Last night, under the cover of the NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets pulled off a heist, stealing Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, other spare parts, and 3 first-round draft picks.
The Nets’ lineup overnight became one of the most dangerous in the NBA, a potent mix of scorers and grinders who will aim to lead the Nets to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2003.
Of course, the Nets will not play a game until the fall, leaving the rest of the summer for analysts and fans to hype the rotation to no end. A similar phenomenon occurred last year when the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
Although many believed the super squad of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Nash, and Howard were primed to meet the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals, the Lakers were a massive disappointment. They finished as the eighth seed in the Western Conference after a regular season filled with mistrust and turmoil and were swept by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs.
This sort of disappointing season is a definite possibility for the newly-formed Nets, as it is with any team formed by blockbusters and mega deals such as the Nets. Let’s take a look back at several other big-name teams to see how they fared in terms of regular season and playoff success.
1996-1997 Houston Rockets
Coming off two consecutive championships, the Houston Rockets made a big move in the offseason, acquiring Charles Barkely from the Phoenix Suns to team up with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. While the Rockets went 57-25, they lost in the conference finals to a Utah Jazz team they had beaten in the prior two years to get to the Finals. Despite being on a team with two other Hall of Famers, Barkley didn’t win a ring in 1997, and would finish his career without a single championship.
2007-2008 Boston Celtics
The success of this mighty team, which was carried by the main two players in the Nets-Celts deal, bodes well for the Nets. Boston mainstay Paul Pierce was joined by Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics to form the somewhat original “Big Three.” As PG Rajon Rondo developed mid season, the Celtics won 66 games. The Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals, reaching their full potential their first year together. Although the Celtics never won another title in the KG-Pierce-Allen era, they experienced playoff success every year until this past season.
2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers
Karl Malone and Gary Payton, two surefire Hall of Famers without rings, joined a Lakers team which had completed a three peat from 2000-2002 but lost to the Spurs in the 2003 playoffs. Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and the aging stars formed a formidable quartet. The Lakers reached the NBA Finals fairly easily, but the Detroit Pistons upset the super squad. Although Payton won a ring with O’Neal and Dwyane Wade on the 2006 Miami Heat, Malone would never win a ring.
2010-2011 Miami Heat
Hatred poured in after the events of July 8, 2010. Lebron James made “The Decision” to “take his talents to South Beach” and join Wade, Chris Bosh, and the Miami Heat. After hosting a welcome party that was pure Miami, people were even angrier. Amidst much drama, the Heat got the 2nd seed in the East with a 58-24 record and fought their way to the NBA Finals. There, the Dallas Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki shocked the world by beating the Heat in 6 games. While this was an unpleasant setback for the Heat, they have recovered quite well, winning two straight NBA titles since the loss. The Heat and Nets should be jostling for top seeding in the East all season this year.
It is hard to tell what sort of team the 2013-2014 Brooklyn Nets will be before they play a single game, but they have the potential to be one of the highest-scoring groups in NBA history. Fans will have to wait and see if they live up to that potential like the 2008 Celtics or fail like the 1997 Rockets.