Last year it was the rash of untimely injuries coupled with a pandemic-shortened and disrupted season that contributed to a Nets' second round playoff exit.

Now with a year of coaching under his belt, but without his former coach and top assistant Mike D'Antoni, Steve Nash will have the weight of the world on his shoulders to deliver on the Brooklyn Nets title expectations.

With a hobbled James Harden and Kyrie Irving sidelined in the playoffs, the Nets offense was Kevin Durant centric, without the ball movement and pace of a typical D'Antoni system.

Brooklyn looked stagnant offensively and had it not been for the heroics of Durant to force Milwaukee to the brink of elimination, the Nets may have been ousted even earlier in the series.




Dantoni's signature switching defense was preyed on by a more physically dominating Bucks team and Nash's unwillingness to expand his bench rotation left the offense riding and dying on the broad shoulders of Durant.

D'Antoni is a highly respected coach in the league and is one of the pioneers on the modern day 3-point happy, up-tempo most teams employ.  The long time NBA coach is deserving of another chance to lead a team and garnered a considerable amount of interest from several teams.

Now Nash won't have a sounding board or mentor at his side and will need to do everything on his own, with limited coaching experience and little room for error.

The second-year coach needs to maximize the effectiveness of the league's most talented roster because falling short of a title will put his job in jeopardy.





The Brooklyn Nets top three All-Stars could potentially be gone after the 2021-2022 season. That, and that alone should scare Sean Marks and Joe Tsai enough in to keeping Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden in Brooklyn for the forseeable future priority number one. The status of the Nets trio is undoubtedly the most pressing need facing the team.
Without the Big-three together, the Nets were ousted by Milwaukee in seven games in the second round of the playoffs despite Durant's heroics that fell a hair short, or in his case a shoe size too big. At full strength, Brooklyn is the odds-on favorite to take the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2022, but the last thing Marks and company want is for potential opt-out/free agent status hanging over their dynamic weapons all season-long.

 If Durant, Irving and Harden are extended long-term, it will calm the anxiety and question marks surrounding how big the Nets champsionship window realy is. In a pandemic impacted year, the Nets fell short of championship expectations as injuries ravaged the team along with much of the NBA's upper echelon teams. 

The Bucks and Suns were simply, the last teams left standing after a shortened off-season and shortage of practice time and training impacted the health and longevity of many players. Heading into the 2021-2022 season, the Nets will have zero excuses. It's championship or bust. Milwaukee took advanatage of a beaten down Nets team to squeak by and capture its first title in 50 years. 

Now, the Nets have a decades-long championship drought they're aiming to snap, so this offseason is the critical time in which Marks, Tsai, and the rest of the team's braintrust need to secure its top talent by extending the Big-three.
The consensus pick to represent the Eastern Conference was the Brooklyn Nets. Overloaded with talent, and not short on personality, the Nets merely needed to stay on the court to reach their first NBA Finals since the 2002-2003 season.
Alas, injuries struck down two of the team's three megastars during the playoffs with Kyrie Irving suffering and ankle sprain in Game 4 before missing the remainder of the series and James Harden suffering a grade two right hamstring strain in the opening minutes of Game 1 only to return as a shell of his former self in Games 5-7. When posted the question of what most experts projected to be a Lakers and Nets finals matchup, it wasn't a member of the big three, but instead Spencer Dinwiddie, who was lost in the third game of the regular season with a turn MCL, who picked Brooklyn in a landslide. We'll never know exactly how far the Nets would have made it if healthy and whether the Lakers would have been their opponent had injuries not derailed their title defense hopes. Dinwiddie had been linked to the Lakers in several sign and trade scenarios involving the two clubs, so it will be fascinating to see what coast the talented guard winds up on.
Stephen A. Smith put his foot in his mouth yet again this week and received blowback from a number of notable celebrities including Nets owner, Joe Tsai.
Smith, who questioned how Shohei Ohtani could be the face of baseball with a language barrier, deserves whatever is coming his way. The insinuation is insulting to immigrants of all countries, but particular Asian-Americans, a group from which Tsai belongs to. Brooklyn's owner had a witty and direct shot at Smith's ignorant comment.
Kyrie Irving has missed 70 games the last two seasons between injuries, personal reasons, and rest. The lifelong Nets fan turned franchise savior is an electrifying force when he's healthy and on the court.
Irving has often been plagued by various mental and physical problems and is far from the most durable player in the league, which is why the Nets need to make re-signing Spencer Dinwiddie the team's top priority. Yes, $145 million dollars over five-years sounds like ludicrous money to dole out to a backup point guard, but given Irving's history of missing games, Dinwiddie will likely get significant minutes and represent an important insurance policy for the team's starter.


  Dinwiddie could start on about 20 teams throughout the NBA, but the Nets happen to have a top 3 player at the point guard position, so an embarrassment of riches isn't something Brooklyn should apologize for. Dinwiddie has been far from an iron man during his NBA days and college playing days, but having a sixth man that can go for 25 and 10 on any given night, might be exactly what a championship hopeful team needs with a collection of otherworldly superstars who have a penchant for missing games.

