Nets fading in re-shaped East? Seems it

Nets fading in re-shaped East? Seems it
July 13, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Last offseason's Celtics-Nets trade is looking more and more lopsided by the day.

As if Boston didn't get away with highway robbery as it was, trading away Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and an overpaid Jason Terry for a handful of Nets, Gerald Wallace's contract, Keith Bogans' non-guaranteed deal and three first-round pick (2014, 2016, 2018, and the choice to swap picks with the Nets in 2017), the Nets are looking even worse off now.

Pierce is out of Brooklyn after just one season with the team - a hefty price paid by Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov for such a short stay.

Pierce will reportedly sign a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards, somewhat of a surprise. That's right - move over, Obama! The original thought was that Pierce would re-sign with the Nets, and if not there, perhaps team up with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles if the money worked out.

But it turns out Sam Cassell, Pierce's former teammate during their 2007-08 championship season and current assistant coach on the Wizards, had a little more say in Pierce's future than we knew. And with Pierce out, Brooklyn's legitimacy as a contender - which was already a stretch going into next season - appears over.

Washington isn't a bad fit for Pierce at all. There's certainly a need for him there now that Trevor Ariza has signed a four-year deal with the Rockets. They've got young talent as well as proven veterans, too.

But what the heck happens to Brooklyn? Does Kevin Garnett stick around? It sounds like he will, but man, he might not be the happiest NBA player next season. Not even close.

That's partly because the Nets aren't exactly getting better. They're becoming more "financially responsible", according to GM Billy King, - and rarely does that equal more wins.

But is there a chance the Nets miss the postseason all together? It's not too crazy of an idea. They'll be without a key member of their team in Pierce and also Shawn Livingston, but have added Jarrett Jack. They also hope Brook Lopez's will return will give them a boost. Still, questions remain over their roster. Can Derren Williams stay healthy? Does Garnett have anything left?

Let's take a look at the best teams in the East for a second:

The Heat take an obvious hit by losing LeBron James, but they're still a playoff team with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Loul Deng, a couple of other solid players.

The Pacers are hoping to get a deal done with Lance Stephenson, but are a playoff team regardless.

The Raptors are still the best team team in the Atlantic Division - which isn't saying much, but still.

The Bulls missed out on Carmelo Anthony, but get Pau Gasol and a healthy Derrick Rose (knock on wood) back. They'll be fine.

The Wizards are considered by some to now be the best team in the East, and just added Pierce.

The Hawks should be better, especially with a healthy Al Horford.

The Cavaliers will certainly make the playoffs with James now, and the Pistons were huge underachievers last season. Could those two teams potentially knock out a couple of playoffs teams from last season, including the Nets?

It'll be interesting to watch it all unfold. Boston doesn't have the Nets' 2015 first-round pick, so no matter how terrible Brooklyn is this season, it won't matter much to the C's. However, this downward trend that the Nets may go on - one complete with a lack of spending - makes that 2016 pick that Boston does own really valuable.