The Brooklyn Nets have no chance to make a dent in the Eastern Conference with Joe Johnson as the only legitamite addition to the roster. With eight-figure deals given to all four players, the Nets are likely to be pretty much the same team over the next three years. Moving Kris Humphries at the deadline or by a future sign-and-trade could land some big time talent but the Collective Bargaining Agreement will intervene sooner or later, making other splashy moves extremely expensive or impossible to execute.
Is this group good enough to truly compete as is? As noted earlier this summer, the Nets have positioned themselves as a possible top-4 seed in the East. That’s a huge jump from last season and it’s possible it could wind up taking two years to make that type of climb. But going from bad to good isn’t the most difficult part. As teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs have learned, going from good, or even great, to a title team is a whole different challenge.
The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, of course, are the cream of the crop in the East. Consider that the Heat have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony under contract through 2014-15, assuming those players pick up player options. Other key players — Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers — are on the roster through 2013-14, should options on both sides get exercised. The defending champions, in other words, should have their nucleus intact for most if not all of Prokhorov’s championship window. Ditto for the Celtics, who have Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry under contract through at least 2014-15 and will have every opportunity to retain Paul Pierce when he becomes a free agent in 2013 or 2014, given his desire to stay with Boston for his entire career. The Chicago Bulls, meanwhile, have Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, their two most important pieces, on the books through 2017 and 2016, respectively.
To boil it down: if you don’t like the Nets’ chances over the Heat or Celtics this season, there’s no great reason to like their chances of fulfilling Prokhorov’s prediction, or even coming that close. Given recent history and the current competitive landscape, a single appearance in the Eastern Conference finals over the next three years would be hailed as a major win. By everyone except Prokhorov, that is.So get ready for a long season in Brooklyn the Nets will not be championship ready for at least 4 years.