By Steve Silverman
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Some things are just too good to be true.
It’s easy to look at the Nets on Friday and say they are one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference and they may join the Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls (with a healthy Derrick Rose) as a legitimate challenger to LeBron James and his Miami Heat.
But it may not be the case.
The Nets made the big move on draft day by acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics for three first-round draft picks (2014, 2016, 2018) along with Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and Kris Joseph.
Garnett and Pierce have the championship pedigree that the Nets have needed for years. But while the Nets will have a starting lineup that includes Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez along with Pierce and Garnett, you have to worry about the longevity of this team.
There’s little doubt that with Jason Kidd directing the team and having Garnett and Pierce as his standard bearers, the Nets are a much smarter and more efficient team than the one that got run out of the playoffs in the seventh game by the undermanned Bulls.
But the clock is ticking on this team already.
Privately, the Celtics are doing a dance that they found a willing trade partner. When it was clear that Doc Rivers was leaving and on his way to becoming the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, general manager Danny Ainge’s mind was made up.
He knew the rebuilding process that he had considered for the last 18 months could no longer be avoided. He knew he had to trade his big-name stars, and the Nets were willing to give up three first-round picks. That’s all he needed to hear.
The Nets become instantly better, but even if Pierce and Garnett are at their best, there’s no guarantee the Nets will be better than the Knicks, Bulls or Pacers, let alone the Heat.
Here’s the other problem: Garnett and Pierce are on their last legs. They can’t run every night and they can’t compete at a high level every night. Billy King supposedly knows this, but you also have to wonder if he was taken in by Pierce’s 18.6 ppg average or Garnett’s 14.8 ppg mark and his 7.8 rebounds per night.
The pair may come close to those numbers this year, but there are some nights when both players just can’t get up and down the court.
Pierce’s legs aren’t always there, and that’s when the Nets will get a 2-for-12 shooting night from him. Garnett is at his best when he is operating close to the hoop, but he loves to show off his jumper. That’s not going to help the Nets win many games.
But as long as Pierce, 35, and Garnett, 37, are in the lineup, the Nets are going to win a lot of games. They should be a 50-plus win team in 2013-14.
The problem comes when Pierce and Garnett get hurt and can’t play effectively. That’s when the loss of three first-round draft picks could end up haunting them.
Go ahead and celebrate the trade now and dream of immediate playoff success.
The Nets have a window of opportunity that will be open for two years, and then it will slam shut.
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