Can They Do It?

Are the Nets positioned to reach Prokhorov's goal of a title by 2014-15?

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(Total votes: 6,260)

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BIG-TIME UPGRADE

Mazzeo By Mike Mazzeo
ESPNNewYork.com
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Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov said before last season's playoffs that his Brooklyn Nets needed one more good player and time to make a really strong team.

On Thursday night, GM Billy King did Prokhorov one better and agreed in principle to acquire two good players: future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

As a result, the Nets have better positioned themselves to fulfill Prokhorov's lofty five-year championship plan in Year 4.

Coming off a 49-win season, the Nets added Garnett and Pierce at the expense of Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and Tornike Shengelia.

Talk about an upgrade.

The Nets projected starting lineup -- Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, KG and Brook Lopez -- has played in a combined 35 All-Star games.

Good luck defending them.

Obviously, the Miami Heat are still the team to beat, and the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls should be formidable, but it looks like -- at least on paper, anyway -- the Nets are right there with them.

The Nets have a talented, veteran core. Pierce and KG add a winning pedigree, leadership and toughness to the roster.

They're going to have some obstacles. Jason Kidd is a first-year head coach. They're old and aren't going to have a lot of time to develop chemistry. But you have to figure this squad will be able to overcome those obstacles because they'll be hungry to capture a title.

However, as long as LeBron James resides in the Eastern Conference, it's going to be tough. But the Nets are much better positioned to knock off James today than they were yesterday.

Maybe Prokhorov won't have to get married -- his self punishment if the Nets don't win a championship by 2015 -- after all.

Mike Mazzeo covers the Nets for ESPNNewYork.com

OLD NEW GUYS

Begley By Ian Begley
ESPNNewYork.com
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Did the Nets make a major upgrade to their roster on Thursday night? Of course they did.

Did they improve their standing in the Eastern Conference? Sure.

Billy King's deal to bring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn gives the Nets -- on paper -- the upper hand in the East River Rivalry and makes them more of a threat to win the NBA title.

But I still don't see them fulfilling Mikhail Prokhorov's goal of winning a championship by 2014-15.

Why? Well, for one, the Miami Heat are still in the way.

Pat Riley has indicated that he intends to keep the Heat's core intact next year. So, they are an immediate favorite to win the 2013-14 title. And while many assume that LeBron James will test free agency next summer, it's hard to see him walking away if Miami wins another crown.

So, it's reasonable to expect the Heat to be intact for the final two years of Mikhail Prokhorov's grand plan.

Here's another factor that may hinder the Nets: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are old. Really old. It's easy to forget that in the euphoria of a blockbuster trade. But these two guys are the same two stars who "led" the Celtics to the seventh seed in the East last season and seemed to be one J.R. Smith elbow away from being swept by the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

There's something else to consider. Chemistry isn't instantaneous in the NBA. As we've seen over the past few seasons in Miami, Los Angeles and New York, throwing a bunch of stars together on the same roster doesn't guarantee success.

It may take some time before Pierce and Garnett can coalesce with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and, to a lesser extent, Brook Lopez.

Throw in the fact that the Nets have a first-year coach in Jason Kidd, and there are plenty of unknown variables here.

While there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic if you are a Nets fan, I wouldn't be so quick to order those championship t-shirts.

Ian Begley covers the Knicks for ESPNNewYork.com