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Commentary, news, analysis and reader-driven discussions focusing on this year's NBA playoffs.
2:20 a.m. ET, 5/15/07

Nets Need A New Plan

Posted by Chris Mannix
Vince Carter's shot selection so far has left something to be desired.
AP
Three years ago, New Jersey had just lost a grueling, seven game Eastern Conference semifinal series to the Detroit Pistons, a loss that ended the Nets' hopes for a third straight trip to the NBA Finals and provided the springboard to Detroit's championship run. That offseason, the Nets broke up the nucleus of their team, allowing the ferocious Kenyon Martin to walk away as a free agent.

My question is, if the Nets were willing to make changes then, what makes anyone think they won't make significant changes now?

New Jersey general manager Rod Thorn will need to take a hard look in the mirror once this series is over, which could come as early as Wednesday in Cleveland. His team is soft. Mikki Moore is a nice complementary player who has earned a spot (and a considerable raise) with some team next season thanks to his blossoming offensive game. But he has collected just 15 rebounds this series, or two less than Jason Kidd pulled down last night. And he is the starting center.

Vince Carter hasn't been much better. Last night's shooting performance marked the sixth straight game Carter has shot less than 46 percent from the field. And it's not the misses that are the problem. It's where he is missing them from.

Penetration that was once his trademark has been replaced by 15- to 18-foot jump shots. The Nets already have a jump shooter. His name is Bostjan Nachbar. They don't need another. They need an aggressive Vince Carter, the player who used to blow by players with sheer athleticism. That Carter is gone and likely will never come back again.

The future of the two remaining members of the Nets' Big Three is even less certain. This playoff disappointment will do nothing to dissuade Kidd's desire to be traded, while Richard Jefferson has had a love-hate relationship with New Jersey for two years running. Both could be dealt over the summer.

Is it salvageable? Yes, under the right circumstances. Risks must be taken. Cleveland has shown how effective a rugged rebounder like Drew Gooden can be. Well, there is a Gooden equivalent on the market: his name is Danny Fortson. A questionable attitude and a litany of injuries (some real, some fake) will drive Fortson's price down in the offseason and the Nets should move in with an offer. Toughness is a rare commodity in this day and age and Fortson is loaded with it. Plus, he can rebound. Really[ital] rebound. Pair him next to a healthy Nenad Krstic, bring the underrated Jason Collins off the bench with Josh Boone and you might have the makings of something.

Simply put, the Nets cannot continue down this beaten path. It's just not working anymore.

GAME NOTE

On a side note, I feel this game presents me with the perfect opportunity to rail against my least favorite topic. Flopping. According to 82games.com, Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao led the league this season with 99 offensive fouls drawn, 22 more than Dallas's Devin Harris. That's a travesty. Flopping, which first evolved in the late '80s and was turned into an art form in the '90s by Vlade Divac has made physical play almost obsolete. Big men like Varejao who should be contesting shots instead throw their body in front of smaller offensive players and stumble backwards, often with the zeal of a Broadway actor. Enough already. Basketball is a contact sport. Ask Bill Laimbeer. Floppers should be punished for slowing the game down, not rewarded for it. Officials should assess a technical foul to any player guilty of flopping while the league should relax the rules on contact underneath. The integrity of the game has suffered so much in recent years with the constant rule changes, why not try and preserve what little it has left?
posted by SI.com | View comments |  

Comments:

Posted: 5:43 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Danny Fortson? .......really? I don't think that is the answer the Nets are looking for.
Posted: 7:28 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Couldn't agree more re. flopping...but the bigger issue is that the refs WILL NOT call an offensive foul unless the defender reacts by moving backwards (i.e. flopping). There are legit instances in which the momentum of an offensive player forces a defender back & the offensive foul is called...but the exact same play will either be a no-call or a blocking foul if the defender doesn't react (flop). The flopping won't stop until refs assure the players that an offensive foul will be called without the defender having to flop.
Posted: 8:44 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Flopping? C'mon. Andy is simply taking advantage of poor officiating all around. Don't blame him. If they're going to call it, why shouldn't he? You want to lobby against something, start with the silly hand-check rules, the 3-pt line, or the shot-clock. Talk about slowing the game down.
Posted: 9:07 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
If Anderson has two feet squarely on the ground and someone runs into him on the way to the basket, thats not flopping. It takes guts to stand your ground. I follow the cavaliers - Anderson takes some serious hits. If you think thats flopping, why dont you try it? I'll come visit you in the hospital the next day to get your revised opinion on Anderson.
Anderson is great at drawing charges, not just 'flopping'. Though of course to do the first you have to do the second.

