Rondae Hollis-Jefferson took the mic and stepped onto the Nets’ logo at center court. And then the rookie guard/forward thanked the faithful fans gathered inside Barclays Center for the finale of a long-lost season.
“This summer, we look forward to building and becoming better for you guys,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “So stick with us.”
The Nets shut down Brook Lopez and Thad Young with six games left and were on a nine-game skid and owned 60 losses heading into last night. The Atlantic champion Raptors were locked into the second seed and left their top four scorers behind the Canadian border to rest.
Despite 29 points from Bojan Bogdanovic, the Nets lost to the Toronto JV, 103-96.
“No one wants to be considered a loser or be on a losing team,” said Sean Kilpatrick, the shooting guard who joined the Nets from the D-League Feb. 28. “Everyone wants to make it in the postseason. … It’s going to be tough when you’re dealing with 82 games and you know at the end of the day, you’re not really playing for much.
“I think our guys did a great job with really handling the fact that even though they knew we weren’t playing for much, they were still able to come out every night and play hard.”
The Nets will be searching for their next coach after finishing 21-61, their most losses since they fell 70 times in 2009-10 and the fourth-most defeats in the franchise’s NBA history that dates to 1976-77.
“Obviously, being the interim coach, getting a chance to coach the team, has been very positive in my mind,” said Tony Brown, who took over when Lionel Hollins was fired Jan. 10 and was just 11-33 entering this final game. “… I would’ve liked to have won more games, but it was not in the cards.”
New GM Sean Marks, who took charge Feb. 18, is projected now to have in excess of $40 million in cap space to attempt to lure free agents. Brooklyn doesn’t own a first-round pick at the moment.
Marks must decide on whether to try to deal Lopez or Young. His one nice addition so far was Kilpatrick. He hit for double figures in 17 of his last 18 games. Hollis-Jefferson looked promising, too.
Besides those two, Marks only has four others with guaranteed contracts for next season -- Lopez, Young, Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough. Three others have player options.
As Kilpatrick put it: “Being able to have a new GM and knowing he wants something different out of the guys he has now, he’s going to eventually bring guys in to help us build a culture here, a winning culture on top of that.”