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NBA Coast to Coast: Brooklyn Nets' season resembles a Russian novel

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov's $183-million roster has produced a flood of injuries and a 3-9 record. It's a dark, gloomy story line.

November 23, 2013|By Ben Bolch
  • The Nets's high-priced talent -- (from left) Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce -- hasn't made much noise this season other then it's thud of a record.
The Nets's high-priced talent -- (from left) Deron Williams, Brook… (Joshua C. Cruey / McClatchy-Tribune )

Bring out your dead

The Brooklyn Nets' season is unfolding a bit like owner Mikhail Prokhorov's favorite work of Russian literature.

Anyone who has read Nikolai Gogol's "Dead Souls" knows that's not a good thing.

The novel starts with its protagonist, Chichikov, spending lavishly to buy the "dead souls" of the townspeople's serfs in a convoluted get-rich-quick scheme that quickly unravels.

Prokhorov is paying about $183 million in salary and luxury taxes for a fossilized roster that is hemorrhaging players as injuries and defeats mount. Dead souls actually might be more productive.

Costly acquisitions Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have already been sidelined by injuries, as have high-priced holdovers Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. All four players sat out a recent loss to the Clippers.

Even when they're together, something's amiss. The Nets have struggled to integrate their new stars into the offense and their defense is giving up 102.5 points per game, making Garnett's preseason goal of holding teams to 80 points seem laughable.

Rookie Coach Jason Kidd has looked as uncomfortable as one of his tight-fitting suit jackets. Reporters have had to strain to hear his whisper-quiet voice in pregame scrums and it seems as if Kidd is barely there during games, the coach largely staying seated on the bench.

A players-only meeting after a home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday didn't make any difference as the Nets went on to lose to the Charlotte Bobcats and the Minnesota Timberwolves to fall to 3-9.

"We created this monster," Garnett told reporters Friday after scoring only eight points in the 30-point defeat against the Timberwolves. "We've got to deal with it."

So does Prokhorov, whose championship ambitions will be hard to sustain with his team at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.

Freaky Friday

Three teams had to contemplate losses much bigger than an on-court defeat Friday.

The Chicago Bulls were worried they may have lost Derrick Rose — again — to a devastating injury after the star guard's right knee buckled against Portland. Rose already missed an entire season after tearing a ligament in his left knee, and tests on his other knee Saturday showed a torn meniscus that will require surgery.

The Memphis Grizzlies watched Marc Gasol, the NBA's reigning defensive player of the year, clutch his left knee in agony before departing a game against the San Antonio Spurs. Gasol was diagnosed Saturday with a sprained medial collateral ligament that will sideline him indefinitely.

Already missing Stephen Curry because of a concussion, the Golden State Warriors were deprived of his replacement at point guard, Andre Iguodala, when the former All-Star felt a pop in his left hamstring and limped off the court against the Lakers.

"My body has been pretty good at taking care of me," Iguodala told reporters, "so I'll be back sooner than people think."

Here's hoping that's the case for all three players.

—Ben Bolch

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