Nets looking at short term, not building a solid foundation

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The Nets are moving to Brooklyn next season — they wanted to enter the nation’s largest market with a splash. They made a bold trade a year ago to get Deron Williams — giving up a lot of good prospects like Derrick Favors — in hopes they could use him and the looming bright lights of New York to lure in other big names.

Actually, one big name — Dwight Howard.

A Deron and Dwight combo could rival the star power of that other team in New York and would give them a foundation that — with the right other players on the roster — could contend. And contend in that market with the Knicks (sort of, anyway, New York will always be a Knicks town).

But Howard has decided to stay in Orlando for another year. Maybe longer.

And that gave the Nets a second chance at this — start making moves for the long term or keep going with the short-term strategy so they could make a splash in Brooklyn.

They went short term. That may set them back in the long term.

First, Thuyrsday they traded for Gerald Wallace — the slightly injured small forward from Portland. Who can opt out of his contract after the season just like Williams. But a guy who can score and brings defense they sorely need.

The Nets starting five the rest of this season is not bad if healthy — Williams, MarShon Brooks, Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. Who are they going to go after this summer? Kevin Garnett, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. That would be 36-year-old Kevin Garnett. Who has not been the same player the last couple of years.

Is that going to keep Williams in town? He already said he will opt-out o his deal and test the market. We know that the Mavericks in his hometown of Dallas can offer him a max deal (less than the Nets can offer, but a pretty penny) for him to come and play next to Dirk Nowitzki.

And this is where it gets frustrating — to get Wallace they gave up their first round pick for this season. Here is how Nets GM Billy King explained that one, via Nets Daily (and Tom Ziller):

“This trade was really done to get us a small forward,” King said, “a former All-Star, somebody to give us some great defense, versatility, someone to play hard …” As for protecting the pick only #1 through #3, King said following conversations with their scouts, the team did not see any immediate-impact players beyond their projected top three in next year’s draft.

That is short-term thinking. If you can’t get a player who can help you in a couple years drafting about No. 7 (in what is considered the deepest draft in years), you are doing it wrong. In a few years, when Wallace is somewhere else and that pick the Blazers has is a steady part of their rotation, Nets fans will howl.

Rightfully so.

Russell Westbrook threw it down all over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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A rough night for the Thunder will not stop the Russell Westbrook highlights.

The Thunder had another poor game and fell to a Hornets. Westbrook tried to push the team back, but the Thunder defense that has kept them in games all season was not good enough against Charlotte, and the OKC offense was once again up and down.

Westbrook had 30 points on 22 shots on the night, and none of them were as impressive as this transition throwdown on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Jahlil Okafor excited about fresh start with Nets

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jahlil Okafor finally got the fresh start he wanted.

Okafor was the consensus No. 1 high school player in his class, won a national championship at Duke, and averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his rookie campaign for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then things changed drastically.

Okafor struggled with injuries and a logjam at his position in his second season.

“When I first got drafted there, we already had Nerlens (Noel) there, Joel (Embiid) was there, so we’re trying to have three starting centers on the same team,” Okafor said Monday at his introductory news conference with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets.

“It just never really was the right fit.”

The 76ers traded Okafor along with seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas and two draft picks to the Nets on Thursday. Philadelphia got forward Trevor Booker from Brooklyn.

Okafor also had off-court problems during his time in Philadelphia. He got a speeding ticket for driving 108 miles per hour and was suspended by the 76ers for two games after in an altercation outside of a Boston nightclub with a heckler.

“Speeding obviously is illegal,” Okafor said. “I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do. I guess you just learn how the page can turn on you and how everything can flip. I can’t really say I learned anything, because you know going in that’s not right. You just learn from your mistakes, but (it was) a tough thing that I went through, I got past, and I’m looking to better times now.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, joins D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the same draft class, on the Nets.

“We’re just very excited to get on the court together,” Okafor said. “You never would’ve thought the number two and number three picks would be playing on the same team a few years after, but like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited.”

Russell also had problems on and off the court with the team that drafted him. He was criticized for recording a video of former Lakers teammate Nick Young that aired sordid details about Young’s private life. The Lakers gave up on Russell and drafted Lonzo Ball as his replacement.

“I feel like we’re similar in that we have a lot to prove,” Okafor said. “I know he’s working his (butt) off as well. Right now he’s rehabbing, trying to get back on the court. I think we both have a chip on our shoulder and we have a lot to prove. We’re definitely similar in that regard.”

Okafor understands he has areas to improve, mainly defense and rebounding.

“I’m not a perfect player,” Okafor said. “I’m 21. There are things that I need to work on, that I have worked on and that I’ll continue to work on.”

He’s excited about fulfilling his potential with a new team.

“I feel really motivated right now, but I’ve always been motivated,” Okafor said. “This is the first time where people are against me in a sense because I’ve always been the hyped-up guy. It’s something new for me to experience, so I’m glad that I am experiencing it.”

 

Report: Celtics’ Marcus Morris to miss “extended time” to let knee heal

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Marcus Morris missed the Celtics’ first eight games of the season in an effort to get healthy. Upon his return he’s been solid, first as a starter, then coming off the bench, but his left knee continued to be an issue.

Morris was out Sunday when the Celtics beat the Pistons, and he’s going to miss more time trying to get a troublesome left knee right, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

How much time is “extended time?” Probably at least a couple of weeks.

Morris has averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game this season, with a true shooting percentage of 52.5, which is right around the league average.

This could mean more run for rookie forwards Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis, both of whom have played well in limited minutes.

Tristan Thompson expected to return to Cavaliers Tuesday, come off bench

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could play for the first time since Nov. 1 on Tuesday against Atlanta.

Thompson has been sidelined with a strained left calf. The team initially said Thompson would be out for up to four weeks, but he said Monday that timeline was inaccurate and that his injury was more serious. Thompson did not divulge any other details about the injury.

Coach Tyronn Lue says Thompson will not start when he returns, meaning Kevin Love will remain at center. Thompson says he’s fine with a reserve role and made it clear he’s willing to do whatever Lue needs.

The Cavaliers have won 14 of 15 and their defense has improved dramatically over the past month.

Thompson says he’ll have the same mindset on the floor as always and “just be myself. Being myself has worked out pretty well for me.”