After the Miami Heat finished their first morning shootaround at the Barclays Center, they offered differing takes on what’s different about the Nets. The consensus was that the offense is not any different from what they ran in losing by a combined 43 points in two games in Miami in the first month of the regular season.
Depending on who you listen to, it was either a matter of time for new parts to develop chemistry or it was a matter of not playing hard for Avery Johnson, who was let go after 28 games on Dec. 27.
“Time,” coach Erik Spoelstra said at the morning shootaround. “We’ve been there before. Add new players and you add talented new players and you pull them into a team concept, more often than not it doesn’t happen right away. It’s a microwave society and in sports in particular, the results have to be now but it takes time to build chemistry, to build trust and to build chemistry.”
“People don’t want to hear that, but that’s just the reality. Very few times in this league has it ever been put together and it happens immediately. I look back to the Celtics and that was one of the very few times that it happens. Usually when you revamp a team and add more than five new players, it’s going to be a process whether you want to hear it or not.”
For superstar LeBron James, the reason for the slow start under Avery Johnson was replaced with P.J. Carlesimo after the Nets were 14-14.
“They’re not doing anything different,” James said. “They’re playing with I would say more passion. They’re playing more together and like they want to play for the coach. It sucks that Avery had to take the hit at them not wanting to play at a high level but that’s what it looks like to me. They just picked it up in intensity level and you can tell they like to play for P.J.”
Lopez named to All-Star team
Many felt Brook Lopez was snubbed last Thursday when the reserves for the All-Star Game were revealed and he was not included. For the Nets and their fans, that problem was rectified when Commissioner David Stern announced Wednesday Lopez would replace injured Boston point guard Rajon Rondo on the Eastern Conference team.
“It’s a huge honor,” Lopez said in a statement issued by the team. “First and foremost, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They make my job a hundred times easier, playing with Deron [Williams], Joe [Johnson], Gerald [Wallace]. They gift wrap me buckets and take a lot of attention away from me on the court. It is something I have been waiting for and it’s been a goal of mine and it will definitely be an exciting weekend.”
“I think it’s great,” Carlesimo said. “Obviously we were pulling for one of our guys when Rajon went down. We were hopeful. We had three candidates, two at the guard [position] and Brook. Whatever the commissioner’s rationale was, we like it.”
Rondo was voted by the fans to be the starting point guard Feb. 17 in Houston, but will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. The East team already has Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday at point guard.
Lopez is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks this season. He also ranks fourth in the NBA with a 25.24 player efficiency rating, an advanced statistic which measures efficiency on a per-minute basis.
Lopez missed seven games with a sprained right foot in early December, but has reached double figures in 23 straight games.
“If anything it’s [a] positive and I think the recognition has to make you feel good and it has to help you from a confidence standpoint,” Carlesimo said “I think it’s validating and hopefully it’s a positive thing going forward. He should be proud, very proud, because he’s made a commitment first of all coming back from the injury but secondly in two areas that we asked him to work on. He’s so much better defensively than he was and he’s making a much more concerted effort to rebound.”
Prokhorov attends game
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov attended last night’s game and also will attend Friday’s home game against Chicago. According to general manager Billy King in an interview with NBA.com, Prokhorov is in New York to discuss the team’s 13-4 record under Carlesimo.
The Nets are believed to be interested in bigger names at coach such as Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy according to reports and in the interview King said it was just to discuss the state of the team.
“From the beginning, he’s just made me feel comfortable and said just go coach the team,” Carlesimo said. “I don’t feel a need to or anything like that. I don’t think he’s coming in to see me. I think Miami and Chicago might have had something to do with that. So I think that I’m here is nice, but I don’t think he was sitting in Moscow the other day, going ‘I’ve got to see P.J.’”
Spoelstra’s link to dark period
Believe or not, Spoelstra has a significant connection to a piece of Nets’ history. His father, Jon, was the team president from 1993-1995 when the Nets struggled on the court with the likes of Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson, Chris Morris and Jayson Williams.
At the time, Spoelstra was finishing up college in Portland before heading to Germany. He joined Miami in 1995 and started as the team’s video coordinator before succeeding Pat Riley as coach in 2008.
“That was a transition period for them and I don’t remember a whole lot about it,” Spoelstra said. “I was in college and overseas when he took over. I was a Portland Trail Blazer fan and obviously there was a lot of changes being made at that time.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.