Knicks welcome back Carmelo Anthony, who shows eternal love for his former team

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

The New York Knicks are looking to snap a streak of poor play against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, who will be without LeBron James after getting into a scuffle with Isaiah Stewart of the Detroit Pistons over the weekend. James was suspended for one game, so he will miss the anticipated matchup against the Knicks, with both holding similar records. The Lakers are .500 on the season, and the Knicks are just one game above an even record.

However, the team is looking forward to welcoming back Carmelo Anthony, who joined LA this offseason at 37-years-old. Anthony is contributing 15.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and shooting 46% from deep over 6.4 attempts per game, the highest mark of his career. Carmelo is actually experiencing somewhat of a resurgence in the shooting category, contributing heavily to the Lakers despite their deficiencies on defense. The Lakers have only kept one team this season below 100 points, so the Knicks have a great opportunity to right their offense, especially within the starting team.

“I always look forward to playing at the Garden, playing in front of the fans,” Anthony said,  via the New York Post. “With the Knicks or against the Knicks. That love is different. That fan base is different for me. It goes deeper than basketball. They embrace me. I embrace them.”

Anthony spent seven seasons in New York, becoming the face of the franchise despite management’s inept to build a proper team around him. Carmelo expressed his love for the city and the unbreakable bond he’s created.

“I don’t think the bond between myself and New York City will ever go anywhere,” Anthony said. “That’s why I embrace it the way I do. I’m looking forward to [Tuesday]. The crowd — the Knicks are playing great basketball. They have good energy up there. We know how [Tom Thibodeau] teams are. They’re a very tough team. We know we have to come in and put our hard hat on [Tuesday] night. It will be great to get a win at the Garden. I’ll tell you that.”

Melo went on to offer some words of encouragement for the Knicks, indicating his appreciation for signing Kemba walker this off-season.

“I love the signing with Kemba,” Anthony said. “I don’t know what took Leon so long to get that done. It was like perfect timing. He had an opportunity to get out of [Oklahoma City] and Leon jumped right on it and brought Kemba in. New York native, home, had a lot of success in the Garden in college. He’s from The Bronx. This is home. I know the feeling that he’s playing with. I know what he’s dealing with being from here and putting on the uniform. I’m glad Kemba is home.”

Despite Walker struggling up to this point, the hope is that he will end up being a productive and electric scorer as the team continues to build chemistry and gel. Considering the Lakers’ poor defense, this would be a great opportunity to take advantage and get right before Thanksgiving.

Knicks News: Carmelo Anthony reunion nearly happened, Randle wants to bring Championship to New York

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

The New York Knicks were extremely active this off-season, signing familiar faces preparing to hit the free-agent market and bringing in new talent to replace those that didn’t make the cut.

Impending free agents like Elfred Payton and Reggie Bullock simply didn’t offer enough value to earn a second contract with the Knicks, as they elected to spend money and upgrade both spots with Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. The Knicks were connected to some of the brightest players in the league during the rumor mill months, but they nearly reunited with one legend from the past, Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony, who ended up signing a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, spent last season with the Portland Trailblazers, averaging 13.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and shot 42% from the field. Melo connected on 41% of his three-point shots, showcasing he still has shooting efficiency on his side, despite being 36-years-old.

Playing in 69 games last season, averaging 24.5 minutes, Carmelo still has gas left in the tank, but his career is slowly coming to an end. He is far removed from his younger years when he averaged nearly 30 points per game with the Knicks in 2012, but the front office saw him as a potential piece on a cheap contract.

Instead, he will join a stacked Los Angeles team where he will pair up with Anthony Davis and LeBron James, living out the rest of his career with championship aspirations.

The Knicks elected to retain Alec Burks and draft youngster Quentin Grimes to provide scoring production from range. All-Star power forward Julius Randle is convinced the team has taken a big step forward, and the process of accomplishing success has been a long time in the making.

Randle told Ian Begley of SNY that “everything is a process. We’ve been building this from the ground up. But for me, personally, winning a title in New York is the expectation.”

It is clear the organization is dialed in and on an upward trajectory, which is far more than we can say for the past few years, if not decades. Having established talent and youth on the rise is exactly the situation the Knicks want to be in, and they’ve only added more this off-season to help boost their chances of making a deeper postseason run compared to their 2020-21 season when they were knocked out in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks.

