With a new NBA season comes new optimism for every team, and that is especially the case for the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. Both New York City-based teams are coming off incredibly disappointing campaigns, with the Nets being swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs and the Knicks not reaching the postseason. Now, there is a renewed sense of optimism in the two organizations, with new players and coaches creating higher expectations.
The Nets’ offseason was one for the ages, with superstar Kevin Durant publicly requesting a trade after just three years with the team. There was also concern over the status of All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who had a player option in his contract that could let him leave the team as well.
After strong campaigns from owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks, however, both Irving and Durant are back with the team and fully committed to competing for a championship.
Despite the wildness that was the Nets’ offseason, the team was still able to add Royce O’Neale, T.J. Warren, Edmond Sumner and Markieff Morris, four players the team is looking forward to see playing with Durant and Irving. Brooklyn also has reinforcements in the form of Ben Simmons and Joe Harris, two key players who were injured for the majority of last year.
Simmons was acquired in the blockbuster James Harden trade back in February and is someone Brooklyn is expecting to carry the load on defense, an area that has been a weakness for the team since the late 2000s. Harris is still recovering from ankle surgery, but when he is healthy, he is an excellent role player who is one of the best three-point shooters of all time.
Perhaps the biggest offseason addition to the Nets was coach Igor Kokoškov, who coached for the Dallas Mavericks last season. Around the league, Kokoškov is known as an offensive innovator, and he displayed that genius through the Nets’ four preseason games. The new offense features Simmons handling the ball while Durant and Irving play off-ball, a much needed change from last year.
The Knicks, despite lacking the superstar lure of Brooklyn, have reestablished their culture thanks to executive Leon Rose. The team brought in guard Jalen Brunson from Dallas on a massive four-year, $79 million contract after his breakout playoff run to the Western Conference Finals. They were also able to extend center Mitchell Robinson and franchise cornerstone RJ Barrett, the third overall pick of the 2019 NBA draft.
Although the team took a step back last season, the roster is perfectly balanced with veterans such as All-Star Julius Randle, Evan Fournier and former MVP Derrick Rose, as well as youthful talent like Miles McBride, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes.
The front office displayed how highly they think of their young players after refusing to trade for superstar Donovan Mitchell in the summer. Though a championship might not be in the near future for the Knicks, their balanced roster, as well as experienced coaching staff, should make for an incredibly promising season at The Garden.
Photo courtesy of Cyrus Saatsaz, Wikipedia.