If the refs would actually call a charge without the defensive player falling backwards, I'd agree with you. It has little to do with Vlade and everything to do with the way the officials call the games.
Posted: 10:07 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Now we are going to ban trying to draw a charge? Isn't blocking of the lane a legitimate defensive strategy? This is insane to even suggest. Agreed, flopping has gotten out of hand to a degree, but to single out Varejao for extreme guilt is ignorance based solely on sheer numbers; lets have some video of each of the charging calls and analyze. There is a difference between flopping after legitimate hard contact and being lightly brushed and flying 10 feet across the floor. Funny, I've been an NBA fan for years and I recall "flopping" well before Vlade. And wasn't Dennis Rodman always praised for his "quick feet"?
Posted: 10:29 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Flopping is a Direct Result of the NBA Refs Refusing to observe the Principle of Verticality. If a Defensive player gets direct position in front of a driving Offensive player and moves his feet at all it is almost a foregone conclusion that the Ref will call a foul irrespective of whether the Defender changed his floor position in relationship to the Offensive player's direction. So, what is the point of jumping and trying to block a shot when that action is certainly going to be called a Defensive Foul?
Posted: 10:34 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Vince's stat's continue to impress. Last game 9 reb's, 9 assists, and 25 poins. But if his team doesn't win, his stats don't matter and he becomes the goat. Everybody only remembers the misses. I'm not sure if Vince has the mental toughness to lead a team to the promised land, although his stat's continue to impress.
What cracks me up is people like Barkley who say when basketball was first made into a game, big men falling down taking charges was not thought of as part of the game. So with that, people like Anderson should get a Tech for falling down.
When the game was first played dunking nor the three point shot was included as part of the game nor the shot clock. Should we make dunking and a deep shot a tech as well since they were not considered part of the game? Only reason Andy is getting singled out is b/c he's the best at what he does. Take charges. And that is part of the game. Even if it isn't pretty.
Posted: 10:59 AM, May 15, 2007   by Jonathan
Excellent point. Floppers do slow the game down and make a farce of tough play. The problem is that flopping works - just ask Manu, Nash, etc... But the worst offender is D.Wade - who mastered the "offensive flop" (Nash does this too) where he dribbles into a defender then reacts like he has been shot with a rifle and flops to the floor. As long as the refs reward flopping, it will continue.
Posted: 11:24 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Totally agree. I've heard numerous complaints about Anderson and what's being called "flopping", and these are from legit basketball minds. I don't get what these guys are watching. He doesn't fake falling over, he beats them to the spot and takes the punishing hit, the ultimate defensive sacrifice. If he's late getting there and still falls down, they call the block, as they should. I'll take that guy on my team any day. That's just really good aggressive defense. Rodman was glorified for it, rightfully so.
Posted: 11:26 AM, May 15, 2007   by baller61
I thought pushing and bending the rules to gain every possible competitive advantage was just smart basketball. Why is "flopping" any different than hoisting up a shot that has no chance of going in when a shooter realizes he can draw contact and get to the free throw line? Or throwing the ball off a defender's leg while falling out of bounds to retain possession?
Posted: 11:42 AM, May 15, 2007   by JayFig203
I saw Anderson flop the other night when he caught a pinky from Nachbar I think. It was rediculous. There are alot of floppers in the league (Ginobli is the worst). It's horrible when someone acts because there's slight incidental contact. It slows down the game and removes aggressiveness from a game plan. Technical to all floppers!
Posted: 11:49 AM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
thank you. I am tired of big men stepping front of players 6'2" and shorter trying to take a charge. Play like a big man. Work on positioning yourself to make a rejection or better yet grab the ball out of the air. The Nets shouldn't sign Danny but bring in some good young vets for Kidd, VC, and Jefferson
Posted: 12:10 PM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Trade Kidd to chgo. for hindrich, duhon,pj brown & lottery pick.
Posted: 12:13 PM, May 15, 2007   by Gill
Anyone that spells ridiculous, 'rediculous' loses almost all credibility.

Again, don't punish the players for taking advantage of how officials decide and call games.

What does having position mean, if a man charges you but you don't move?

There are so many gray areas the league has overstepped there bounds to correct.

There needs to be some change, yes. The game needs to return to the physicality it once had. But don't chastise the player for learning how to better his team by using the rules as they stand today.
Posted: 12:13 PM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Let's look at the real reason for the Nets' losses...Lawrence Frank. Frank is by far the worst 4th quarter game coach there is in the league. His "when in doubt, have everyone stand around and give the ball to vince" play is terrible and never works. Also, I have not seen any significant development from the rookies (Williams, Boone) and I blame that on Frank. Bring me Jeff Van Gundy please.
Posted: 12:14 PM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Well Mr. Mannix, out of all these comments from people who read your "column", only two people back you on the flopping issue. Maybe you should actually watch some Cavs games and see that Varejao is actually taking real hits. The national lack of respect for the Cavs never ceases to amaze me.

