Following the Nets: From the Bottom Up
He's been there before.
Quinn, who was traded with a future second round pick to the Nets for Rafer Alston on Jan. 5, was a member of the 2007-08 Miami Heat. That team featured Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade to start the season. But by the end Shaq had been shipped to Phoenix to clog up the Suns' seven-seconds-or-less offense and Wade was on the shelf with a knee injury.
When their season mercifully limped to a close, the Heat found themselves with a starting lineup which featured Stephane Lasme, a D-League call-up, and Quinn, who started 25 games that season and hasn't started one since. They finished 15-67, having lost 17 of their last 20 games. Pat Riley, who coached the Los Angeles Lakers and Heat to five NBA titles, put that Heat team together. That team was also the last one he coached. It is a fate which will more than likely befall Nets GM and interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe.
"In Miami, there were different circumstances," Quinn noted. "We had a lot of injuries. And the Nets had a lot of injuries at the beginning of the year, and it looks like it snowballed, but there were different circumstances in Miami where you're missing those main pieces.
"It was definitely tough."
Despite it all, Quinn doesn't lament going from South Beach to the 7-58 Nets. He had been inactive with the Heat all season and got a chance to play in New Jersey. And in the Meadowlands, he said there hasn't been a defeatist mindset with the Nets.
"I've been here for about two months," Quinn said. "The wins aren't piling up, but for the most part we have a good group of guys on our team. It's a fun group of guys to be around.
"Of course, losing is never fun and there are moments that are tougher than others because we're losing, but the only thing we can do now is to find the positives any way we can."
There have been positives recently, including wins in Boston and in New York in the last month and playing Memphis, Dallas and Oklahoma City tough. Such strides have given the Nets hope that they'll break through, win a few games and leave the specter of the nine-win, 1972-73 76ers where they think it belongs -- in the past.
"It comes up," Quinn said, "but it's not something we have hanging somewhere in the locker room, but it's in the back of everyone's minds. Everyone knows about that record and everyone knows where we stand."
Quinn rattles of the names of the Nets talented young players -- Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Courtney Lee -- as three examples of how the Nets can avoid infamy.
"Those are very good players in this league; two out of three of those guys have been to NBA Finals," Quinn said referring to Harris in Dallas in 2006 and Lee with the Magic last season. "They know what it's like to be successful."
Quinn, too, knows what its like to be a part of the postseason party as he played in five games last season with the Heat.
"Miami was a first-class organization and it's the same way here," Quinn said of the Nets.
As for this season, Quinn, and the Nets to a man, have said that the Nets will continue to work in pursuit of wins, especially win No. 10.
"In no way are we giving up on the season," Quinn said. "Everyone comes to practice and plays hard and competes hard."
"Personally, I try to work every day and we're professionals. We still have a job to do and help our team win. The majority of the team has the same attitude toward things to help our team gather some wins down the stretch."
Quinn and six other Nets could become free agents this offseason, clearing the cap space the Nets desperately want to attract one of the gilded free agents of the 2010 class. Despite the ups and mainly downs of this season, Quinn said he'd like to come back to Jersey.
"Yeah, I would enjoy it," Quinn said of a return. "Although I've only been here for two months, I've had nothing but good experiences with the organization and the staff. I would love to be a part of the solution around here.
"We have a good core group of guys who are talented and I think that the future is bright for the Nets."