Knicks reunion among Carmelo Anthony’s options during free agency

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

After the Portland Trail Blazers moved on from him, Carmelo Anthony considered a reunion with the New York Knicks.

In Chris Hayne’s podcast on Monday, Anthony revealed that moving back to New York was among his options in the free agency before the Los Angeles Lakers offer came along.

“It was (hard) because I had just moved and bought a house in New York, Anthony said. “It was unexpected. My son starts school (today) in New York. So it was like, I’m here, I’m home. I never expected the Lakers to call.”

While Anthony said he’s been spending summertime in Los Angeles for more than a decade now, moving his family there never crossed his mind.

Anthony, a Brooklyn native, spent some of his prime years with the Knicks and led the team to the playoffs in 2013.

The Lakers were the Knicks’ rivals during their two championship runs in the 70s. The spotlights of Broadway and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood made them the two biggest markets in the NBA.

“I don’t know if I was ready to do that because that’s a big shift. When you wear the purple and gold, that’s different. Even in New York, when you wear the blue and orange, that’s blood. That runs deep. It’s the same way as the purple and gold. It’s just at different sides of the country,” Anthony said.

Anthony said he was in constant communication with Portland’s stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He was waiting for the Trail Blazers’ call that never came. So he thought he’d move back to the east coast.

“I made [Portland] almost like a home for me. Within two years, I felt like I was a part of that community,” Anthony said. “New York was always there. Coming back to New York was always a story. I’ve always told my son when he goes to high school, I’ll be right there with you. The New York thing made sense.”

Anthony would have added more firepower to the Knicks’ bench that already has Derrick Rose and the pair of electrifying sophomores Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin.

Aside from the Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Pelicans also showed interest.

“I didn’t really get a chance to really converse with Philly, but there was interest there,” Anthony said.

He then revealed that Philadelphia’s stars Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris reached out to him, but he never had the chance to talk to them as the Lakers scooped him up before the Sixers did.

The opportunity to chase a ring with his good friend LeBron James and Anthony Davis was too good to pass up, but it was never an easy decision.

“Having a great chance to win [was what made me decide to join the Lakers]. It took me some days to really like sit down and kind of break it down and really dig deep into making that decision,” Anthony said.

“To most people, it probably would have been an easy decision to make. But to me, it wasn’t. I really have to align a lot of things and put things in order for things to work out, for me to feel comfortable to be away from my family for another year and the kids not being there. People don’t understand that part. That’s the hardest part. The basketball (part) is easy.”

Anthony was linked to the Knicks when his former agent Leon Rose became the team’s president. But the former Knicks star said the interest wasn’t mutual.

“At this point, it wasn’t really a lot [of consideration],’’ Anthony said in the summer of 2020. “The Knicks were making moves and were trying to figure out the direction they wanted to go in. They weren’t done making moves. I’m sure they have a plan. I don’t think me coming in and trying to mess their plan up was good for either party.”

“They are rebuilding and figuring out what’s in their near future. It was me personally wanting to be part of a situation I was already comfortable with. I just finished playing with these guys two, three months ago. I felt it was the right fit at this point of time where I’m at right now this particular year.’’

Then the Knicks made a surprising run to the playoffs and have positioned themselves to make another serious run this season with the addition of four-time All-Star Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.

What a difference a year makes.

The Knicks suddenly became an attractive destination to Anthony again until Hollywood pulled him away from home.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Report: Knicks targeting Carmelo Anthony as potential free agent acquisition

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

The New York Knicks have been connected to various big-name free agents, but one veteran offers a familiar face to MSG. 37-year-old Carmelo Anthony has seen interest by president Leon Rose, who has a long-standing relationship with the 10x All-Star.

Having represented him at CAA, Rose is keen on potentially bringing Anthony back to New York after averaging 13.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and shooting 42% from the field last season with the Portland Trailblazers. Carmelo remains a solid three-point shooter, connecting on 41% of his shots over 4.7 attempts per game. He only started three games last year, averaging 24.5 minutes, but can still act as a solid rotational piece who can contribute offensively.

