In the post-opener edition of the Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish, former Net Jeremy Lin — now with the Atlanta Hawks — gets a little wistful.
While the Brooklyn Nets were in Detroit Wednesday night opening their season, a former Net returned to the scene of his greatest success.
Jeremy Lin was at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night with the Atlanta Hawks, scoring eight points with five rebounds, an assist and a steal in 14 minutes in what was his first NBA regular-season action in 364 days.
It was a year ago today, Oct. 18, 2017, that Lin played what would be his last game for Brooklyn. He sustained a ruptured patella tendon in the Nets’ 140-131 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.
In July, Lin was traded with a 2025 second-round pick and the right to swap second-round picks in 2023 to the Hawks in exchange for the rights to draft-and-forever-stash Isaia Cordinier and a 2020 second-round selection.
It was a salary dump, pure and simple. The Nets moved Lin’s $13.8 salary number for this season onto Atlanta in order to create the space to grab an extra first-round pick while taking on the salaries of Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur from the Denver Nuggets.
In this piece by Zach Braziller of the New York Post, Lin is thrilled to be back on the court, but feels there were things left undone in Brooklyn.
"“I always felt like I had unfinished business — I always felt like I was there for an opportunity that never really came. When you’re a player, you put everything into that organization and then whatever they do, however they treat you, is beyond your control.”"
It wasn’t full-fledged fire being spewed at Nets general manager Sean Marks, but the burner temperature was not cold, either.
Lin spent two seasons with the Nets, missing 46 games with hamstring problems in 2016-17 and then playing only 25 minutes last season before the knee injury.
Turnovers the culprit
Greg Logan of Newsday blamed the Brooklyn Nets’ 19 turnovers Wednesday night as a big factor in the 103-100 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Brooklyn made a strong comeback from a 13-point second-half deficit to take the lead twice in the final 4½ minutes. But after Detroit dropped six straight points, the Nets were never able to get back over the hump.
The last of the Nets’ 19 turnovers effectively snuffed out their chances at the win. Trailing 101-100 with 15 seconds left, coach Kenny Atkinson took a timeout and called Caris LeVert‘s number.
LeVert penetrated after getting a pick by Jarrett Allen to work off, but the ball got knocked away in traffic and rolled out of bounds.
Replays showed it could have easily been Brooklyn’s ball, since it first touched Blake Griffin while he was out of bounds, but officials (a) didn’t see it that way and (b) didn’t go to the replay for confirmation, which they can do late in games to determine possession when the ball goes out of play.
Atkinson liked his strategy:
"“I’d draw up the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. He got downhill on (Drummond), Caris to his right hand from the elbow on a switch against their center.”"
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Unfortunately for Brooklyn, it was the sort of finish they grew all too accustomed to last season, when they 5-7 in games decided by three points or less and 12-15 when the margin was five points or less.
3 starters down
In this piece by Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the author cited the fact that three guys who were starters at the end of last season — DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — were inactive for the game and could have made a difference.
The absence of Crabbe was particularly noticeable as the Nets were 5-for-27 from 3-point range. Hollis-Jefferson, meanwhile, could have been a help in defending against Blake Griffin and on the glass, where Jarrett Allen was far too often the lone watchman.
Jared Dudley had the task of trying to slow down Blake Griffin and he wasn’t up to the task — nor should he have really been expected to be. Dudley is a 6-foot-7 small-ball 4 who was a shooting guard more often than not as recently as 2014-15.
Atkinson didn’t turn to a double-big look with Allen and Ed Davis to counter Detroit’s two bigs in Griffin and Andre Drummond over concerns about gumming up the offense.
"“Yeah, we had to alternate those guys. Quite honestly playing those guys together offensively is tough, there won’t be a lot of space out there.”"
That is a point well-taken, but as Detroit was piling up 14 offensive rebounds with Allen often the only Net under the defensive board, the second-year center really could have used the help.
Jah looking for a new start
Former Brooklyn Nets big man Jahlil Okafor did manage to stay in the NBA this offseason, getting a partially guaranteed two-year deal from the New Orleans Pelicans.
If you have a subscription to The Athletic, this piece by Michael Scotto is worth a look:
Okafor rode a rapidly descending elevator from third overall pick to DNP-CD recipient on a 28-win team and hit free agency last summer after the Philadelphia 76ers declined his fourth-year option before trading him to Brooklyn.
Okafor got a cameo in Wednesday night’s stunning road win by the Pelicans, a 131-112 drubbing of the Houston Rockets. He played the final 1:35 of the game and only got on the stat line with two turnovers, not optimal.
Before writing him off completely, it’s worth pointing out that Okafor is 22 years old and in a different era would be at the start of his rookie season.