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USA Today Sports Media Group
Prince J. Grimes

The Nets are only delaying the inevitable by not blowing it up now

Welcome to Layup Lines, our daily NBA newsletter where we’ll prep you for a tip-off of tonight’s action, from what to watch to bets to make. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox every afternoon.

What’s good y’all. It’s Prince here with another Layup Lines, and I want to talk about the Brooklyn Nets for a minute, because they are a mess right now. And I really only see one way out of it: trade everyone with the value to be traded, cut bait with others (Kyrie Irving) and start over.

The Brooklyn Nets have had so many chances to blow things up and start over. And several signs have pointed to that being their best option, and yet they persist — now reportedly planning to hire suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka. But why?

Even before Irving’s recent and dangerous sharing of an anti-Semitic film on his social media platforms, he made clear the team would never come before his own personal endeavors. And while that’s his decision to make, it also contributed to the team completely nose-diving last season before a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Celtics. So the team could have made the decision to separate itself from him, but it didn’t.

On the heels of that disappointing finish, Kevin Durant reportedly gave the team an ultimatum to trade him or get rid of head coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks. That was the next sign the team had that things weren’t working out and another opportunity to start over. Instead, the Nets not only brought Durant back, but also the coach/GM combo who he apparently didn’t think was right for the job.

Now, I’ll admit, even through it all, I thought the Nets could still be a very competitive team in the Eastern Conference if everything broke right. But that was always going to be a big if. And it wasn’t my job to decide if that was even possible. I’m not around any of the parties involved. There was no way for me to know Ben Simmons was still broken.

But Marks is in the building. So is owner Joe Tsai. They should’ve seen that this would go bad. There was no way to predict exactly what Irving would do, but you always knew it was going to be something. The whole world saw that Nash was coaching on borrowed time.

Parting with Nash was the perfect time to kickstart a rebuild. What you don’t do is keep the whole thing going by bringing in the coach who was suspended a year for an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate — not when the end result is going to be exactly the same.

Unless Udoka can truly get buy-in from everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, and get others to play way over what they’ve shown capable during a 2-6 start to the season, the Nets aren’t winning a title. That likely leaves Durant still wanting out. Irving definitely won’t be back. And something that could’ve happened in the summer will end up happening a lot later than it needed to.

The Tip-Off

Some NBA goodness from around the USA TODAY Sports network.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most obvious takeaways from Kyrie Irving’s promotion of an anti-Semitic film and book on his Twitter account is that the NBA is woefully unequipped to deal with hate speech.

In a statement that didn’t even mention Irving by name, the NBA called his actions unacceptable. But the lack of consequences said otherwise. Statements from the Nets and Nike also failed to mention Irving.

They all had the same things in common, as my colleague Blake Schuster pointed out:

“What they all have in common is that they’re filled with empty words and no consequences. A zero-tolerance policy that does not include any actions is, by definition, tolerance. By putting Kyrie back in front of reporters on Saturday — without giving him proper education, and while he’s representing a city and a borough with one of the largest Jewish populations in the world — is tolerance of the ideas he’s espousing.

It’s moral cowardice from a league that has most recently proven it’ll take necessary steps to combat toxicity only when key sponsors demand it. Commissioner Adam Silver’s tenure began with him forcing a repugnant Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers. But what was once a legacy-defining moment is in danger of becoming an outlier on his resume, overshadowed by his capitulations to the Chinese government in the wake of Daryl Morey’s support of a democratic Hong Kong and his initial refusal to oust Robert Sarver until advertisers made the decision for him.”

And now the tolerance of a player spreading anti-Semitism. This isn’t just another PR problem for the NBA.

One to Watch

(All odds via Tipico.)

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Memphis Grizzlies (-190) at Portland Trail Blazers (+4.5, +155), O/U 226.5, 10 PM ET

Last Wednesday, I also picked from the Portland game, and I took the Blazers — not knowing Damian Lillard would later be ruled out. Well, it appears he’s still out Wednesday, so I’ll pick against the Blazers this time. The Grizzlies are coming off consecutive losses to the Utah Jazz (?) and desperate for a win, so I think they’ll bring the energy and cover 4.5 points.


— Should you buy-in on the Heat’s title odds? Jimmy Butler thinks so

— Webanyama Wednesday: Can the Pelicans get No. 1 from the Lakers?

— Jordan Poole’s reaction to a third carrying violation was hilarious

— TNT’s Inside the NBA crew strongly condemned Kyrie Irving

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