Ultimately, New York is desperate for more offensive production, especially with several players preparing to hit the open market, including Reggie Bullock, Alec Berks, and Derrick Rose. With three primary shooters potentially on their way out, finding cheaper veterans will be ideal for solving a few deficiencies. In addition, Anthony’s experience will help mold some of the younger players, a positive contribution that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The last time Anthony wore the New York Knicks logo was back in 2016 when he was 32-years-old. It has been five years since he’s played a meaningful game at Madison Square Garden, and with the team looking to make another playoff push this upcoming year, there’s no question he can provide some value. However, he doesn’t offer much defensively, which goes against Tom Thibodeau’s strategy. Nonetheless, asking him to provide offense when called upon is his best utility.

Anthony is coming off a one-year, $2.56 million deal with Portland, so he would be quite cheap to bring back. The expectation is that Burks and Bullock will both receive pay increases this off-season, but given Anthony’s age, the Knicks could secure his services on a very cheap contract.

Cam Thomas is eager to prove he’s more than a scorer I LSU star opens up about meeting with Tom Thibodeau, Knicks

LSU star Cam Thomas is an elite three-level scorer. Will the New York Knicks take a flier on him after a solid workout and meeting?

Cam Thomas is an irreverent scorer. He has irrational confidence reminiscent of the late Kobe Bryant, a cold-blooded scoring assassin in the NBA who went down to become an all-time great.

It’s not hard to see why he wears No. 24 because he grew up idolizing the late Laker legend. Now, he has shifted his eyes on Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker, a known Black Mamba disciple on top of his other current favorite NBA players.

“Throughout the NBA playoffs, I’ve been watching Devin Booker,” Thomas said on Monday during his NBA Draft media availability.

He’s been paying attention to his footwork, the way he glides in the perimeter, and creates space for himself and others. He watches how he launches his threes.

“I like to pick up some of his moves in the midrange and just really trying to look at his game because we play very much alike and similar,” Thomas said.

Aside from Booker, he’s watched a ton of Kyrie Irving and James Harden and a little bit of Bradley Beal. “I really watch those guys a lot and take from them the most,” Thomas said.

This draft class’ microwave scorer has paid attention to the star bucket getters while scouts have often compared him to Lou Williams, a role player whose instant offense off the bench won him three Sixth Man of the Year awards. While it has some weight to it after emerging as a prolific scorer in LSU and nothing much else, Thomas says he’s more than just a three-level scorer.

“I feel like those analyses were totally wrong. It’s just the system I was in. I feel like nobody really knows the room for [my growth] as a player. I’ll just keep going and prove them wrong. I feel like I can do that [in the NBA] because I’ve done it before,” Thomas said.

As LSU’s go-to guy, Thomas led all NCAA freshmen with a 23.3-point scoring average. It was the fourth-highest scoring average by a first-year player on the LSU team behind only Pete Maravich as a sophomore in 1967-68 (43.8), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf as a freshman in 1988-89 (30.2), and Bob Pettit as a sophomore in 1951-52 (25.5). His 22 20-point games were the most 20-point games of any LSU player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992. He had 16 games of at least 25 points, the most by an SEC freshman in the one-and-done era or since 2006.

But despite those accolades, Thomas isn’t viewed as a lottery pick because of his perceived tunnel vision. He averaged 3.4 rebounds and just 1.4 assists.

Thomas insists he has more to show, and that was just a product of the system he was in college.

“[I wasn’t able to show] really playing without the ball in my hand. I feel like I can do that at the next level,” Thomas said. “Again, getting my teammates involved. I really didn’t show that in LSU because my role is to be the primary scorer. I feel like when I get to the NBA, I have to show that first and then build from there.”

Thomas has always been a scoring machine. He left Oak Hill Academy as the program’s all-time leading scorer surpassing Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. But buried under those eye-popping 26.2-point and 31.5-point scoring averages in his two years there were the identical 3.4 assists he dished out per game.

“I feel really good about [my playmaking],” Thomas said. “Being a scorer kind of opens up for me to make plays for others because everybody worries about me putting the ball in the basket and scoring. Me just having that skill helps up my other skills as far as making plays for others. I just try to attack and get quick buckets.”

Sure, some teams need bucket getters. One of them is the Knicks, who struggled to score when they reached the NBA playoffs for the first time in eight years.

Thomas had the Knicks’ attention. He’s one of the many prospects they invited at their Tarrytown practice facility in New York. But they’re also one of the few teams Thomas met ahead of the NBA Draft. So far, Thomas has met with the Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, and the Memphis Grizzlies aside from the Knicks.

