Kenneth Faried scored in double figures for the 17th time this season Friday night as the Houston Rockets embarrassed the New York Knicks, giving them 19 wins in their past 22 games as they get ready to enter the playoffs with a head of steam.
If Faried, Chris Paul, James Harden, Clint Capela and the rest of the Rockets make it all the way to the NBA Finals and knock off whoever comes out of the East, they should cast an extra championship ring for Nets general manager Sean Marks.
Marks, who has done a fantastic job making the Brooklyn Nets relevant again and restocking the draft pick cupboard, now has a team that is in danger of missing the playoffs. Going into Saturday’s game against the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn had dropped into a tie with Detroit for seventh place in the East at 39-40.
With games remaining against Indiana on the road Sunday and Miami at home on Wednesday night, at least one victory is needed for Brooklyn to make it to the postseason. They entered Saturday’s game against Milwaukee with losses in seven of their past 10 games … and the ironic thing is that Marks could have done something to strengthen a roster on which the two of their three best players, Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell, play the same position.
The Nets bought out and released Faried, who had an expiring $13.3 million contract, rather than trade him for someone who could have strengthened their roster, such as Enes Kanter — a player who wanted to stay in New York before the Knicks released him and he joined the Portland Trail Blazers, where he is now the starter.
Faried was in purgatory in Brooklyn, racking up DNP-CD’s as coach Kenny Atkinson used Ed Davis as the primary backup to Jarrett Allen at center.
It was somewhat humiliating to Faried, who was a star for Team USA in 2014 on the squad that won the World Championship in Spain … helping him earn the mega-contract he signed with the Denver Nuggets before he found himself in hoops purgatory.
“It’s been crazy for me,” he said shortly after joining the Rockets. “To be basically traded, go to Brooklyn, be told, ‘You’re going to play; we’re looking for you to come in now and help fill a spot,’ then to be treated like I did. Then to come here and literally embraced quickly. [Houston] was like, ‘We want to play you for real, like this is not a joke; we’re playing you.’ It was like respect.”
Faried said that he felt disrespected in Brooklyn and that he was never given a chance.
“For me, it felt like that. It sucked,” he said. “You’ve just got to either grind and keep trying to go, or fold and say [expletive] it, I’m over it. But I’m not one to fold quick or give up. I’m going to keep fighting.”
Marks has stabilized the Nets and made them an attractive destination for the free agency class of 2019, but if they miss the playoffs they will not be as appealing as they could have been.
Atkinson and his assistants received contract extensions last week, and Atkinson was being mentioned as a Coach of the Year candidate until the recent slide. If Brooklyn misses the playoffs, it will be rewarding mediocrity.
And the guy who will have the last laugh will be the guy who is now running with Harden, sitting in third place in the Western Conference entering Sunday’s full slate of NBA games. The Rockets finish against the Suns and Thunder, and a pair of wins would give them a nine-game winning streak entering the playoffs.
Safe to say Faried will be playing ball a lot longer than his former teammates in Brooklyn.