The Knicks play in one of the biggest cities in the world, in the most famous arena. And as of now, the Knicks have a better record than the Nets and even beat them yesterday 106-97. But for some of the biggest names in this summer’s highly-touted free agent class like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – the Nets might be the better short-term and long-term option.
Neither ‘Bron, D-Wade or any of the top free agents have strongly indicated that they are leaving their respected homes. But assuming they are looking for a change of scenery, particularly in the New York-region, there are two teams there that have the pockets and cap space willing to make that wish happen. But which one is a better option?
On the outside, playing for the Nets is like the NBA’s version of a jail sentence. They were the sports world’s punchline last week by starting the season 0-18, which is the worst start in league history. Then they play in the outdated and never sold out (they currently rank 27th in attendance) IZOD Center. Wasn’t it even nicknamed the Swamp? Plus, they have they have a coach, Kiki Vandeweghe, who has two more games of head coaching experience than you and I. The Knicks, on the other hand, play on the league’s biggest stage in front of celebrities on a nightly basis. They have a coach that most players in the league want to play for (minus Nate Robinson). And if you are that A-list player or players that they happen to be targeting, they will build their team solely around you.
But if I were one of those free agents trying to choose between the two New York area squads, I’d have to go with the Nets. Though they’re struggling now, Jersey arguably has a better young core that has more potential. All-Star Devin Harris is one of the fastest point guards in the league and can score with the best of them, as well as create for his teammates. Behind Dwight Howard, Brook Lopez could be the second best center in the East. They have a bunch of promising young, fast and athletic wings like Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams and Chris Douglas-Roberts. I would take a lineup of LeBron, Lopez, Lee, Bosh and Harris over LeBron, Wilson Chandler, Bosh, Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas.
On top of the players the Nets already have on board, you also remember that they will most likely have a very, very high draft pick. And if they score the top pick, you can add Kentucky freshman sensation John Wall to that up-and-coming young core. Unfortunately, the Knicks can’t say the same, as they owe their almost guaranteed lottery pick to the Utah Jazz from a previous trade. Plus, the Nets are a couple of million dollars under the cap than the Knicks, giving them a little bit more flexibility. Yeah, Vandeweghe doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but even if he doesn’t pan out, as GM, he can easily return to the front office and hire someone else. Kiki is a brilliant GM, who helped turn around the Nuggets earlier this decade.
As for the stigma of playing in Jersey. Nets players are just a river across from the nightlife and the action in Manhattan. In fact, a lot of former Nets like Richard Jefferson stayed in NYC while playing for the Nets. And remember, the Nets are planning to move to Brooklyn in 2012 in the Barclays Center – the state-of-the-art arena that is in the works.
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