Unlike the majority of the world economy, Alibaba has been one of the select few companies to persevere and actually prosper during a global pandemic.
One of the company's cofounders, Joseph Tsai, happens to own the Brooklyn Nets, a franchise that has an extension for its big three superstars pending this summer. Along with securing the long term futures of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, Spencer Dinwiddie is looking for upwards of a five-year $145 million deal to remain in Brooklyn. Injuries detailed the Nets title hopes, but filling out the roster around the big three will be imperative if they hope to realize their true potential. Paying Dinwiddie will push the franchise deep into the luxury tax, but for a billionaire owner whose personal wealth continues to grow, now is not the time for the Nets to shy away from the luxury tax burden if it's the difference between another early playoff exit or the franchise's first Larry O'Brien trophy.
Sp
Spencer Dinwiddie is a borderline star with the potential to cash in on a life changing payday. Dinwiddie may get a near-max deal, it just won't come in Brooklyn.


  The Nets backup guard has had both knees surgically repaired since his college days at Colorado, and at the beginning of last year with the Nets, so while he's entering the prime of his career, a history of injuries, along with steep contract demands makes it almost a forgone conclusion his time with the Nets is likely over.

Dinwiddie and Joe Harris are the only two holdovers from Kenny Atkinson's era with the team and during this off-season, Brooklyn will be searching for a new backup point guard. Dinwiddie was a beloved member of Brooklyn during his five seasons with the Nets, but every general manager and owner has tough decisions to make and seeking a sign and trade with Dinwiddie is the best route for the team and player at this point.
It might be sacrilegious to say it, but the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns may not be the best teams in their respective conferences, they've simply survived the walking minefield otherwise known as the 2021 NBA playoffs. Not a single player on either team has ever won a ring and that trend was likely to continue before a rash of unforseen injuries sent the Nets, Lakers, Jazz, Nuggets, Clippers and Sixers home early with due to injuries to star players.
The NBA is a star-driven league and with perennial All-Stars James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and Jamal Murray unable to play for either stretches or the entirety of the playoffs. The 2021 NBA Finals has intrigued with 16-year veteran Chris Paul chasing his first ever Larry O'Brien trophy, or Giannis Antetokounmpo trying


  to solidify his status as an all-time great by putting a trophy in his case. Injuries are part of the game, and this is no slight to either the Suns or the Bucks, but they did not face fully healthy opponents on their way to the championship round.

A lot is being made of Kevin Durant and Kevin Love rooming up in Team USA's quest for the Gold in this summer's Tokyo Olympics. The veteran power forward is a likely buyout candidate in Cleveland and rumors are linking him to the Nets as a viable target for GM Sean Marks.
The soon to be 33 year old won the 2016 NBA championship with Kyrie Irving on the Cavs, b and bringing him into the fold in Brooklyn could be the missing piece. Love is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter while averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per contest. The 13-year veteran's ability to spread the floor with perimeter shooting and help on the boards will offset his pedestrian defensive play.


  The Nets will need all the shooting they can get around Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, while defense and rebounding have long been the group's weak spot. Love's days in Cleveland area numbered, so a change of scenery and pursuit of a championship in Brooklyn would bring even more dynamism and excitement to the Nets.

If you asked the oddsmakers what team to put your money on entering the NBA playoffs, the answer was unequivocally the Brooklyn Nets.
With the most efficient offense in NBA history, and three legitimate MVP caliber players, the stars looked aligned for Brooklyn to win it all. A clean bill of health kept the Nets from climbing the NBA mountaintop as a


  sidelined Kyrie Irving and hobbled James Harden proved to much for even a heroic Kevin Durant to knockout Milwaukee. The Nets gave the Bucks all they could handle as Durant was a mere inch away from sending Milwaukee home in Game 7. Alas, Brooklyn's superteam fell short of lofty expectations and while injuries are a part of the game, the Nets and their fans are left wondering if the best team truly emerged out of the Eastern Conference.

 In a class that includes Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Dennis Schroder, and Goran Dragic, according to his Instagram post, Spencer Dinwiddie is adamant that he's the best of the bunch.




Outside of Dinwiddie and Conley, all the players listed have either been to an NBA finals or won the title as their team's starting floor general.

Dinwiddie, when healthy, was an electrifying scorer for the Nets, but was designated as the team's sixth man backing up DeAngelo Russell when he was in Brooklyn and Kyrie Irving the last two years.<

The reality is Dinwiddie wants a top of the market point guard contract, that he very well may get, but not in Brooklyn. Sean Marks has already indicated that the Nets will do what's best for the player, and coincidentally a sign and trade scenario will benefit both parties.

Based on the money the Nets have tied up in star players, who are all eligible for extensions this summer, and Dinwiddie's deservedly hefty contract demands, Brooklyn's sixth man extraordinaire will likely be playing elsewhere next season.



 By all accounts, Brook Lopez is the most talented true center to ever play for the Nets franchise.

The former first round pick out of Stanford in the 2008 NBA draft is still atop the Nets history books in the scoring department.




Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a knee injury and Lopez brought his game to another level by dropping 33 points and 7 rebounds, while Bobby Portis added 22 points and 8 rebounds to lead Milwaukee to the win.

After nine seasons that spanned the Nets move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, Lopez was an unheralded cornerstone piece who braved some subpar years with the team.

Now just one win shy of reaching his first NBA Finals, Nets fans might be conflicted watching a former team fan favorite make a deep playoff push with a heated Eastern Conference rival.


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