Jason Kidd puts target on Heat
ORLANDO, Fla. -- With the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry finally made official Friday, Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd wasted no time setting his team's next target on the defending champion Miami Heat.
"They're the blueprint, they're the champs, they won it twice in a row, [and] they could have won it three times in a row," Kidd said Friday. "They put that team together to try to win championships, and they've had a lot of success. So if you want to compete with them, you've got to have the horses. And I think we have that."
When the Heat were put together, there was talk of going undefeated. They didn't get off to a great start, but they found a way to win back-to-back championships. We're not the Miami Heat, but we [also] feel that we can compete at a high level. With that being said, there's going to be a lot of eyes on us.” -- Nets coach Jason Kidd
Kidd spoke for the first time Friday about those high-profile additions to the Nets' roster after the league finally cleared the trade that sent Garnett, Pierce, Terry and D.J. White to Brooklyn, with the Boston Celtics receiving Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The Celtics also have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in 2017.
The deal was agreed to June 27, but was held up by minor contract stipulations and could not be made official until after the league moratorium on player movement ended July 10.
Now that the hang-ups are out of the way, Kidd believes the Nets are equipped to challenge for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The trade reunites Kidd with Terry, both of whom were in the backcourt rotation in 2010-11 when the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Heat in six games for the NBA title. Garnett and Pierce bring championship experience to the Nets from two trips to the Finals with Boston, including the title in the 2007-08 season.
But Kidd also knows the Heat clearly have been the class of the conference since LeBron James and Chris Bosh arrived in free agency in 2010 to join Dwyane Wade. Miami has won the conference title each season since.
The Nets also will be chasing a Heat team that brings back just about everyone from this past season's championship run, which included a franchise-record 66 victories, a 27-game winning streak that was the second-longest in NBA history, and a seven-game series win against the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals.
Kidd mentioned the Heat on at least three occasions during a 10-minute session with reporters in Florida, where he made his coaching debut earlier this week in the Orlando Summer League, which wrapped up Friday.
At one point, the Nets' rookie coach compared Brooklyn's star-studded makeover to the overhaul the Heat made three seasons ago. He also said Brooklyn's front office has made it obvious with the roster moves the past two years that the franchise is ready to take a major step to the championship level.
Pierce and Garnett are expected to move directly into a starting lineup that returns Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. That potential starting five has a combined 35 All-Star appearances. The rotation will be rounded out by Andray Blatche, Andrei Kirilenko, Reggie Evans and Shaun Livingston.
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The Nets -- who were upset in the first round of the playoffs this past season by the injury-riddled Chicago Bulls -- have entered title-or-bust territory when it comes to facing lofty expectations.
"It's harder when you're supposed to win," Kidd said. "When you're talking about the best players and the best teams in the world, when you talk about the Heat, you can ask them, it's not easy. We're going to have our hands full. That's the great challenge going into this season. Hopefully at the end of June, we can be the last team standing."
The Nets' high-powered offseason additions have caught the attention of the Heat. Miami team president Pat Riley briefly addressed Brooklyn's revamped roster during a conference call Friday with local reporters.
"What one other team does, it doesn't have any bearing on what we are thinking about," Riley said, referring to potential roster moves the Heat may make this summer.
Kidd said the Nets will have the maturity and experience necessary to accept any challenge they face next season. He's already putting together a plan to manage the minutes of his aging veterans. Kidd joked Friday there would be some nights Garnett, 37, and Pierce, 35, won't find jerseys hanging in their lockers in order to ensure they get rest.
"That's the best way to keep minutes down," Kidd said. "KG and Paul sometimes can be stubborn because they're warriors and want to be out there and help. Hopefully, they'll listen and understand the bigger picture. This should be an exciting time. A lot of times late in your career, you don't have a chance to win a championship. But we do."
Initially, that task might require overcoming some early adjustment issues before a chemistry is established. Kidd pointed out that Miami didn't exactly storm through the league when James, Wade and Bosh first got together. Miami started that 2010-11 season with a 9-8 record that included players questioning their roles and the coaching staff's strategy before they eventually found a groove.
"When the Heat were put together, there was talk of going undefeated," Kidd deadpanned. "They didn't get off to a great start, but they found a way to win back-to-back championships. We're not the Miami Heat, but we [also] feel that we can compete at a high level. With that being said, there's going to be a lot of eyes on us."