Nets Tip Off What Looks Like a Long Season Tonight

It isn't easy being the New Jersey Nets. Sharing space with the Knicks means lagging support even when you've got good teams, which the Nets often had after the Knicks drove themselves off a cliff. When teams are bad, though, it takes GPS just to find mention of their games. With Mike D'Antoni starting his first year as Knicks coach and a transitional roster, the Nets may be covered with all the ferocity of high school badminton.

The trades of Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson leave behind a callow roster. Seven players have two years of experience or less, including three rookies looking to make their professional debuts in Washington tonight. That may fit with the long-term plan of having a good team in place for the eventual move to Brooklyn, but it's not going to do much to make this year's games any easier to watch.

The one established player, Vince Carter, is a likely trade candidate, if someone's willing to take on his massive contract. Carter claims that he isn't looking to make a move, telling the Post that he "likes these guys" and thinks the Nets can make the playoffs. His words don't mean much, though, after the way he forced his way out of Toronto. If someone wants him, he'll be moved and the team will continue trying to find players to build around for the long term.

Of the young guns, Yi Jianlian is the most likely to make an impact this season. Not on the court, his game is still evolving toward NBA levels, but in the stands. The Chinese forward will likely draw a fair number of his countrymen to the Meadowlands which should offset some of the attendance shortfalls.

That's not much to bank on from a NBA season so the Nets have to hope for finding a player or three among the chaff and continue the process of overhauling their franchise.

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