It was just last year in July when the Nets announced its NBA existence by signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The signing served as a message that they are ready to contend for a championship and be relevant in a basketball fan’s conscience.
Fast forward to now, the Nets settled with having replacements to finish up their season in Orlando for the NBA’s restart. Wilson Chandler, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Nicolas Claxton, Irving, and Durant won’t be playing. We knew Durant wasn’t going to play because of an Achilles injury, and Irving decided not to play through a shoulder injury knowing the Nets have no chance of doing much in the playoffs. Chandler sat out for family reasons. Jordan and Dinwiddie opted out of playing because they tested positive for coronavirus. Claxton is nursing a shoulder injury.
Oh, and they fired Kenny Atkinson as their head coach in the middle of the season before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Jacques Vaughn serves as the substitute coach.
Times sure changed from last year to now. Things happen over the course of a few months. The Nets are now stuck with trying to survive and making the most of it rather than priming themselves up for a postseason run.
Just another Net luck where bad things just happen to this franchise that can’t get out its own way. But the Nets and their replacements can make something out of this. Forget about playing for this season, but playing for next season.
For players such as Jamal Crawford, Lance Thomas, Michael Beasley, and others, it’s a chance for them to be on the roster next season when the Nets contend for a championship. If there is one thing the Nets need to be a championship team, it’s depth. Nets general manager Sean Marks signed those guys to see what they can do now that can convince him that they are the answer for a strong playoff run next season.
Crawford yearned to play for a team all season with no takers. But the Nets called him to extend his career to 20 seasons. Now, he hopes he can play all the way next year or beyond. At 40 years old, he can offer something for the Nets by coming off the bench and scoring. He flourished as the sixth man in his successful career, and he hopes he still has it.
Even if he can contribute a little, this helps for the Nets. It’s not like they are asking him to score 15 points per game. They just want him to stay on the court for a good 10 minutes and have him on the + side column in terms of +/- stats.
For Beasley, he offers scoring off the bench. He can be another productive sixth man. Think Vinnie Johnson from those Bad Boys Pistons teams. He can score in spurts. This turns out to be valuable when it comes to depth come playoff time. Whether he plays or not this summer is another question because he has been tested positive for coronavirus. Thomas could be used as a warm body for the Nets. He can play some defense and give some good minutes.
Yes, they may not be good enough to help the Nets win games in the restart and then in the playoffs. But this is about looking at the big picture. This is about next year more than anything. For the replacements, it’s about this year playing for next year, so for them, this summer means something to them.
Beasley needs this more than anyone because if he does not do well, he may not get a look from anyone after this year. No one sought his services, even though he did a decent job with the Knicks.
For the average Nets fan or a basketball fan, he or she may not have a reason to watch the Nets.
For these players, the restart proves to be beneficial just to show how much they have left and why teams were wrong not to pick them. This serves as a purpose for them.
For management, it’s about making the team even better with Durant coming back next year.
There’s nothing meaningless about this summer restart just thinking about it.
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