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Don’t blame Brown for Nets’ mess

Interim Head Coach Had No Chance to Succeed in Lost Season

April 12, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Interim head coach Tony Brown has done his best to keep the Nets afloat during this disastrous fourth season in our fair borough. AP photo
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For more than two months now, Tony Brown has had to stand at the post-game podium and come up with a myriad of reasons for why the Brooklyn Nets are one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Brooklyn’s interim head coach has shouldered a lot of that blame in his press conferences, regardless of the fact that he has one remaining starter — Bojan Bogdanovic — from the unit that began this disastrous fourth season in our fair borough.

Brown was also told a few weeks ago that the franchise’s two foundation pieces, center Brook Lopez and power forward Thaddeus Young, would be shut down so as to avoid potential injury down this stretch of meaningless games.

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Despite being asked to make lemonade out of a limited supply of lemons, Brown has endured, going 11-33 since taking the reins on Jan. 10 following the firing of head coach Lionel Hollins and the reassignment of general manager Billy King.

Considering the Nets were 10-27 when he took over, and new GM Sean Marks has basically handed him a shorthanded roster with ill-fitting pieces and no Lopez or Young during this current nine-game losing streak, Brown has fulfilled the organization’s wishes.

He has fostered the development of young, unproven players such as rookies Chris McCullough and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, gotten some unexpected, though sporadic production from Shane Larkin and Thomas Robinson, and benefitted from Marks’ signing of former NBDL standout Sean Kilpatrick.

None of that, however, will save his job as the Nets are clearly looking to find a new leader on the bench for this new era of “Patience” being preached by billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov in the wake of the franchise’s second-ever 60-loss campaign.

Brown continued to fall on his sword for his players Monday night following a 120-111 loss to the Wizards that included a game-opening 20-0 Washington run in front of an announced crowd of 14,653 at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

“I didn’t think our starters got into the game as quick as we wanted them to and the second group that got out there changed the whole intensity and pace of the game,” Brown said after Brooklyn battled its way back into contention from its dismal start, only to see the Wizards close them out during a fourth quarter in which the Nets managed just 13 points.

Larkin and Bogdanovic scored 20 points apiece, Kilpatrick added 17 and Hollis-Jefferson finished with 14 for the Nets, who have not posted a victory since March 26.

Brooklyn will get one more chance to snap this season-ending funk, hosting Toronto on Wednesday night at Barclays in the finale to this 82-game debacle.

Brown will once again fulfill all the obligations of a head coach on that evening, with virtually none of the power that normally accompanies the post.

It will likely be his last night as interim head coach, but the 55-year-old Chicago native, who was actually selected by the Nets in the fourth round of the 1982 NBA Draft out of Arkansas, has earned a spot in this organization going forward.

Not for his won-loss record, but for his ability to navigate a very difficult situation with professionalism and poise.

“I feel like the situation has been tough from the beginning,” Brown intimated before Monday’s game.

“I’ve tried to make the best of it and I’m going to continue to do that the last two games and whatever happens, happens. I’m not worried about my fate with this organization.”

Nor should he be.

If he so chooses, Tony Brown should be back on the Nets’ bench in 2016-17, not as head coach, but as an assistant to whomever Marks decides to bring in next.

That’s the least the Nets can do for a loyal employee who been forced to answer for the rest of the organization’s shortcomings on a nightly basis.

Nothing But Net: Robinson, who was averaging just over 15 points and 13 rebounds over a six-game stretch before tweaking his right knee in Sunday’s loss at Indiana, sat out Monday’s contest … The Nets lost all three meetings with the Wizards this season … Larkin’s 20 points were a career-best, and he also picked up seven assists and six rebounds in Monday’s loss … Wednesday’s finale is Fan Appreciation Night at Barclays Center as Brooklyn closes out its first non-playoff campaign since arriving in our fair borough back in 2012.

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