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New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-04-27 News New Jersey Nets

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News » New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-04-27

New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-04-27

New Jersey Nets Getting Inside 2008-04-27
There was good. Like the Nets pulling off a trade to land Devin Harris, a young, rising star, along with two first-round draft picks in exchange for a disgruntled Jason Kidd. Given the circumstances, where the entire world knew Kidd wanted out and had to be dealt, the Nets made a good trade.

There was bad. Like the Nets seeing their string of six straight playoff appearances, a feat that currently only the Spurs, Pistons and Mavs also can claim, come to a crashing end. That was bad.

There was ugly. Like 31 games where the Nets lost by double digits. Or 46 games where they surrendered 100 or more points. For a team that always prided itself on defense, that was ugly. Very ugly.

Plus, there were enough injuries and enough off-court issues and drama for a prime time soap opera, not the least of which was the Kidd situation. The team captain's unhappiness was well-documented and forced a daily analysis of all things mental and physical. Too frequently, the focus was on everything but the court.

So the Nets head into what should be an exceedingly busy off-season. They have four free agents -- three unrestricted in stopgap point guard Darrell Armstrong (won't be back), perimeter specialist Bostjan Nachbar and interior defender DeSagana Diop. Then there is restricted free agent Nenad Krstic, who had a disappointing season after coming back from major knee surgery.

There is the draft, where they hold their own lottery pick plus Dallas' first rounder through the Kidd trade. Through trade, drafting or free agent shopping, the Nets will seek to find shooters, runners, bruisers, probably another veteran point guard. They want to utilize Harris' quickness in an up-tempo game, plus they will continue their perennial search for a low-post scoring forward. And they'll always look for defensive help.

"Offensively, everything we have is fine," Harris maintained. "We have no problems scoring the ball. Defensively, we just have to get better. If we play defensively the way (we're capable), we can be right up there."

But for the first time in seven years, they're right down there in the lottery. When Kidd arrived, the Nets became winners and enjoyed the finest moments in their NBA history. Now, he's gone. A lottery ticket is back. They want to return to their playoff habit.

"It's extremely disappointing. After having six years of tasting the post-season, to not be able to play in the post-season is extremely disappointing," said coach Lawrence Frank, who has the full support -- for now -- of management despite the losing record. "We apologize to our fans, to our management, to our ownership that we didn't fulfill our responsibility. We feel like we've let a lot of people down. This won't ever happen again."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: There was a road victory over the Lakers in November, one of the few flashes of light in an overall gloomy season. But a five-game post-Christmas and into-the-New Year celebration contained the Nets' longest winning streak and most of the feel-good moments of the season. The Nets even beat three playoff teams in the Dec. 28 to Jan. 5 run: Washington, Milwaukee, Orlando, Charlotte and Atlanta. But after splitting the next two games, reality returned and the Nets lost nine straight.

TURNING POINT: Maybe the breakdown began with Vince Carter's sprained ankle in November, but Dec. 5 is the date for the season's most crucial and ultimately damaging moment. That was the night Jason Kidd, citing a migraine, took off a game against the hated Knicks. Numerous insiders throughout the organization maintained Kidd was protesting his failure to secure a contract extension, something Kidd still denies. Kidd's unhappiness and subsequent trade request ultimately came to light and until it was resolved, as Richard Jefferson later claimed, the Nets were "dead men walking."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: April 27, 2008


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