What first comes to mind when you hear the word Brooklyn? For me, I think of Brooklyn being the place where I was born. I think of famous food places such as the first Nathan’s hot dogs stand, Junior’s Cheesecake, and L & B Spumoni Gardens pizza. I think of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Cyclone roller coaster, and of course Coney Island.
Brooklyn is one of the famous five boroughs in New York. It’s known for its distinct culture and arts. It’s also a very diverse community, and hasn’t held a professional sports team since the Dodgers moved in 1957. That was until 2012, as the team formerly known as the New Jersey Nets are officially making a new home in Brooklyn.
This move wouldn’t have been possible without rap superstar Jay-Z and Russian celebrity owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Jay-Z is from the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn and is a minority owner of the Nets. Him and Prokhorov moved the team because of business reasons. New York is known to be a basketball Mecca and grosses lots of income for every professional sports team playing in the area.
Having a team in Brooklyn also gives the residents a team of their own: something that was taken away from them in 1957. Brooklyn is the biggest borough out of the five located in New York with a population of over two million residents.
Moving to Brooklyn makes the Nets a cross-town rival of the infamous New York Knicks. The Knicks, led by stars Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, are coming off another first-round exit in the postseason along with a new head coach in Mike Woodson. Sports journalist/analyst Stephen A. Smith said about the Nets moving to Brooklyn, “The Nets are coming to take over. They’re coming to dethrone the Knicks and take over New York.”
The problem is how can a team that only won 22 games last season take over New York right now? Brooklyn gave up an average of 100 points per game while scoring 94 a game this previous season. They also ranked 26th in rebounding and 22nd in assists. The Nets even revealed 25 different starting lineups during the season due to numerous injuries.
Coming off another losing season, the Nets are locating to a new home to rejuvenate the franchise. Moving to a new city or changing a team’s name/logo has worked for other franchises in recent years (Tampa Bay Rays, Oklahoma City Thunder).
You can’t always depend on a new location, but rather the team you have to help rebuild as well. If the Nets want to play successful, they have to acquire more talent to help head coach Avery Johnson. Deron Williams has been with the team for the past one and a half seasons after being acquired via trade from the Utah Jazz. He’s been one of the few bright spots of the team as well as a top-tier point guard in the league.
Williams only has a few options to go to minus Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, and MarShon Brooks. Brooklyn has been rumored to be a destination for Dwight Howard. If the Nets are able to acquire him via trade or free agency, their next step should be building around the two stars.
With a star point guard and center in place, drafting and signing the required role players is the next step. If the Nets are to trade for Howard, they’d probably give up a lot, including some of the options I mentioned in the previous paragraph as well as draft picks, so drafting might not be an option. Signing a player like Andrei Kirilenko would make sense. Brooklyn should be able to sign any free agent available by convincing them about the spotlight in New York and helping build a contender.
But before they think about their future with Williams and possibly Howard, the Nets have to make sure their current stars are signed long-term. Deron Williams has been rumored to opt-out of his current deal and become a free agent this season, as well as Gerald Wallace. What general manager Billy King should do is offer Williams the max-contract while convincing Wallace to opt-in his 9.5 million one-year player option. Keeping Wallace would be ideal, as Brooklyn acquired him from the Portland Trail Blazers for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a first-round pick this past season (top three protected).
The 2012 NBA offseason will decide the direction of the Nets team. If Williams commits as well as Wallace, then Brooklyn will only continue to get better. Their lottery pick is the main piece to acquiring Howard. If it’s a top three pick, they will use it as bait for the deal. All of this crumbles, so will the Nets for another few years. One thing is for sure: fans will come and so will the money. The ball is in Jay-Z, Billy King, and Prokhorov’s hands now to build a contender.