Nets blow off fiery rhetoric from Lakers’ Jeanie Buss
Los Angels Lakers CEO and governor Jeanie Buss fired a shot across the bow earlier this week when reacting to how the Brooklyn Nets significantly upgraded their already-formidable roster with the additions of Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Perhaps in tacit acknowledgment that the moves placed a target even more squarely on Brooklyn’s back and exhibiting an unwillingness to engage in a war of words with the reigning champs, Nets head coach Steve Nash and Aldridge himself have since downplayed Buss’ fiery “bring it on” rhetoric.
“They are a great team, great franchise, defending champs,” Nash said of the Lakers, per the New York Post. “So, they are the team to beat.”
“I don’t follow any of that stuff,” Aldridge added. “If you’ve followed me during my career I don’t really read clippings and all those types of things. I had no clue about it. Just here to play basketball. I’m older, so it’s an opportunity to be on a winning team and bring some things that I think can help — and that’s all it is.”
Already boasting the Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, the Nets without question were already among the front-runners poised to challenge the Lakers as the team aspires to win back-to-back titles.
Adding Aldridge and Griffin — who are of course past their primes but still serviceable players — unquestionably makes a loaded and rolling Nets squad a much more legitimate threat, both in the Eastern Conference and as a potential NBA Finals participant against whichever team will represent the Western Conference.
A return to health for Kevin Durant, who still remains sidelined with a nagging hamstring strain, will of course play an outsized role on how deep the Nets go in the postseason. The Nets, with the team remaining hot despite Durant’s prolonged absence, are in the enviable position where the team can play it extremely safe with Durant and not rush his return.
The Lakers, it merits noting, recently received an upgrade of their own courtesy of the NBA’s buyout market. Former Cavaliers star Andre Drummond is set to join L.A. after negotiating his way out of Cleveland.
“I don’t think we do anything necessarily picking out a team,” Nash said. “We just try to improve every day, in-house and with our player personnel. They [Lakers] have been fantastic.”
Are the Nets and Lakers — a team dealing with injury issues of their own with the ongoing absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis — on an inevitable NBA Finals collision course? It’s far too soon to rubber stamp such a notion, as so much can happen between now and the postseason, including injuries to key players, among myriad other issues.
That being said, the case can be made that the Lakers and Nets engaging in an arms race of sorts by continuing to procure high-end talent is great for the NBA, which is what Buss was mostly saying in the first place.