New Jersey Nets 2003-04 Season Preview
Share This Story
2002-03 FINISH: 49-33
OFFSEASON ADDITIONS: C
OFFSEASON LOSSES: C
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP: PG
COACH: Byron Scott
(Sports Network) - Be warned. The NBA is making a strong push to sell the world on the New Jersey
And as if this nucleus wasn't solid enough, over the offseason the
Taking all this into account, the NBA realizes that the
This summer, Kidd, Jefferson and Martin were chosen to play for the United States in the qualifying tournament for the 2004 Athens Olympics (Martin replaced
Still, it's going to be tough for the
But who knows, if the
Throughout last season Kidd wouldn't commit to re-signing with the
In the end, Kidd chose to stay with the
"We put ourselves in the free agent market and every professional athlete dreams about being wanted," said Kidd. "It could have been easy to go to San Antonio and play with
Kidd stepped his play last season when the
Kidd doesn't have much help in the form of a backup point guard. With
Kittles, an essential ingredient to the
Harris averaged a career-best 10.3 points in 25.6 minutes per game last season, but shot just 41.3 percent from the floor.
Another thing that made Kidd's decision to stay in New Jersey easier was the team's signing of Mourning, who returns to the NBA following a one-year hiatus.
Doctors had advised Mourning to skip last season after his kidney condition had worsened. Mourning was originally diagnosed in October 2000 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a kidney disease that can eventually require a transplant.
But Mourning was cleared to play in May after a physical examination and signed on with the
In his last NBA season, Mourning played 75 games -- starting 74 -- for the Miami
But it remains to be seen just how effective the 33-year-old Mourning can be. If Mourning ends up being just 75 percent of the player that he was during his prime, the
The injury to Mutombo last year turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the fast-breaking
Martin is coming off an NBA Finals he'd love to forget. The power forward scored a playoff career-low four points on 2-of-8 shooting in Game 5, then hit just 3-of-23 field-goal attempts for six points in the sixth and final game. For the series, Martin shot a horrid 34.3 percent from the floor. In fact, his performance declined with each series in the playoffs, going from 22.3 ppg vs. Milwaukee, to 20.5 vs. Boston, to 18.5 vs. Detroit, to 14.7 vs. San Antonio.
Despite the Finals woes, Martin still produced his best season as a pro (16.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and is regarded as one of the best power forwards in the game. As a result, he's looking to get some respect in the form of a maximum six- year contract from the
Jefferson took advantage of his new role as starter last season, averaging career-highs of 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. He also shot a stellar 50.1 percent from the floor, which ranked 13th in the NBA.
However, Jefferson still has trouble creating his own shot and could have struggle if defenses start to clamp down on him. Fortunately, the small forward has the luxury of playing with Kidd, who can always get the ball to Jefferson in his spots.
With the addition of Mourning, it seems the