Avery Johnson On The Nets: “We’re Not A Championship Team”

It’s not often that an NBA head coach denounces a likely playoff team so presumptively, but here you have it. Avery Johnson, head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, spoke honestly about his team’s chances in the upcoming season. Despite adding Joe Johnson and re-signing most of the team’s big pieces, he’s still not uber confident. Here’s what he had to say, via the Dallas Morning News:

Deron was a big key to the whole puzzle,’ Avery Johnson said. ‘To be able to acquire some other talent through free agency or trades or re-signing some of our own guys, it’s pretty exciting for us. We’re not there yet. We’re not a championship team. We got a lot of work to do. But at the same time, we have a much better talent pool than we’ve had the last two years.

‘We’re much more versatile than we’ve ever been. Right now, we look good on paper. Now we got to take it from looking good on paper and apply the work to go (forward).'”

Honestly, he’s probably right. Brooklyn will definitely be in the playoff mix, and that offensive trio of Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams will be very lethal. But most people expect them to fall to another one of the playoff contenders (Philly, New York, Chicago), or at the latest to one of the true contenders (Miami, Boston, Indiana).

But the bigger question here is whether that’s a viable strategy for Johnson as coach of his team. It’s conceivable that the Nets could find themselves in the Conference Finals against Miami, if only because no other team is so starkly better than them. So to dismiss that possibility seems a bit absurd with the Eastern Conference not particularly top heavy. Then again, setting realistic expectations might lessen the blowback if Brooklyn truly isn’t that good, and might open up Prokhorov’s checkbook to maneuver around the bevy of long-term contracts they’re currently saddled with.

Ultimately, though, isn’t it better to build confidence at this point instead of draining all expectation and hope before training camp?

[Dallas Morning News, via PBT]

Are the Nets championship contenders?

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