The Brooklyn Nets open training camp in about a week at HSS Training Center after one of the most chaotic offseasons in some time for the organization. After a summer of will they or won’t they in terms of trading superstar Kevin Durant, the Nets managed to convince KD to rescind his trade request and remain with the franchise.
With Durant remaining in the fold, Kyrie Irving here for at least one more season and Ben Simmons presumably ready for the upcoming year, the Nets return as one of the favorites to contend for an NBA title. However, that has been the case for the Nets for several years now and they have fallen short of those lofty goals each time.
When camp opens on Tuesday, the work begins and there will be plenty of questions still surrounding the team. Here are three big questions facing the Nets heading into camp.
How much did last season motivate them?
Forget the chaotic nature of everything that occurred from the middle of May to the end of August, the Nets had already been in a state of flux when their season came to an unceremonious end in the first round of the playoffs. The Nets were swept out of the postseason by former assistant coach Ime Udoka and the Boston Celtics which really highlighted the team’s differences on the court.
Durant did all that he could to try to lift his side to wins during the four games, but Irving was relatively quiet during the series and Ben Simmons never touched the court, despite a few false starts. It was ultimately the tipping point that led to the offseason craziness.
“It was meant to happen like that,” Irving said during a recent interview on the BOYZ NIGHT podcast. “Motivation, bro. We needed it. We needed that humbling experience, especially going against the Celtics. It was already built in to be that matchup.”
Irving has said that he has been working hard during the offseason, and in the final year of his contract that will be an additional motivating factor this season. Durant has been working out plenty as well this offseason and he is already back in Brooklyn and working out at the Nets’ facility.
The Ben Simmons factor
One of the key pieces in the blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, Ben Simmons still has not made his Nets debut. That is expected to finally change this season and by all accounts Simmons is heading into camp in a good place with his back.
The Nets have shielded him away from the spotlight, but he has been spotted at Liberty games over the summer and social media images have shown him working out at the Nets Brooklyn complex.
“Simmons has been cleared for three-on-three basketball activities following back surgery in May, and he is on track to be cleared for full five-on-five activities in the coming weeks, league sources say,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported in late August.
However, it wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve heard Simmons was on the right track only to have the situation change drastically. His health will be a big question as the Nets hope to get their new Big 3 acclimated with one another when camp opens.
Can Steve Nash get the job done?
Nets ownership has committed to both head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks, especially after it leaked that Durant pushed for their ousting. Joe Tsai stood by the two, but for Nash, the questions surrounding his abilities as a coach will be there to start the year.
There was plenty of fodder about his job security after Brooklyn was eliminated from the playoffs and it became quite clear that Nash struggled to make the needed adjustments during games. The question now is, in year three as an NBA head coach can he learn from his mistakes to guide the Nets to a title?