In the end, this Nets team was simply too good to go down in history as the worst team in NBA history. They won for the third time in four games on Monday night, giving them 10 wins on the season and ensuring themselves a spot as a team that was simply very, very bad instead of one that was historically awful. Kudos on that, good sirs.
The victory over the Spurs -- playing without Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker -- was the latest moment in the season when you were forced to wonder if the Nets would have even come close to challenging this record if they'd actually employed a coach for the entire season. Kiki Vandeweghe may be the salt of the Earth, but he's not an NBA coach and it's been pretty clear that the Nets have underperformed their talent for the entire season.
Given the presence of John Wall as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, it was understandable if not commendable that the Nets chose to go the tank-tastic route that they did. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how they play out their remaining eight games.
They now stand just four games behind the Timberwolves, who are actually the worst assemblage of talent in the Association these days, and the Wolves are on a 16-game skid that rivals anything the Nets put together this season and there don't appear to be too many wins in the tank. The Nets should thank their lucky stars that the Wolves actually beat them twice this season and then get back to doing their best to ensure the most ping pong balls come May 18th.
Once Wall or some other young stallion is on board, the Nets are going to need an honest-to-goodness coach to make sure that the team doesn't repeatedly drive itself into a ditch in future seasons. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, they've set their gaze upon the bald pate of Jeff Van Gundy to fill that role. There's some mention of college coaches Tom Izzo and Jay Wright as well, but those seem like both long shots and bad ideas for a team with designs on luring free agents over the next few seasons.
Van Gundy's teams might not play the most exciting brand of basketball but his teams win and, perhaps more importantly, they win by highlighting the efforts of star players. Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell all thrived playing for Alonzo Mourning's leg ornament in New York and the Tracy McGrady-Yao Ming duo was a potent one for his Rockets teams. Van Gundy's got a pretty cushy gig right now but Mikhail Prokhorov's millions and the fact that a 35-win season would represent a massive turnaround should make it easier to lure him.
Competent coaches, an owner who spends money on basketball and not eminent domain lawsuits and double-digit wins: Things are definitely looking up in New Jersey. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, but we may have a basketball team here.