The Whiteboard: Things keep getting worse for the Brooklyn Nets

Nov 15, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) stands near the team bench during a timeout against the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 15, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) stands near the team bench during a timeout against the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter at the Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

If you thought the Brooklyn Nets had already seen rock bottom, then boy do I have a wild surprise in store for you.

In general, I try to preserve this space for a focus on more positive stories. There are plenty of things to complain about in basketball and schadenfreude is a natural byproduct of the struggles of certain players and teams. But overall, basketball is fun and I try to keep that idea in the front of my mind as much as possible.

The Brooklyn Nets are not fun right now.

They came into this season with their roster largely intact, after being unable to find trades with enough win-win value to satisfy the desire of their two stars to play elsewhere. The grudging acceptance that they were stuck together was fractured by Kyrie Irving’s promotion of an anti-Semitic movie and subsequent non-apology and suspension.

Head coach Steve Nash was fired, in part because he appeared to have lost the support of his players, and the Nets publicly toyed with the idea of hiring Ime Udoka, currently serving a suspension from the Boston Celtics for an inappropriate sexual relationship with a staffer.

On the actual court, they’ve mustered just a 6-9 record, getting outscored by an average of 0.7 points per 100 possessions. Their most recent game was a 31-point loss to the Sacramento Kings where they surrendered a whopping 153 points. And now, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick are reporting that there is ‘building frustration surrounding Nets star Ben Simmons’ availability and level of play.’

Simmons responded with a somewhat nonsensical quote about being a competitor, but the facts are fairly indisputable. He’s only appeared in 10 of 15 games and played just 26.6 minutes per game (although some of that is wrapped up in his ineffectiveness). He’s shooting 47.1 percent from the free-throw line and averaging just 7.0 shots per 36 minutes, less than Juan Toscano-Anderson, Bismack Biyombo or Deandre Jordan. His offensive rebound rate, free throw rate, assist percentage, steal percentage and turnover percentage are all career worsts or tied for a career worst.

What can the Brooklyn Nets do about Ben Simmons?

The most discouraging piece of this whole Brooklyn Nets mess is how few obvious solutions there are. They have invested a lot of time and energy into creating a supportive environment for Simmons. If things are bad enough that this information is making its way to Amick and Charania it’s probably past the point of something that can be smoothed over with team meetings.

Simmons’ trade value has to be as close as you can get to absolute zero at this point, and the Nets don’t even have assets that they could use to pay someone to take him off their hands. Ditto for Kyrie. They have the fifth-oldest roster in the league. They have some incoming picks from the 76ers but those are likely to be much less valuable than the ones they’ll be sending out or swapping to Houston for the next half-decade. Irving comes off their books at the end of this season but the contracts of Durant and Simmons aren’t going to leave them much room for free-agent maneuvering.

Again, apologies for the extended and depressing list here. But I guess the point is, if you want basketball to be fun, maybe stay away from the Nets for the next little bit.

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Memphis Grizzlies get mixed injury news

Jaren Jackson Jr. is back in the lineup for the Grizzlies, but Desmond Bane is out. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. was back on the court for the first time this season after recovering from foot surgery. He played 25 minutes in a Tuesday-night loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The team will be watching his minutes carefully as he works his way back.
  • Before the game, coach Taylor Jenkins said of Jackson: “He’s been relentless every single day in every single phase. Obviously, you want to be maxing out your player development and 5-on-5 in the summer, but you have to do some different things obviously coming back from injury.”
  • It was announced yesterday that Desmond Bane would be out for at least two-to-three weeks with a big toe sprain.
  • The Grizzlies are currently 9-6 and sixth in the Western Conference.

The Kings offense is rolling

As mentioned above, the Kings scored 153 points against the Nets. Here are some of the most important stats from their resurgent offense.

  • The Kings rank second in the league in offensive efficiency, scoring 116.5 points per 100 possessions.
  • The Kings have six different players averaging double-figures, lead by De’Aaron Fox at 24.6 points per game
  • Kevin Huerter is second in the league in 3-point percentage, knocking down 52.6 percent of more than seven attempts per game.
  • The Kings are playing at the second-fastest pace in the league, with their offensive possessions averaging just 13.5 seconds.

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