Who honestly forgot about the Brooklyn Nets? Yes, those same Nets who were so enthusiastic about their future that their owner Mikhail Prokhorov said these words back in May 2010:
"How fast can we build a championship team? If everything goes as planned, I expect us to be in the playoffs next season and [win a] championship in one year minimum, and maximum in five years,"
So the organization followed the lead of their owner and did what they needed to do to compete for a championship.
A few of the moves they made included trading Derrick Favors, a young and talented prospect, a former all-star in point guard Devin Harris and two first round picks to the Utah Jazz. They exchanged these two players for another all-star point guard, Deron Williams.
Something tells me that somewhere Jazz fans are thanking their old general manager Kevin O'Connor for making that trade.
Then the Nets brought in Joe Johnson who at age 30 was coming off a season where he averaged 18.8 points a game and also was a former all-star. When the smoke cleared and the roster transactions were finished it looked like at one point the Nets had the best backcourt in the league, and then injuries and age caught up to their team.
What was once a backcourt that was loaded with a lot of talented players, is now a backcourt who doesn't even feature one of the players they traded for in their starting lineup.
Those same Nets who made all of their roster moves for players past their prime, including Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, are stuck in the same quicksand as the Miami Heat and need to grab a life line. Plainly, the Nets are in need of a youth movement on their team.
The Nets have already made it somewhat clear that they are looking to move forward from the veterans on the team. But once they attempt to shop around who's one player that could replace the void? Two words, Lance Stephenson.
Stephenson, who hails from Brooklyn, New York is one of the playground legends from the basketball capital of the United States, New York City. He's the all-time leader in points scored in New York State high school basketball, and was given the nickname Born Ready in high school by the legend DJ Bobbito Garcia. Bringing him back to New York for a homecoming would put him in the perfect space to shine.
With the Charlotte Hornets management getting less patient with Stephenson, the Nets could become the team that he finally plays like the all-star that he's destined to become. Thankfully he's 24 years old so if the Nets did manage to trade for him he's still young enough to mature. In addition, working with Nets head coach Lionel Hollins could turn out wonderfully to him.
Hollins is best known for helping turn the Memphis Grizzlies into a playoff team in their last three seasons and is the type of coach who would do wonders for Stephenson's career. He preaches a team first concept and looking at the fact he benches all-stars means he isn't afraid to ruffle feathers with his players.
In an interview with Roderick Boone, Hollins said this speaking about his coaching motives:
"In the pros, I was on three NBA Finals teams. I was on another two or three semifinals and conference [finals] teams. Even just playing other sports, it's always been about the team. Every coach I've played for, all the way back to biddy ball, it's always about the team, and nobody was bigger than the team, and everybody had equal responsibilities for the team's success regardless of what the roles were.
On the other hand for the Hornets they would acquire an all-star shooting guard who's averaging 16.6 points on 44 percent shooting from the floor and 38 percent from the three-point line, 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists per game. Let's not forget that he's represented by the Hornets owner Michael Jordan as one of his Jordan Brand athletes. It would also give the Hornets a backcourt that has experience from a player who is one of the best isolation scorers in the league. They don't call him Iso Joe for nothing.
The Hornets would have a great third option in the offense behind Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, and a player who's a veteran in the league, but still younger than Paul Pierce, while carrying a lot less baggage than Stephenson.
But who knows? The Nets wouldn't want to assemble a team the NBA couldn't handle. Could we see two players on the same team do this?
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