“I met with the Knicks, which was my second workout like a few weeks ago. It went really well,” Thomas said. “I see myself fitting in with the Knicks because I was told they needed a bucket getter, a player who can make plays at the end of the shot clock in a game, it’s just a closer type so I see myself coming in, being the scorer I am, I can help the team.”

Thomas can provide an instant boost to a Knicks offense that relied heavily on Julius Randle last season. The LSU standout came away from that meeting, believing he could have a bright future with the Knicks if ever they pick him.

“Coach Thibs was in the meeting so we talked about the good stuff and it was really a good conversation. I don’t know everybody. But it was a good dialogue.” Thomas said. “I feel like I can fit in really well because he believes I can fit in his system and I feel like I can shoot so… we’ll see on Thursday.”

As he prepares for the NBA Draft on Thursday, Thomas continues to work on his game in between the teams’ workouts trying to improve on everything from scoring to rebounding and playmaking. But on top of that, he’s got two priorities.

“[I’m] just trying to get into shape as much as possible. You’re never in too much shape so I’d like to be in top shape so I can be on the court without being tired. Trying to lock in on the ball defensively, I keep working on that and just those two things. I wouldn’t call those weaknesses because it’s just mental stuff,” he said.

Thomas is a certified bucket getter, but he’s eager to prove he has more to offer.

While he has the late Laker legend’s scoring instincts, his irrational confidence comes from his strong work ethic and military discipline cultivated by his mother, Leslie Thomas, an army veteran.

“I put in a lot of work and for how much I’ve put in, I should be confident,” Thomas said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Julius Randle becomes first Knick to win NBA Player of the Month since Carmelo Anthony

julius randle, knicks

Julius Randle’s best NBA season yet has reached another new level.

After being named to his first All-Star Game and getting recognized with a Player of the Week honor recently, Randle got another feather on his cap.

Randle was named Eastern Conference’s NBA Player of the Month after leading the New York Knicks to an 11-4 record in April.

The Knicks’ hottest stretch in eight years saw Randle averaging 27.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.2 steals with 44/43/86 shooting splits. In that span, he had two 40-point games and seven games with at least 30 points.

He is the first Knicks player to average at least 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists, and 40 percent on three-point attempts in a calendar month, per Elias Sports Bureau.

The Knicks have won nine straight in April and have stayed hot, winning 12 of their last 13 games to firm up their hold of the fourth seed in the East with seven games left in their schedule.

Randle beat Washington’s duo Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, Atlanta’s Clint Capela, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Cleveland’s Darius Garland, and Boston’s Jayson Tatum (BOS) in the East. Stephen Curry was named the Western Conference Player of the Month.

The 26-year old Randle became the first Knicks player to win the award since Carmelo Anthony did it in January 2014. Anthony made it twice as a Knick, while Patrick Ewing won the award five times during his illustrious run with the Knicks, making Randle just the third player in franchise history to get the award over the last 35 years.

This will not be the last time Randle will be recognized for his quantum leap this season. The Knicks’ All-Star forward is the frontrunner to win the Most Improved Player of the Year and is in the conversation for one of the All-NBA teams and perhaps can squeeze a few MVP votes.

Randle acknowledged the MVP conversation though he made it clear his focus is on leading the Knicks back to the playoffs after seven years of misery.

“For sure, I’m not going to shy away from it,” Randle said after he scored 28 points in the Knicks’ 14-point win in Memphis. “For me, it’s about getting better from game to game, improving as a player. I’m not focused on it. The praise obviously is great and everything but I’m not focused on it. For me, all I’m worried about is getting better, keep leading the team from game to game. Like I said before, our team, I feel like we can compete against anybody.”

The Knicks (37-28) currently have 1.5 games lead over the Atlanta Hawks (36-30).

Randle will have a chance to bolster his resume when the Knicks square up with the Denver Nuggets and MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic on Wednesday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks deny Carmelo Anthony a historic moment at home, climb to 6th spot

Carmelo Anthony was one of the league’s brightest stars when the New York Knicks were still relevant.

Anthony returned to The Garden on Saturday as one of the league’s elder statesmen. The Knicks denied him a historic moment while they continue their rise back to relevance.

The Knicks (11-13) climbed to the sixth spot in the East after turning back the Portland Trail Blazers, 110-99, for their second consecutive win.

