Friday, January 31, 2014

Is Now the Time to Sell?

Billy King Has Decisions To Make

It's hard to deny the facts; the Nets are rolling. After exactly 45 games this team finally appears to be clicking. The Brooklyn Nets went 10-4 in the month of January, including impressive wins over the Golden State Warriors, the Miami Heat, the Oklahoma City Thunder and a win at Madison Square Garden against the rival New York Knicks. Since the fall of Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett is thriving as center for this team, while Joe Johnson is playing at an all-star level. Additionally, Paul Pierce has found his groove and the combination of Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston is lethal. Moreover, the Eastern Conference is falling apart. Though the Pacers are still arguably the best team in the entire league, the Miami Heat are reeling. After the Pacers and the Heat, the talent in the East drops immensely to the Horford-less Hawks, the Raptors, the Deng and Rose-less Bulls and the Wizards. Sitting at the 7th seed is your own Brooklyn Nets who look poised to make a run up the Eastern ladder.

The Nets could make a run to the three or four seed in the Eastern Conference. With the way this team is playing and with the lack of talent in the East, anything is possible. However it is essential that Nets fans stop being so naive. I'm sure a good  amount of Nets fans are looking at the team's outlook for the rest of the season and are thinking as such: "The Nets could win the division, get the three seed and knock of the six seed. They could then play an injury plagued two seed Miami Heat who we've beaten twice already and from that point on anything is possible! Right?" Anything can happen in the playoffs? Not likely!

First of all, while the Nets are playing incredibly well, this team is not going to play at this level for the rest of the season. This Nets team is old and will go into a few more slumps. Unfortunately for the Nets, their horrid start means that any potential slump could knock them out of the playoffs if another team gets hot. Secondly, let's say the Nets stay where they are at the seven seed. If you think that just because they have beaten the Miami Heat twice that they are better than them or close to that level you are mistaken. The first time they played the Heat they won with the most healthy roster they have had this season and the second time they played the Heat Dwyane Wade did not play. So let's calm our jets. Let's also take a step back. We're all really excited because the Nets are back in the playoff picture. However, let's not forget that just because the Nets have played so poorly this season, that this is still a team that had championship aspirations. This team is clearly not a championship contender nor is it even close. For that reason is why the Nets need to step back from their hot streak and face the facts. They have an old roster full of expiring contracts along with some younger attractive pieces, no draft picks and no chance of a title.

General Manager Billy King should use the Nets hot streak to SELL HIGH. That is right folks; instead of hopefully wishing that this team pulls of a miracle run in the playoffs, Billy King should use this hot streak to trade his assets. Paul Pierce, Andray Blatche and Andrei Kirilenko are all playing great basketball, but they are also expiring contracts. The Nets should use their hot play and trade them to contenders. The Clippers could use Paul Pierce given the injuries of Chris Paul and J.J. Reddick. Andray Blatche could be a great fit on the Thunder who need some more scoring threats, especially given the Russell Westbrook injury. Kevin Garnett was a shell of himself earlier in the year and is now looking like the Kevin Garnett from last year. Though he has a no trade clause the Nets could dump him to a contending team that could use his services. Also, teams are starting to see the real value in sharpshooter Mirza Teletovic.

Though trading these pieces would still leave the Nets with their three most expensive assets; Deron, Brook and Joe, the Nets could also explore trading these guys. While Johnson's contract is more or less untradeable the Nets should trade Brook Lopez. His stock is obviously lower given the injury, but the Nets can't depend on a player who appears to be on the same trajectory as Yao Ming and Sam Bowie. The Suns are a team that has ample draft picks and could use a defined all star like Brook. Even the Rockets discussed with the Nets a trade of Lin and Asik for Williams. This trade would rid the Nets of cap restrictions so that they could go after a Durant or Love in a few years.

Naivety is what drives teams to the ground. Fortunately for the Nets they have a chance to not fall into the wishful thinking trap. They should use this hot streak to sell high and restart. We all know that they most likely can't beat a Heat or Pacers or even a depleted Bulls team, so let's act at the trade deadline.

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