The Clippers and the Nets played each other once already this season, less than a month ago. You might think I wouldn't have a lot of additional questions for Dennis Velasco from SB Nation's NetsDaily blog, since we last spoke. But it turns out that the Nets are quite the soap opera, and there's PLENTY to talk about.
Steve Perrin: Since last we spoke, all hell broke loose on the coaching staff. There's was obviously a falling out between rookie head coach Jason Kidd and his top assistant Lawrence Frank. Now Frank has been banished from from practices. I've literally never heard of such a thing, and I've been following the NBA for a LONG time. Don't they have to buy Frank out and just get him out of there? Or is it possible that they want to keep him under contract in case they decide to fire Kidd and then they'll hand the reins to Frank? Either way, it's pretty effed up, right?
Dennis Velasco: The whole situation is effed up and when it first happened, I thought Jason Kidd was being egotistical, something he has every right to be as a player, but as a coach? Get out of here. The main reason I was okay with the Kidd hiring was because he'd have excellent assistants in Frank and John Welch, the both of whom I looked at like defensive and offensive coordinators in football. So, obviously, when Frank was demoted, my liking of Kidd as coach went down fast, an admittedly reactionary way to look at it.
However, since then, there have been stories and hints that things went really deep on this relationship between Kidd and Frank, both of whom were friends off the court. Allegedly, Frank would overstep his bounds and act as the head coach, not allowing Kidd to make any sort of mark on the team. His voice was diluted and the players allegedly said as much, saying that they wanted to hear only one voice, not two. So, it basically became a battle of egos and, personally, I thought Frank may have came back a bit more humble seeing as he just got fired by the Detroit Pistons and the Brooklyn Nets were making him the highest-paid assistant in the league, especially when you consider he was still getting money from the Pistons. But, I guess not. So, my appreciation for Kidd as a coach has gone back up a bit because you have to at least give it up for him throwing his cojones out and telling Frank that the Nets were Kidd's motherf*c*ing team.
So, where is it now? Well, both parties are lawyering up and a buyout is surely inevitable. It's good something like this happened early in the season and while the team is still working to get healthy and build that ubiquitously desired chemistry. It would have sucked if this stalled out during a playoff push or run.
SP: My favorite 13 letter word is serendipity. What's yours?
DV: Zombification... it's both the initial and final state I'm in when in the process of writing.
SP: Paul Pierce broke his hand less than two weeks ago, but returned to action much sooner than expected wearing a protective glove. He came off the bench in his first game back, and Kidd seems to be entertaining the idea of leaving him there for the time being at least. What are your thoughts on Paul Pierce, Sixth Man? I might have gone with JJ myself.
DV: I actually kind of love the idea of Pierce coming off the pine as the sixth man. He's a natural leader, something that Joe Johnson isn't, and considering that his play has diminished to whatever degree this season because of still being stunned at not being in Boston or simply age, working against an opposing team's second unit could be an excellent remedy for him to get back into being "The Truth" as opposed to "The Half-Truth."
Doc Rivers recently said that Paul Pierce needs more minutes to become effective and I'm all for it. But, let's get him warmed up against bench players before he eventually does that Paul Pierce thing in the fourth quarter, when he should definitely be playing, particularly in close games. For both him and Kevin Garnett, the shots they usually take and make just aren't falling. But, they're not horrible shots either for the most part. Soon enough, I have faith that Pierce will be hitting his usual elbow shots and coming off the bench is probably the best way to get it going.
SP: Deron Williams has missed 11 games this season -- every time he makes it back on the court, he twists his ankle again. He returned to action on Tuesday and had easily his best game of the season. Should the Clippers be worried? Is DWill back for reals?
DV: A one-game sample is too small to really say if Deron Wiliams is back. However, he returned to the court with more quickness in his step than I expected. He was very aggressive driving in and hitting shots in the box area. Defensively, he actually looked like he had great instincts in going through picks and getting to a spot before an opposing player did. I was really surprised. D-Will really looked like the D-Will that finished last season super strong after the NBA All-Star break.
Of course, all of this can be tenuous as it's generally not a good idea to come back so quickly and not at 100 percent. I can't say if Williams was at that level the other night, but it's not like he hasn't rushed back previously only to get hurt again. If D-Will is in fact healthy, however, then yeah, he'll be Deron "For Reals For Reals" Williams.
SP: Silver lining me, broseph. What's the best news from a dismal Nets season so far?
DV: The five core players for the Nets have only played 78 minutes together all season. So, for 21 games that comes out to 78 out of 1008 possible minutes. Of course, this is only a good thing because it explains, I think for the most part, as to why the Nets stink this quarter-mark of the season. Add in Andrei Kirilenko's injury woes and that's even more reason on why the team stinks. So, this is like a bittersweet answer.
On a genuinely positive note, Mason Plumlee has been a revelation, bringing great energy and superb athleticism (something the Nets don't have much of) off the bench. Many thought he'd spend a lot of days with the D-League Springfield Armor, but with his quickness, jumping ability and length, he's found a solid spot on the team.
And, Kidd is adapting. It doesn't always work, but he's trying (soda spilling aside) and has actually shown flashes of possibly being a really good coach. It'll just be a matter of consistency and keeping guys healthy. But isn't it like that for every team, no?
Thanks to Dennis for his great insights. There's clearly a lot of talent on this Brooklyn roster, and at some point they're going to start playing well. We the citizens of Clips Nation give you full permission to go on a real tear -- starting tomorrow.
Remember to head over to NetsDaily to see what they're saying about the game.