Needing only 13 points to catch Oscar Robertson in the NBA scoring list at No. 12, the Knicks vaunted defense held Anthony to just a single field goal after exploding for 22 points in Portland’s big win in Philadelphia last Thursday.

Even Portland star Damian Lillard’s return from an abdominal strain couldn’t help the Trail Blazers break down the Knicks’ stingy defense.

Lillard had a game-high 29 points but couldn’t score in the last 3:28 as New York staved off Portland’s late rally.

Elfrid Payton picked up from where he left off in Chicago, while Immanuel Quickley had a timely mini spurt in the fourth quarter.

Payton was a steadying force at the point of attack for the Knicks. He finished with his second straight 20-point performance with 22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Quickley had 12 points in 13 minutes, including seven in the early moments of the fourth period that restored order after the Blazers got within five.

Julius Randle continued playing at an All-Star level with 22 points, including four clutch free throws that sealed the win.

In one pivotal moment in the third quarter, he barrelled his way against Anthony and buried a jumper over his outstretched arms—a passing of the torch moment.

Anthony was the last Knick to play in the All-Star game. Randle is poised to be the next one.

The current do-it-all Knicks’ forward added 11 rebounds and four assists for his 16th double-double of the season.

Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks combined for six of the Knicks’ 13 triples in a total team effort.

The Knicks will have another acid test tomorrow against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.

Anthony, who waxed nostalgic and heaped praise on what Tom Thibodeau has done so far for the Knicks, saw first hand what it’s all about.

It starts with defense.

The Knicks held the Trail Blazers to their second-lowest scoring performance this season.

Unlike in their 116-113 loss in Portland, the Knicks didn’t play catchup basketball this time. They were in control for most of the game and played like a playoff team.

It was sweet revenge.

And it came at the expense of Anthony, their former franchise player and the last symbol of Knicks playoff basketball.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Carmelo Anthony details why Knicks weren’t even considered in free agency

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

Going into his 18th season in the NBA, former New York Knicks sharpshooter Carmelo Anthony was rumored to possibly make a return to Madison Square Garden. Anthony, who spent seven seasons with New York and played in 412 total games, found a new home with the Portland Trailblazers this past season. He led them to the playoff bubble, and while they didn’t reach the finals, the team is getting stronger and could make it even more prominent run this upcoming campaign.

During Melo’s time with the Knicks, he averaged 24.7 points per game, 3.2 assists, 7.0 total rebounds, a .443 field goal percentage, and .369 percentage from beyond the arc. Altogether, he was phenomenal in New York, representing their best player for many years. However, the Knicks are back to square one and trying to rebuild their roster with youth.

Did the New York Knicks try to rekindle a relationship with Carmelo?

“At this point, it wasn’t really a lot [of consideration],’’ Anthony said on a Zoom call Friday, per the New York Post. “The Knicks were making moves and were trying to figure out the direction they wanted to go in. They weren’t done making moves. I’m sure they have a plan. I don’t think me coming in and trying to mess their plan up was good for either party.”

Melo has a point, the Knicks are looking to go in a different direction under a new head coach Tom Thibodeau and President Leon Rose. While they failed to lure any max-contract level players to New York, they acquired ample draft capital for the future and secured two quality players in the draft.

Carmelo always knew he was going back to Portland, where he feels he can be competitive and push for a title at 36 years old.

“It was something I always felt I would be back and coming back,’’ Anthony said. “It’s something we discussed after the bubble. It was always a part of the plan. The decision wasn’t tough. The only thing tough was figuring out the direction the organization was going and how they saw me being a part of the organization. If it was a just a one-time thing last season or all parties felt the need we needed to do [again]. We came to that agreement.”

Carmelo Anthony wants to stay in Portland but Knicks, Nets could still be in play

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony sported the New York Knicks colorway during the pregame and postgame of his final game this season.  But the Brooklyn native insisted that he wants to return to Portland next season.

Speculations of the 36-year old Anthony returning to New York for the last stretch of his career ran rampant once Leon Rose, his former agent, took over as the Knicks president. Fuel was added more to the fire when Mike Woodson, Anthony’s former coach in New York, was reported this week to be finalizing a deal to return as one of Tom Thibodeau’s assistants.  But Anthony made his intentions known to return to Portland as soon as his comeback season ended in a 131-122 Game 5 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

 

“In my mind, I’ll be right back in the fray of things when next season comes,” Anthony said in his postgame interview.  “I pray that it can be Portland, I think I found a home in Portland.”

