- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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Training camp is a little more than a week away.
But already there have been plenty of Nets practicing inside the friendly confines of the PNY Center in East Rutherford, N.J.
“They’re excited. They know we have a chance to do something special,” GM Billy King said Friday. “I think all of them have sort of like a little chip on their shoulder somewhat, because at different points of their career they have all sort of been knocked for one thing or another.”
King is right. Just take a look at the criticisms thrown around when it comes to his roster:
Deron Williams: D-Will is coming off arguably the worst season of his career. And after signing a max contract, he’s under a lot of pressure to prove his worth as a franchise player.
Joe Johnson: Johnson’s 31, owed $89 million over the next three seasons and looking to shed the “Iso-Joe” label he’s been given on offense. It’s going to be J.J. Against The World.
Brook Lopez: Who cares if he averages 20 points a game? He can’t rebound or defend. How did he get max money again? Lopez is coming off an injury-plagued campaign in which he appeared in just five contests. He’s supposed to be 100 percent. A future All-Star? We’ll find out.
Kris Humphries: He’s averaged double-doubles the past two seasons. Still, Humphries is more known as a celebrity than a basketball player.
Gerald Wallace: Four years, $40 million for a 30-year-old with the nickname “Crash?” Even if he is a consummate pro and possesses several intangibles, it doesn’t seem like a smart deal.
Andray Blatche: Do we even need to go here? Why would you want this malcontent on the roster? So what if he has talent? Bad idea.
There’s no question these Nets can score, but can they defend? Can they rebound? How long is it going to take them to mesh? Are they a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference or a borderline playoff team?
By putting in extra work in the gym, the Nets are hoping they can emphatically answer all those questions.
8hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
7dESPN Stats & Information
7dMarc Stein and Mike Mazzeo
21dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford