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New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-10-18 News New Jersey Nets

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News » New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-10-18

New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-10-18

New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2009-10-18The prospective new owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, is expected to get approval from the NBA Board of Governors after the first of the year. With Prokhorov's ocean-deep pockets, an impending free agent class that comes along about as frequently as Russian NBA owners and a fairly decent foundation of young talent, good times loom on the horizon for the Nets.

The problem is that horizon lies beyond the 2009-10 season.

The Nets, after six straight playoff appearances that included two trips to the Finals, have been lottery material two years running. And this season should make it three straight. The Nets' key components are young. Youth means mistakes. They have seven expiring contracts which could mean personal agendas. There is no Jason Kidd or Vince Carter to lead.

Many observers predict disaster. Now it will not be a picnic, but it might not be that bad. There is talent. Just not enough. And definitely not enough up front. Coach Lawrence Frank, who seemed certain to make it to season's end with an old ownership that would not have paid two coaching salaries, could be on the hot seat immediately. He is a realist about this team and from Day 1 of training camp, has preached the need for hard work, together play and improved defense.

"None of us is as strong as all of us," has been Frank's mantra.

Frank also has referred to the Nets' "horizontal" depth chart. In some cases, especially at forward, the first three options are interchangeable. The biggest question lies at power forward where Yi Jianlian has been a 7-0 tribute to inconsistency and injury in his first two seasons (split between the Bucks and Nets). Yi spent much of the summer working on a post game and his drives to the basket. The Nets need that in full.

There are wings who are multi-faceted and fast. Devin Harris at point teams with shooting guard Courtney Lee to form one of the NBA's quickest backcourts. Rookie Terrence Williams has impressed with his defense and versatility (but, again, he is a rookie). Chris Douglas-Roberts gets to the hole and creates his own shot. Both play three and two. On the veteran side, Jarvis Hayes and Bobby Simmons play three and four, depending on matchups. And both bring proven three-point ability.

At center is Brook Lopez with a total offensive package: A jumper, strength at the rim, jump hooks. He can dominate. But he will be seeing more double teams than his rookie season.

"Brook will be more of a focal point in the post," Frank said. "But what is as important is being an anchor and communicator defensively."

That's where the Nets must improve. While they were 20th in scoring last year, even more disturbing for a team known for defense was ranking 17th in points allowed, 19th in field goal defense. Points will be even tougher to come by with Carter in Orlando through the trade for Lee, Rafer Alston and Tony Battie.

"We have to improve defensively," Lopez said. "Vince's 20 points are gone and we have to make up for that. One of the easiest ways to do it is to pick it up defensively."

While speeding things up offensively. With Harris and Lee, who started in the Finals for Orlando, the Nets have a young backcourt they hope will lead them not only to Brooklyn eventually, but back to the playoffs, assuming additional components through the wonders of cap space.

So if all goes right -- and basically that means nothing can go wrong -- the Nets can pull a repeat of last season when expectations were nil and they surprised, got off to a strong start, stayed in the playoff hunt but wilted.

"Obviously, we don't have a lot of expectations on us, but we do have guys with chips on their shoulders, guys who were traded from Finals teams, guys who are in the final years of their contracts," Frank said. "So we have a lot of motivation and we can use that to our advantage."

COACHING STAFF: Head Coach -- Lawrence Frank, 7th season, 6th full (225-225). Assistants -- Tom Barrise, Doug Overton, Roy Rogers, John Loyer.

LAST SEASON, REMEMBERED: 34-48 (3rd in Atlantic), out of the playoffs for a second straight season.

THIS SEASON, PREDICTED: 30-52 (last in the Atlantic), out of the playoffs for a third straight season.

POSSIBLE CHANGES, PREDICTED: With new ownership expected to take over in 2010 during what looms as a tough rebuilding season, coach Lawrence Frank, in the last year of his contract, might not survive if the losing is non-stop. Plus, with seven expiring contracts, the Nets could be active around the trading deadline, but not looking to take back players. Vet Rafer Alston could be a very popular trading chip.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 18, 2009


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