And good point to the earlier poster on Dwayne Wade. All he does is dribble into the lane, jump up and throw himself into somebody, and the ref calls a foul on the defender. Unbelievable.
I agree with you 100% about the flopping. It is certainly getting in the way of the fluidity of the sport. Since it is a foreign product brought in by foreign players then we should conclude that ultimatley it will reflect poorly like it has on the sport it was lifted from in the first place. Hello football! (i mean soccer to you, gringos) If you need more evidence check out the replay of last night's SPURS vs SUNS game. That last flop by Nash is still reverberating today.
Oh by the way concluding my last statement. If you want those big dudes to go back to their nature and act like bangers instead of floppers, please tell Daivd Stern to get rid of those silly hand check rules and let the game go to its more traditional incarnation and stop "giving space" to superstars on the low block. Jordan started it all. I guess they didnt care about his legacy as long as in the short run it produced money. Oh, but it still is producing money in a superstar run league? Well then i guess complaining is still strictly for the French, huh? (although the only ones complaining in these NBA playoffs are the CAnadians and the Americans cause I havent heard a peep from the French men when they get slammed on their way to the hoop)
it's true the Cavs don't get respected. The AP writer or writer who covers the Cavs opens every one of his articles with a line about Lebron James. Pathetic! LBJ is undoubtedly the leader, but the Cavs would be nowhere without andy, Gooden, or Z. ( They would probably be better without Hughes, on the other hand). This "one man team" stuff is nonsense.

Even if it was true, I wouldnt mind - the Bulls never seemed to care when their "one man show" was winning them championship after championship.
it's true the Cavs don't get respected. The AP writer or writer who covers the Cavs opens every one of his articles with a line about Lebron James. Pathetic! LBJ is undoubtedly the leader, but the Cavs would be nowhere without andy, Gooden, or Z. ( They would probably be better without Hughes, on the other hand). This "one man team" stuff is nonsense.

Even if it was true, I wouldnt mind - the Bulls never seemed to care when their "one man show" was winning them championship after championship.
Posted: 2:49 PM, May 15, 2007   by Rickmc23
Yeah, Vince's stats were great.
6 of 25 from the field. Thats fantastic. Exactly what you expect from your "super-star"
Posted: 4:18 PM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
VINCE CARTER'S STATS CONTINUE TO IMPRESS. Be glad there's no category in the stat sheets for just handing the ball to Larry Hughes, ridiculous three point attempts, and being a ball hog. Carter is washed up and a bum. He is the only reason the NETS lost game four to the CAVS. Butterfingers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 6:08 PM, May 15, 2007   by Anonymous
Sure take away flopping. But, if you do, then take away the crappy offensive player jumping into the defender foul call. While you are at it, call fouls on Shaq.
Posted: 4:46 AM, May 19, 2007   by Anonymous
I agree with your comment about flopping. But, I want to take it further. There has been so much talk about the Spurs being a dirty team. That is absolute nonsense; they are a tough team. Bruce Bowen is not a dirty player, he is a defensive specialist and he, rightly, is not going to let you just play your game; his job is to stop you at all costs, minus severely injuring you. Some fool, somewhere, at some time over the past 10 or so years decided that basketball should not be a tough sport. Well, that may work for the sissy, whimpy west coast teams and players who like to run up and down, play no defence and hope that nobody plays defence on them.

Amare Stoudemaire should have just shut up and played basketball. He is a centre, he is 6 feet 9 inches of supposedly man. If so, shut up, toughen up and man up. The playoffs is when real men come to play. Teams who really want to win adopt a no layup rule and foul you hard if you dare come inside. This gives them a psychological advantage over soft players.

I understand that guys don't want to get injured and I'm not suggesting they should. I'm just saying that defence wins championships and part of playing good defence is playing hard, muscleling your opponent, boxing out, being tough. The tougher team usually wins. The Spurs were both physically and mentally tough. To see a distinguished gentleman like Steve Nash reduced to whining now says it all. The Suns had a chance to win game 5, at home, with their best player(who won the last two league MVPs? - not Amare), Steve Nash, on the court. The rules have been in place all year and nobody had a problem with them.

When Carmelo Anthony sat out all those games nobody had a problem with the rules. Everybody was happy that David Stern was cleaning up the league. I didn't hear any of the Suns saying the rules were wrong/bad in December; so they must also be OK in May, right?

Dallas too is soft; which is one of the reasons the Warriors beat them.

So, I have little time and little love for big guys who flop and/or take charges, especially right under the basket. Get up, stand up, play some real defence and try to block/contest a shot, instead of trying to draw a whimpy charge when you're standing 3 feet away from the basket, especially when you're 6 foot 7 or more. I also cannot stand players who whine about tough play. If you don't like tough play, don't come inside; stay outside and shoot jumpers if you don't like contact or want your pretty face/body to be touched, pushed or knocked around.

In a 7 game series, those sissy west coast teams, other than the Spurs and Jazz, struggle against teams like the Pistons (who I predict will come out of the East), the 2006 Miami Heat (ask Dallas about last year) or any team that plays tough defence. The Spurs and Jazz are more East Coast oriented teams; just check the physical nature of their play. That is real basketball.

The morale of this story is if you want to win a championship, you have to toughen up, be willing to play tough interior defence and you must accept that you will be played tough, because teams want to win and the team that plays the toughest usually wins.
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