by Marcel Mutoni

The pre-season is underway and the regular season jumps off in less than a month (Oct. 31), so it’s probably time to start previewing the 2006-2007 NBA season. With the help of some of the most prominent hoop writers on the web (bloggers and newspaper columnists), we’ll be taking an in-depth look at each one of the 30 teams.

Today, Mike Kozlowski from Joe Netsfan helps us preview his team, the New Jersey Nets.

SLAM: Is it time to move in another direction point-guard wise, or is Jason Kidd still the right man for the job?

MK: Is Kidd the right man for the job? Does Larry Brown have a set of big ones for wanting to get paid the rest of his contract after the work he did last season? Does Charles Barkley like to give his opinion? Simple answer – yes. The team is built around Kidd, frankly, and no one could bring them closer to a title with Carter, Jefferson and Krstic better than Kidd. What is key, though, is how much rest his soon-to-be 34 year old legs will get. The entire team swings on Kidd staying injury-free and keeping his minutes below 35 per game.

How do you feel about the team relocating to Brooklyn? Will anyone actually miss playing in The Swamp?

Frankly, it sucks. Funny thing about Brooklyn. Fan support in New Jersey has been less than stellar, but then again, they’ve had horrible ownership for the most part over the past 25 years. Now, you’ve got a guy who knows how to market in the area, rising attendance, and of course an owner who wants to relocate to fill his pockets with even more gelt than he could ever possibly need. Off to Brooklyn they go, and hopefully to bigger and better (ticket prices, that is). It’s sad. The average Net fan is going to get shut out of the games, trust me. And let’s not even mention the political mis-doings going on to get the arena built in Brooklyn. Yes, the Nets need new revenue streams, or a better arena. They didn’t need to go to Brooklyn to get one, though. As for the players, I would highly doubt that anyone will miss the Meadowlands. Except maybe John Calipari…

How fun is it to know that you’re going to play the Knicks at least four times a year?

More fun than a barrel of Isiah Thomas gourmet popcorn. More fun than a Stephon Marbury – Larry Brown catfight in the media. More fun than a Steve Francis unforced turnover. More fun than a Jalen Rose wild-ass jump shot. More fun than a $62 million dollar ex-coach…oh, I could go on. Yes, it’s nice to be the top dog in the NYC area.

What does this team need to do to become a legitimate contender in the East?

Stay healthy, find contributors off the bench, bring along the rookies, and run the damned basketball like the days of old. Convincing Vince Carter to run a fast break every once in awhile would go a long, long way…They could also use some intimidation up front.

Alright, enough foreplay, how will the Nets fare this season?

This is a 50 win team capable of beating the likes of the Heat, Pistons and Cavs (and anyone else in the East). Again, if they stay healthy, find someone to make a shot off the bench, and run like the wind…look for a big season from Richard Jefferson and an impressive rookie campaign from Marcus Williams. No reason why the Nets can’t be the Eastern Conference representative in the Finals once again. As to whether they can win it all, well, it’s up to Rod Thorn and Ed Stefanski to uncover that last missing piece to the puzzle up front, whether it be Josh Boone, someone else already on the roster, or a mid-season trade.