What's next for the Nets?

Payroll and coaching questions overshadow good first season in Brooklyn

Originally Published: May 2, 2013
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider

P.J. Carlesimo and Deron WilliamsAP Photo/Jim PrischingP.J. Carlesimo and Deron Williams face an awkward offseason.

The Nets capped their first season in Brooklyn with a playoff appearance, but it turned out to be a brief one. After breezing to a Game 1 rout of the sixth-seeded Chicago Bulls, the third-seeded Nets dropped the series Saturday night, bringing a mostly positive season to an abrupt halt.

Ending the playoff drought was an accomplishment for a team that lost 70 games just three years ago. But erratic stretches led to the ouster of Avery Johnson as coach in late December and, of course, the playoff collapse against Chicago.

General manager Billy King invested a significant chunk (around $330 million) of Mikhail Prokhorov's fortune into this version of the Nets, and because of that, Brooklyn fans probably are stuck with it for a while. It's too soon for the team's new fan base to be cynical -- the days of the "wait 'til next year" mantra at Ebbets Field are several generations behind us -- but it's not unreasonable to ask: How is a capped-out, second-tier team going to improve? The problem falls to King, who recently inked a multiyear extension to stay on as general manager.