Grading the Brooklyn Nets’ 2021 NBA offseason
After falling short of winning it all last season, the Brooklyn Nets trekked the offseason with one thing in mind: elevate the team to a championship level.
They tried to achieve this mission thru some key signings and re-signings. Nets fans themselves were pumped after the team landed veteran guard Patty Mills and James Johnson. Not just that, but they re-signed Blake Griffin as well. Perhaps the best news of all was that Kevin Durant inked a four-year, $198 million extension. Will these be enough to win that elusive Larry O’Brien trophy? It’s a matter of wait-and-see. What we can do now is to grade the Brooklyn Nets’ offseason.
Perhaps the James Johnson signing is the most lowkey among the Nets’ transactions in the offseason. After all, the 33-year-old has been a journeyman for most of his NBA career. He’s had a few sparks here and there, especially in the Miami Heat’s 2018 playoff campaign and his very short stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2019-20 season. But for the most part, Johnson is the type of player who’s just willing to do what’s asked of him. Perhaps this is his main asset and the main reason why the Nets got him. The team needs someone who’s ready when his number is called but won’t bow his head down if it isn’t.
When Blake Griffin joined the Nets in March, there were some whispers that after one season, the forward will walk out. This was understandable as Griffin was on the tail-end of his career. Perhaps all Griffin wanted was to win a title before calling it quits (note that he also forfeited some $13 million in his buyout with the Pistons). So his brand new one-year deal came as a surprise, but a welcome addition, too. After inking the deal, Griffin said that there’s some “unfinished business.” He also shared that his role will be more defined in the coming season. He knows that gone are the days when he caught alley-oops and slammed it on the heads of defenders. In the coming season, his role is to become some sort of spot-up shooter so as to create space for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.
Getting Patty Mills was one of the best acquisitions by any team. Mills is a veteran, a champion, a leader. He’ll likely be the backup guard for the oft-injured Kyrie Irving — a role he’s very comfortable with. He’ll provide that stability and that leadership that the Nets seemed to lack last season. We cannot discount the fact that Mills is one of the favorite players of legendary head coach Gregg Popovich. Mills carries so much basketball knowledge that not even the likes of Durant, Harden, Irving, and even head coach Steve Nash know. It’s easy to imagine all four of them listening intently to Mills as he shares some words of wisdom.
Durant signing an extension that runs up to the 2024-25 NBA season. This is actually a very big deal since the Nets will likely have Durant up until the former league MVP retires. This simply means that Durant believes that the Nets have the potential. Not just that, but he also trusts in the front office that they’ll continue to build a team good enough to at least remain a contending team in the coming years. For the fans, this means that they’ll continue to see one of the greatest scorers of all-time donning the Nets jersey.
Offseason grade: A+