They heavily invested into the backcourt. Perhaps Deron Williams played better after the all-star break, but he faded away against the replacements from Chicago. History would suggest he was the best player on the court, with Joe Johnson arguably being the second best in comparison to any individual player on the Bulls. Maybe their best game is in the rearview mirror, or maybe they just need more time together. Johnson did play hurt, but he clearly did not participate much, aside from that triple-overtime thriller. The salary of players in their playoff rotation was $40 million more than that of the Bulls, whom they lost to at home, in seven games, facing Chicago without their rotation players (Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich), two more players playing injured (Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson), and were trailing 3-1. They did win a pair of games to force a win or go home game seven, but to no avail.
The coaching search has begun after parting ways with P.J. Carlesimo. He did get outcoached as many do against a Coach of the Year in Tom Thibodeau. Carlesimo has been around for awhile now, and did some good things the second half of the year to clinch the fourth seed. How he used Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche, and Kris Humphries in the playoffs offensively, that was good managing. However, they did struggle on defense and to keep key players involved offensively. It would have been nice to see Marshon Brooks get some more burn in the backcourt, as he penetrated the lanes and caused mismatches in limited minutes. Overall, Carlesimo did a solid job after taking over for the relieved Avery Johnson. Brooklyn does need a better communicator for a head coach, Lopez wasn’t too fond of his ways and I would put the series loss more so on that “star-powered” backcourt and the lack of leadership.
Which brings up an interesting point concerning Deron Williams. The point guard can’t seem to play for highly-respected coaches. Johnson is a defensive-minded coach with a focus on blue-collar work ethic, similar to future Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Sloan, who was coaching the Utah Jazz, before a dispute with Williams led to his departure. This is a team with three all-star resumes, including Brook Lopez. The young big man has already entered the upper echelon and still has room to grow. Once he realizes that he is the engine that makes them go, he has to beef up to bang more inside on both ends of the floor, which he stated himself. Lopez has to stray away from the soft influences of the backcourt veterans, but he is improving quickly.
As far as moving forward, Blatche and point guard C.J. Watson are unrestricted free agents. Blatche could be someone they hang on to, while Watson should not be an offseason priority after disappointing play in consecutive postseasons (last year with Chicago). With Humphries’ contract scheduled to come off the books next offseason that will either free up cap space or make him a candidate to be traded between now and the next trade deadline. The silver lining, is the fact that they are in the top half of the Eastern Conference and they did host a first round series with the firepower to come back stronger. You might not like the fact that Jay-Z has formed an agency to possibly funnel players to joining the squad, but you must admit, that “Brook-lyn, Brook-lyn” chant by the home crowd is awesome.