Nets coach says Kevin Garnett will play this season, start in Brooklyn


There were questions about if Kevin Garnett would return this season to Brooklyn since his friend Paul Pierce is with the Wizards and the Nets are not going to be title contenders. I mean, there are 12 million reasons we thought he might come back ($$), but it was possible he decided not to put his body through that one more time and retire.

Nope, he’ll be back — and he’s going to start.

Nets coach Lionel Hollins finally spoke with KG and got the word he will return for a 20th NBA season, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News spoke with Hollins.

Garnett isn’t the offensive force he once was but the Nets don’t need him to be. Well, so long as Brook Lopez and Deron Williams can stay healthy next to Joe Johnson. What they need KG to do is direct the defense.

What Lionel Hollins needs to do is something Jason Kidd did not last season — figure out how to make the team click when Lopez and Garnett are on the court at the same time.

The Nets should be in the crowded middle of the East (making the playoffs but behind the Bulls and Cavaliers). You’ll learn a lot more about what the Nets should look like next season by reading the PBT season preview of Brooklyn.

Wizards sign shooting guard Xavier Silas

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Xavier Silas signed a 10-day contract with the 76ers late in the 2011-12 season. The next offseason, he was playing for their summer-league team when he suffered a nasty head injury that required facial surgery.

It’s been a long road back for Silas, who went undrafted out of Northern Illinois (where he transferred from Colorado) in 2011. After stints in the D-League and overseas, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard is back in the NBA and looking to prove he belongs longer than 10 days.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Silas is not a candidate for the Wizards to waive before the season in order for them to assign them to their D-League team. Washington’s D-League affiliate – the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, who share affiliations with several NBA teams – already holds Silas’ rights.

So, maybe Washington wants Silas just for training camp and nothing more. That’s certainly possible. He participated in the Wizards training camp last year and got cut.

But with just 14 players, they have an open roster spot this time. Silas might have a real chance to make the team.

Glen Rice Jr., who barely played as a rookie last season, is Washington’s only shooting guard behind Bradley Beal. Martell Webster can play the position too, especially if Otto Porter is ready to back up Paul Pierce at small forward. But Webster is probably slightly better suited to stretch the floor from the frontcourt.

That’s a long way of saying the Wizards have room for another shooting guard. As of now, that stands to be Silas, but Washington can still add to its roster and create training-camp competition.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Brooklyn Nets


Last season: The Nets started slowly in Jason Kidd’s first year as head coach, and then things got worse when Brook Lopez was lost to a foot fracture in late December. The team turned things around after the first of the year, however, and finished with a 44-38 record. Brooklyn beat Toronto in the first round of the playoffs on the road in a Game 7, before losing to the Heat in the second round in five games.

Signature highlight from last season: There were plenty of buzzer-beating heroics from Joe Johnson over the course of the season, but no play was more important to Brooklyn than Paul Pierce rejecting Kyle Lowry at the Game 7 buzzer to seal victory in the playoff series.

Key player changes: There have been more subtractions than additions in the offseason. Paul Pierce is gone, after signing with the Wizards in free agency. Shaun Livingston, a key rotation player last season, similarly left to sign with the Warriors. Kevin Garnett is expected back, but hasn’t confirmed that he’ll return just yet. Brook Lopez being completely healthy is likely to be the team’s strongest positive personnel addition, though Jarrett Jack (who was acquired in trade this summer with the Cavaliers) will be important as the backup to Deron Williams.

Keys to the Nets season:

The return of Brook Lopez: Lopez was playing at an All-Star level for the Nets before he went down with the season-ending injury, averaging 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 31.4 minutes per contest. But with him as the team’s primary scoring option, there wasn’t much winning going on — the Nets had a record of just 9-17 at the time. Things changed when the offense shifted to Joe Johnson handling the heavy lifting most nights, but with Pierce gone, the team will need to use Lopez as much as possible as either a primary or secondary scoring option, which could be matchup-dependent most nights.

The direction under new head coach Lionel Hollins: Jason Kidd had his flaws in his first season as head coach, but after a rough start, he got control of the locker room and had his players buying in. Hollins is a different voice, an experienced leader who should be able to command respect more immediately while coming in with a plan and a vision of how things need to get done. That should expedite the transition, but the new coaching staff along with the loss of some key talent may make for a bit of a bumpy start.

It all starts with defense: Brooklyn turned it on in the second half of the season and had a memorable first round playoff series win, but the team was far from special. Statistically, the Nets were middle of the pack in terms of both offensive and defensive efficiency, and played at one of the slowest paces in the league. Hollins was in charge of the Grizzlies when the “Grit and Grind” identity was established, and Memphis was a tough opponent for teams consistently. He’ll demand intensity on the defensive end of the floor where Kidd perhaps did not put as much emphasis, and whether or not that message gets through and how the Nets perform there throughout the season will largely determine their fate.

Why you should watch: If Brook Lopez and Deron Williams are indeed fully healthy, then those two along with Joe Johnson form an All-Star “Big Three” that should entertain on a nightly basis.

Prediction: The Nets don’t appear to have enough firepower on the roster to hang with the most elite teams in the Eastern Conference, but they could find themselves on that second tier if it all comes together. A finish as high as fourth and as low as seventh or eighth in the East seems reasonable.

Brooklyn Nets top 10 plays of 2014 season (VIDEO)

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There are plenty of exciting plays in this compilation from the Nets 2014 season, but ultimately, it might leave fans in Brooklyn feeling a sense of loss.

Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston are heavily featured, and both left this summer as free agents — Pierce to the Wizards, and Livingston to the Warriors.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are still in place, however, and with a healthy Brook Lopez and an experienced new head coach in Lionel Hollins, it’s possible the team can put together an even more successful season — albeit one that will feature a different brand of highlights.

67RIEFNS No. 3: Brad Stevens with NBA experience


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the doldrums of the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

The Celtics made one of the most daring and unexpected coaching hires in recent memory when they plucked Brad Stevens from Butler.

Illinois, UCLA and Oregon couldn’t pull Stevens from his mid-major lifestyle. Born and raised in Indiana, Butler seemed perfectly content remaining in the Hoosier State.

But the Celtics came calling – offering a six-year, $22 million contract – and Stevens listened. Considering by some a prodigy in the profession, Stevens skipped a rung or two on the coaching adder when he went to Boston.

Intrigue was high. Butler always looked extremely prepared, and their offensive and defensive schemes were sound. Could that translate to the NBA?

His first Celtics were… nothing really. They were blandly bad, posting below-average offensive and defensive ratings on their way to a 25-57 record.

That’s not really Stevens’ fault. Boston traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce before the season, and Rajon Rondo spent most of the year injured. The coach was trying to win with too many replacement-level players.

But patience in the NBA is not as strong as in college. Another down season, and people around Boston will begin to wonder Stevens is just another college coach who couldn’t hack it at the next level. Stevens is not on the hot seat, but he must reverse course before he lands on.

The adjustment from the Atlantic 10 to the NBA must have been huge, and it’d be excusable if Stevens needed a season to learn the ropes. Luckily for him, the Celtics seemed fine to lose and land a high draft pick, anyway.

But slowly, expectations will rise. The 37-year-old Stevens must grow with them. That starts this year, his first chance to show his NBA bona fides now that his feet are wet and his roster – like any roster outside Philadelphia – is talented enough to contend for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.