Mar 14, 2012, 2:56 PM EDT
There are a couple of good reasons for this.
One, the longer they wait the more things that can go wrong. Call it the “bird in the hand” theory. Chris Broussard explains that thinking over ESPN.
While the Nets would love to get Dwight Howard as a free agent, thus enabling them to keep Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and all their other assets to build around Howard and Deron Williams, their preference is to get him before the trade deadline; just because you never know what can happen in free agency.
They’d rather trade for Howard this week and have the security of knowing he’s a Net, even if it means losing some of their good young pieces and draft picks. To that end, the Nets are seeking a third team to sweeten their offer to Orlando. Orlando is believed to be trying to create a bidding war between the Nets and the Lakers for Howard
The other problem with the Nets picking up Howard this summer is that while they have cap space, they do not have enough right to sign Howard to a max deal without making other moves. Challenging moves.
Zach Lowe explains the finances of the Nets in detail over at Sports Illustrated.
(After looking at guaranteed salary, cap holds and the like)… the Nets’ payroll for 2012-13 heading into free agency would be about $46.1 million, leaving them just short of $12 million in cap room to chase the big fella. Howard is eligible for a maximum salary of $18.996 million next season. The Nets, in other words, would be $7 million short of achieving this dream scenario, and there is no way to achieve it without shedding salary before free agency begins.
They could carve out max-level cap room by renouncing their rights to Lopez (and thus lopping off the $7.7 million hold), but he’s as good as gone if they do that…. If New Jersey wants to keep Lopez at market price, they have to shed salary now. Dealing Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro — one a redundant piece, the other just plain bad — for Boris Diaw’s expiring deal would get the job done, and the Bobcats would take in another lottery pick — probably the Nets’ own 2012 pick — as the price for having every NBA die-hard remind them in perpetuity of their role in helping enable a big-market Eastern Conference team to sign a star from a mid-market rival.
The Nets would be a better team if Dwight Howard just came there as a free agent. But if the Magic really are committed to moving Howard in a trade, the Nets need to jump in with both feet. Or they will lose Howard and then Deron Williams as a free agent this summer (hello Dallas), and then the move to Brooklyn will lack real energy and excitement.