The 2018-19 NBA season is underway. Teams are officially in the gym practicing. Preseason games begin next week. The Brooklyn Nets will host their Manhattan rivals, the New York Knicks, Wednesday night at Barclays Center located on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues in Brooklyn before hitting the road for three games against the Detroit Pistons, the Toronto Raptors and the Knicks again as they get themselves together, prepared for the 82-game season.
The new season officially starts for the Nets on the road in Detroit Wednesday, Oct. 17. They’ll travel to Indiana, Cleveland and New Orleans before the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, appear in Brooklyn at the end of October.
LeBron James is no longer with Cleveland, or playing in the Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia 76ers are no longer neighbors to Brooklyn at the bottom of the standings. Kawhi Leonard, a former standout with the San Antonio Spurs, now plays in the Eastern Conference with the Toronto Raptors. Toronto’s former head coach, Dwane Casey, now coaches the Pistons, and there’s a possibility that Jimmy Butler might return to an Eastern Conference team.
Last season ended with the Raptors in first in the East, followed by the Boston Celtics, the Sixers third and Cleveland fourth. Boston was a 2-seed with two of their best players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Haywood injured, and out during the season.
With James gone, the landscape from the 4-seed down to 15 is questionable. It’s a major grab for higher seeded positions. With changes, a major new player and new coach in Toronto, their place in the top three is also questionable. It’s wait and see. Will it work?
For the Nets and all of the other East teams, the actions of each team will be an equal and opposite reaction for the others. Their actions, trades and acquisitions, not to mention wins and losses, will help move them up or help move them down. The stronger teams, such as Boston, Philly and maybe the Raptors, will feed off them, but for now, the season looks bright and positive for them all.
Brooklyn, a 28-win team last season, a 12-seed, is bringing back center Jarrett Allen, forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll, guard/forwards Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris, and guards Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell.
Gone, shockingly, is Jeremy Lin, traded in mid-July to the Atlanta Hawks for a 2020 second-round pick and the rights to Isaia Cordinier, a 2016 second-round pick who has remained overseas.
Noted additions to this Nets team is 6-foot-1 guard Shabazz Napier and 6-foot-10 forward/center Ed Davis. Both were with the Portland Trailblazers last year.
Also signed was 6-foot-7 UNC shooting guard Theo Pinson, who went undrafted in June.
Napier and Davis’ Portland team was a Western Conference 3-seed playoff team last season. Their contracts were up. They both had other offers, but Napier made the decision to join the Nets because of the fit between the two.
“I felt like there was an opportunity to play, an opportunity for me to grow, an opportunity for me to be with a team that wants to make it to the playoffs,” said Napier. “I think that’s what made it so enticing for me.”