This is Anthony doubling down on his January statement that he wants to retire in Portland.

“I got comfortable with the organization. I got comfortable with the guys on the team. They got comfortable with me,” he added.

With a renewed confidence, Anthony averaged 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists during the regular season. He more than proved his value to the Blazers in the Bubble where he hit two clutch shots during their wild run to the playoffs.

Anthony capped his comeback story this season with a vintage performance, logging in 27 points on 9-16 shooting, including 3 of 4 from deep while adding seven rebounds and one assist in a losing effort against his longtime friend and rival Lebron James.

Despite a disappointing end to Anthony’s otherwise magical season, the performance became a validation for the 10-time All-Star who returned to the league with a chip on his shoulder.

Anthony, who was out of the NBA for more than a year, revitalized his career in Portland. He came in to plug a hole in the injury-riddled roster and he’s exceeded expectations and outvalued his veteran minimum contract.

Along the way, Anthony was able to repair his tarnished reputation following his ugly exits in both Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.  He showed he could co-exist with younger stars.  He even claimed that Damian Lillard is the top guy he’s ever played with.  After their loss to the Lakers, CJ McCollum described Anthony as “fantastic” while Portland coach Terry Stotts said he felt honored to coach him.

“At this point in my career, I do think that that’s the best fit for me, the best situation. Especially having this experience now and kind of just getting my feet wet, coming in, and being who I am and staying true to myself. I really hope that it can be Portland at the end of the day where we give ourselves a chance to keep this team together, get guys healthy, and get another run at it,” Anthony said.

The feeling may be mutual but returning to Portland next season is easier said than done from a financial standpoint and the new team optics moving forward.

The Trail Blazers already owe almost $110 million salaries to 10 players next season.  They also have to decide whether to bring Hassan Whiteside and Trevor Ariza back. Unless Anthony is willing to accept another veteran minimum contract (Portland can pay him 120% of his current veteran’s minimum contract if over the cap, otherwise, they use cap space to re-sign him for more) to play a reduced role next season, his dream of returning to Portland might remain just a dream. Rodney Hood and Zach Collins are expected to eat up on Anthony’s minutes once they return from their injuries.

The Knicks, if the rumors are true, could offer a larger one-year or a two-year deal and a more significant role in a young team in need of a veteran presence and outside shooting in the three and four spots.  Or Anthony could ride the sunset and make a grand Brooklyn homecoming. Teaming up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a much lighter path in the East to chase a ring could also be a good situation at this stage of his career.

Brooklyn Nets: History is Meant to be Learned From

New Jersey Nets, Kenny Anderson

Owner Mikhail Prokhorov came in guns blazing following his purchase of the New Jersey Nets in 2010. With brash promises to fans including his infamous “five-year guarantee,” there was immense pressure from the start to build a contender. 

Rather than rebuild around young all-star center Brook Lopez, Prokhorov decided he wanted to make a splash.

This desperation was first displayed in 2011 at the February trade deadline. Looking to acquire Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, the Nets were eventually outbid by the Knicks. Refusing to be overshadowed by his crosstown rival, Prokhorov turned around and dealt for star point guard Deron Williams, who at the time, was considered a premier point guard in the game. To facilitate the deal, the Nets needed to part with all-star point guard Devin Harris, promising former third overall pick Derrick Favors, as well as two likely lottery, picks in years to come. 

Williams was close friends with Dwight Howard, and the two immediately became enamored with the idea of teaming up. Finding a way to acquire Howard would vault the Nets into instant title contenders. The Nets offered four first-round picks and franchise cornerstone Brook Lopez for Howard, but Orlando declined. Content on waiting until Howard became a free agent to sign him, rather than deplete assets, the Nets pulled out of talks. On one fateful plane ride, Howard changed his mind. 

Former Magic guard JJ Redick detailed how casual this decision was. 

“you know what, I love you guys. I’m coming back. And really, that was it! That was it! There was no, like — there wasn’t a heart-to-heart, it was just he was having a good time on the plane and decided he wanted to come back.”

In the blink of an eye, the Nets needed to turn their attention to alternate ways of building a contender around their superstar point guard. 

