Nets’ biggest obstacle is trust issues

The networks have talent. But they also have problems.

And that’s why they’re home, long since eliminated from the playoffs, while another quartet of teams are still alive and vying for the NBA title.

Neither Reggie Miller nor Stan Van Gundy — both covering the conference finals for TNT — were willing to give up the Nets’ championship window or call their new Big 3 (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons) flawed. But Miller said the Nets’ wounds this season were self-inflicted, while Van Gundy said their biggest problem isn’t the roster.

“I think they potentially have what it takes to be a good squad. The real problem is that they have problems,” Van Gundy said, changing that to “They have a lot of problems.”

The Nets were swept out of the first round by Boston, who hosted top seeded Miami in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night. The Nets were woefully undersized, had no defense and were injured (Joe Harris and Simmons didn’t play). All three flaws were mercilessly exposed by the Celtics.

But according to Van Gundy — who coached the Heat, Pistons, Pelicans and Magic and guided Orlando to the 2009 NBA Finals — the Nets’ biggest problems may be trust issues.

Stan Van Gundy, who coached the Pelicans last season, said the main thing holding the Nets back is trust issues.
Stan Van Gundy, who coached the Pelicans last season, said the main thing holding the Nets back is trust issues.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

“Over time – Reggie’s been there with teams – will guys look around and really have faith in other guys? Or will they look around and say, ‘You know what, this guy is going to let us down? I know it is him. We can’t count on him,'” said Van Gundy. “And so they have a lot to overcome in that way, which I think might be even more important than the talent they bring to the floor.”

Both Van Gundy and Miller are excited to see what the Nets will look like next season once Harris recovers from his season-ending ankle surgery and Simmons, who has arrived in a trade deadline deal and needs a procedure to to repair his herniated L-4 disc. He finally makes his debut with the team. Both felt the duo would help the Nets’ size woes and Simmons should help shore up the leaky defense.

Irving, Seth Curry and Patty Mills (all 6-foot-2 or under) having to play big minutes together made the Nets positively Hobbit-like against the ultra-tall Celtics. Although, of course, the Nets shouldn’t have been relegated to a 44-38 record and shouldn’t have faced No. 2 Boston in the first round at all.

Durant suffered a costly injury. Even more damaging, however, was Irving missing 53 games by refusing to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, a decision that not only helped James Harden demand a trade (in exchange for Simmons), but it did caused the Nets to plummet to seventh place in the Eastern Conference rankings.

“You’re right about the self-inflicted wounds because Kyrie was a half-time, part-time player. So we’ll never know [what they could’ve done]’ said Mueller. “I mean, they would never have been in a situation where they had to play the Boston Celtics in the first round.

“They would never have been in the play-in situation if Kyrie played 65, 70 games. I just don’t think they’re in that position there. So until we see their roster and a healthy Ben Simmons and a healthy Joe Harris, it’s difficult to gauge them because we don’t know.

After the playoff sweep, Irving – who only played in January and recorded just 29 appearances, just six at home – spoke of the importance of starting team chemistry development “in October” next season to “build trust.” build up” and “build camaraderie” Getting Harris back and Simmons on the ground will be important, but those trust issues are perhaps the most important of all. Nets’ biggest obstacle is trust issues


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