The Brooklyn Nets’ Roster Turnover Was Perfectly Summarized by an Ill-Timed Gaffe From the Clippers’ Announcer
Few teams have been as decimated by COVID-19 as the Brooklyn Nets. For perspective, Brooklyn was desperate enough to abandon its principled stand on Kyrie Irving and allow the mercurial star to play, simply because they were running out of available players. But even Irving wound up joining teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden in protocols.
Monday night, Harden led a shorthanded Nets team to a 124-108 win over the equally-shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers. Brooklyn’s roster was more recognizable than it was a week ago, although it still featured a mix of new faces. Even Brian Sieman — LA’s play-by-play television announcer — had trouble knowing who exactly was on the court.
The Brooklyn Nets have been hit hard by COVID-19
Entering Tuesday, the Nets’ 23-9 record places them atop the Eastern Conference standings. While no one would have been surprised by that at the beginning of the season, their campaign has faced great adversity in the last several days.
A week before Christmas, Irving and Durant were both placed in protocols. At the time, they were two of 10 Nets in protocols, joining Harden and LaMarcus Aldridge among others. This ultimately forced the league to postpone three of Brooklyn’s games before the team suited back up for a December 25 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
When the Nets have played, their roster has been nearly unrecognizable. On December 18, its final game before going on hiatus, Brooklyn forced the likes of Kessler Edwards, David Duke Jr., and Cam Thomas to step into the starting lineup. In a desperate effort to assemble a bench, the Nets also signed veterans Langston Galloway, James Ennis III, and Shaquille Harrison as short-term replacements.
Even the Clippers’ TV announcer had trouble keeping up with Brooklyn’s shuffling roster
Led by a dominant Harden, the first-place Nets swept their LA doubleheader by beating the Clippers on Monday night. While their roster was certainly more recognizable than the product that took the court on the 18th, it still wasn’t the Nets we’re used to seeing. That was certainly apparent to Sieman, who suffered an unfortunate faux pa while calling the game for Bally Sports SoCal.
With 8:40 left in the second quarter, Galloway hit a three to extend Brooklyn’s lead to eight points. Sieman, who’s been calling Clippers games for over a decade, began to say who made the shot before pausing for what felt like an eternity. A few seconds later, his color commentator began laughing as the two realized the hilarity of what just happened.
After the laughter settled, Sieman apologized for his honest and wholesome mistake (h/t Bally Sports SoCal).
“I pride myself on hours of research, as I enjoy to do, but that was a little embarrassing. … I want to be clear for you and I, no disrespect for Galloway at all. The rosters are changing.”Brian Sieman
That was the only shot the eight-year veteran Galloway, who’s played in four games with his new team, hit for the Nets that night. So unfortunately, Sieman didn’t get a chance at redemption.
The Nets are nearly back to full strength
As thankful as Brooklyn is for players like Galloway filling in for its missing stars, brighter days are ahead. Tuesday morning, the team announced that Durant, Irving, and Aldridge have all cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols. That means barring any setbacks, both Durant and Aldridge will be available for the Nets’ next game; a home matchup on Thursday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
KD, who last played on December 16, is the league leader in scoring with 29.7 points per game. Aldridge has also served as a very valuable big man off of the bench, averaging 14.0 points in his first full season in Brooklyn.
As for Irving, the star guard will still have to wait a while longer before playing. The seven-time All-Star has been away from the team due to his unvaccinated status, which legally prevents him from playing home games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate. Now that Brooklyn has softened its stance, Irving is on track to debut on January 5, when the Nets leave home to play the Indiana Pacers.
Regardless, it sounds as if Brooklyn’s roster will be a lot more recognizable going forward. Announcers can now breathe a sigh of relief.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.