The 2012 trade deadline marked the Nets’ first desperate attempt to come back from missing out on Howard. A last-minute deal saw the Nets land high-energy forward Gerald Wallace in exchange for negligent pieces and a top-three protected first-rounder. 

Ben Falk, a former Blazers analytics manager, wrote last year on his site Cleaning the Glass that when Portland realized the Nets not only wanted Gerald Wallace badly but were willing to give up a top-three protected first-rounder for him, “My heart hit the gas pedal.” 

That quote has aged like fine wine, contrary to the trade. That draft pick fell at sixth overall and was used to select superstar point guard Damian Lillard. Maybe you’ve heard of him. 

This theme of casual dumping of draft picks for veterans who did not move the needle continues to haunt the Nets to this day. In a salary dump that saw them expel the roster of Troy Murphy, the Nets threw in a second-round pick to sweeten the pot. That pick became Draymond Green. 

The move to Brooklyn in 2012 came with added expectations as it was Prokhorov’s big promise being delivered. The franchise became more marketable and immediately was thrust into a rivalry with the Knicks, who were coming off a successful season that saw them land in the second seed in the Eastern Conference on the backs of Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. The Nets, hoping to compete right away, re-signed Williams, Wallace, and Lopez to deals that would cap-string the team, and traded for Joe Johnson, another high-priced star who was exiting his prime. The trade was contingent on the re-signing of Williams, as Johnson held a no-trade clause and would only be willing to leave if he knew he was going to be playing for a contender. 

The first season with this new core ended in a bitter disaster. After showing promise en route to a 49-33 finish, earning home-court advantage in the first round, the Nets were shocked in the Barclay’s Center in an intense game seven after blowing a 2-1 series lead and a seemingly insurmountable game-four lead that was decimated by Nate Robinson catching fire in a way he hasn’t at any other point in his career. 

The pressure continued to mount for Porkhorov and general manager Billy King. This reached a tipping point on draft night in 2013, when desperation led to the final blow for a Nets roster that had been building disaster for the better part of two years. 

The Nets moved on from four draft picks and offered two pick-swaps, among other pieces, in exchange for 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, 36-year-old Paul Pierce, and 36-year-old Jason Terry. This left the Nets with a roster with championship aspirations, but marginal room for error. Every former star needed to perform exceptionally, which did not quite pan out. Instead, the next two seasons became a script for the concept of Murphy’s Law. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. 

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge gave a statement following the trade in regards to Brooklyn’s desire to push for a championship. “So, Brooklyn showed a great deal of interest in putting a Dream Team together at any cost,” he said. 

This desperation left the Nets with little leverage, and thus had every asset possible pulled out from their disposal and fast-tracked the Celtics quest to rebuild. 

When blended together, the Nets five stars were consistent in one thing: underachieving. Williams struggled with injuries, Garnett and Pierce struggled with declining performance related to age, and Lopez was unable to find a role in the offense, which had been just about the only thing keeping him afloat in his career. Johnson provided late-game heroics and consistent clutch performances, but past his prime, he was unable to carry the lineup past Lebron James and the Miami Heat. 

This era came to an abrupt ending, with Pierce leaving after one year, and Garnett being openly unhappy with his long standing running mate. Trading away Garnett for Thaddeus Young left the Nets with nothing from the 2013 trade that gutted their assets, after only 1.5 seasons. 

In the summer of 2015, Williams’ was waived using the stretch provision. This marked the end of his tumultuous tenure with the Nets, one that was defined by inconsistencies and a failure to take the grips of a franchise in need of a savior. Half a season later, Johnson was bought out, ridding the Nets of all of their vaunted starting five except for Brook Lopez, who found himself in a similar position as before the team acquired Williams in the first place. But even Lopez ended up falling victim to the blow-up of the roster, as the team traded him for frustrating headcase D’Angelo Russell, who had a world of potential but couldn’t figure it out under the tutelage of Magic Johnson and the Lakers. 

This era in Nets history will always be remembered with embarrassment by fans, as the toxic culture of the team made them difficult to root for and hard to watch. That being said, if it weren’t for these mistakes, the current roster would not have been possible to obtain. Prokhorov backed off and let his front office do their jobs, completing a full rebuild, and now, even after he has sold the team, the contender he thought he had back in 2013 has taken shape.