and former NBA greats: Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber, and slam dunk champion Nate Robinson, Uncle Drew is filled with humor, life lessons and lots of heart.

While Irving's surprisingly polished acting skills and laugh out loud portrayal of Uncle Drew are reason enough to give the basketball flick a chance, Nets fans will surely get a kick out of watching their franchise point guard's debut on the big screen.

The Nets have two of the top eleven players in the NBA according to the ratings released by NBA 2K20 this week. Kevin Durant (3) and Kyrie Irving (11) proudly represent the borough of Brooklyn and Metropolitan area with a 96 and 91 rating respectively. While video game ratings clearly don't translate to on-court performance, 2K has been awfully good over the years of simulating each player's strengths and weaknesses.

Gaming has quickly become a billion dollar industry and even the NBA has followed suit by drafting players to represent the respective teams across the league. Below are the overall player ratings along with the ratings of this year's rooies, top five shooters, and dynamic duos

Player Overall rating
1. LeBron James 97
2. Kawhi Leonard 97
3. Giannis Antetokounmp 96
*4. Kevin Durant 96
5. James Harden 96
6. Stephen Curry 96
7. Anthony Davis 94
8. Paul George 93
9. Damian Lillard 92
10. Joel Embiid 91
*11. Kyrie Irving 91
12. Nikola Jokic 90
13. Russell Westbrook 90
14. Klay Thompson 89
15. Karl-Anthony Towns 89
16. Jimmy Butler 88
17. Kemba Walker 88
18. Donovan Mitchell 88
19. Rudy Gobert 88
20. Blake Griffin 88

NBA 2K20" player ratings: Top five rookies Player Overall rating
1. Zion Williamson 81
2. Ja Morant 79
3. RJ Barrett 78
4. De'Andre Hunter 77
5. Darius Garland 77

"NBA 2K20" player ratings: Top five shooters

Player 3-point rating
1. Stephen Curry 99
2. Klay Thompson 97
3. Joe Harris 94
4. JJ Redick 90
5. Buddy Hield 90

"NBA 2K20" player ratings: Top dynamic duos

Player Average overall rating 1. LeBron James and Anthony Davis 95.5
2. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George 95
3. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving 93.5
4. James Harden and Russell Westbrook 93

Rick Laughland joins the OpenMike program to discuss arguably the biggest moment in Nets franchise history.

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