The Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has been criticized following the Nets early playoff performances. Whether it is his rotation or not drawing up anything creative on offense to get his star duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving open shots, it is earned criticism. But, Nash is not the only one taking a share of the blame. General Manager Sean Marks has also been ripped for some roster-building decisions this week.
On the April 21 episode of First Things First on FS1, host Nick Wright commented on his belief that Steve Nash is “running Kevin Durant into the ground” by playing him such extended minutes since March. However, he gave part of that criticism to Marks’ roster moves.
“But you know what? Sean Marks has built a team that has no other forwards. Have you noticed that, by the way?” Nick said. “The Nets have their starters, and then off the bench, there’s (Nic) Claxton, who replaces Drummond, (Goran) Dragic, and (Patty) Mills. What are we missing here? Oh yeah, any other forward! They waived James Johnson!”
Nets Waive James Johnson
On April 7, Brooklyn waived the 13-year veteran forward James Johnson to make room on their roster for rookie Kessler Edwards. Johnson was a favorite in the Nash rotation during the regular season, logging nearly 20 minutes per game. In that time, he averaged 7.7 points per game and nearly 4 rebounds per game. But he also brought a veteran presence and 24 games of playoff experience.
The move gave Edwards an NBA contract rather than continuing on his two-way contract in which he splits time between Brooklyn and the Nets’ G-league affiliate in Long Island. Edwards has appeared is currently averaging 3.5 minutes a game this postseason and not a major role in the rotation.
While the Edwards signing was a move for the future and locking up the young prospect, it looks to have hurt them so far this postseason.
Nets Playoff Rotation
Also missing from the Nets postseason rotation are veterans Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. Both have yet to take the floor during postseason play. Johnson, who could have been a veteran in the rotation had he not been waived, could have helped in the platoon to guard Celtics forwards Jason Tatum or Jaylen Brown. His length, defense, and mobility would certainly be better options than Edwards, Griffin, or Aldridge.
So does Sean Marks harbor some responsibility for this? Sure. He built a big three with Irving, Durant, and James Harden that didn’t turn out, and while the Ben Simmons injury was not expected to go on so long, there was no plan or adjustment for if he didn’t come back. In fact, the only adjustment that was made was waiving a possible useful defender and rotation player in James Johnson for a rookie two-way player.
What happens for the rest of the postseason or even transactions in the offseason are yet to be seen. But we can surely expect the finger-pointing going on around the Nets organization to accelerate. Expect them to point in many different directions. Some may point to Nash. Others may point to Marks. Or as always, people will point to the stars in Irving and Durant. Where you point or choose to follow is up to you, but if the Nets fail to advance with the most skilled duo in NBA history, they have surely underachieved.