Jul 4, 2012, 2:19 AM EST
The Brooklyn Nets are a much better team right now than they were 72 hours ago.
They will walk onto the court at the Barclays Center with an entertaining lineup, a team with offensive firepower, something you couldn’t really say about the squad last seen in New Jersey (they move to Brooklyn this fall). They should be a team on the second tier in the East along with Indy, Boston and the Knicks. They won the battle to keep the face of the franchise in point guard Deron Williams. They should be popping champagne at the Nets headquarters tonight.
But they are not title contenders, not unless guys who have never been good at it suddenly learn to defend and board. And the way this team is built — with massive contracts for some players seeming past their prime — the moves of the last 72 hours will come back to haunt them in a couple years.
And Dwight Howard is not going to be bailing them out — all these bold moves make it nearly impossible for the Nets to trade for Howard (and there is no way they can sign him as a free agent next summer now). Howard still wants to land in Brooklyn, but it is going to take a Houdini-like escape from the confines of the CBA to find a way to free up salary to pull it off.
Nets GM Billy King was clearly under orders from owner Mikhail Prokhorov to get a team together that could open a new building, one that could compete in the nation’s largest market with the much more established Knicks. Something the Nets could sell.
Deron Williams is an Olympian and arguably the second best point guard walking the face of the earth. He’s also taken to living in New York City and will be a great ambassador for the team.
They added Joe Johnson and while we can all agree his contract is ridiculously large — $89 million over four more years — the guy is an All-Star and he can play. Johnson averaged 18.5 points per game last year, shot 38 percent from three and had a PER of 18.5.
The Nets also have Gerald Wallace, a guy who averaged 15.2 points a game, is an efficient shooter and can defend. Somehow the Nets held on to MarShon Brooks, the impressive rookie that a lot of teams coveted. They added Mirza Teletović, a quality stretch four from Europe. Reggie Evans will be a fan favorite but drive coach Avery Johnson crazy.
There are some pieces to like. This Nets roster should put up points. If Avery Johnson can get them to defend as a unit they could be better than just good.
But they are still looking up at Miami (as is everyone) and a healthy Chicago. And getting more quality pieces to change that will be nearly impossible. As you read this, the Nets have $54 million committed to six players (via Zach Lowe at Sports Illustrated who did the math). The salary cap is $58 million, and what is more by using the full $5 million mid-level exception on Teletović the Nets have locked themselves in with essentially a hard cap of $74 million they cannot exceed.
Bottom line is the Nets have $20 million to round out the roster and we haven’t talked about re-signing Brook Lopez or Kris Humphries yet. And they want to keep Lopez for sure, ideally both. Very quickly the Nets are going to be looking and inexpensive veteran minimum deals because they will be running out of space below the $74 million apron (as it is called in the CBA).
Which comes back to the dream of trading for Howard. First off, the Magic have consistently rejected an offer of Lopez, Brooks and picks for Howard and that is not suddenly going to change. The Magic have all summer or longer to make a move, they are not the ones that take the PR hit for how they handled the situation. They are more than happy to let Howard twist in the wind. And they sure as heck don’t care where he wants to go, they want the best deal for themselves.
More than that, Howard (set to make $19.5 million next year) along with Johnson, Williams, Wallace and the other couple guys already under contract but not shipped out would be owed nearly $70 million. So that leaves $4 million to get seven more guys. You’re not getting quality for that.
There are scenarios you can create where the Nets get some third party to help them out, taking on salary and opening the door for them to get Howard. But not realistic ones. And you can bet no GM in the East is going to help the Nets create another Super Team in their conference.
No, what you see with the Nets is pretty much what you get. They will be good. They will be fun. They will compete with the Nets and the fans in Brooklyn will love them. Jay-Z will love them.
But in a few years the real cost of opening the Barclays Center the right way will come home to roost.
Dec 18, 2013, 2:49 AM EST
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while salivating over the idea of a “Rounders” sequel. Or wincing at the idea. (Count me with the latter group.) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Two clutch game winners in a row. Tuesday night he had 23 of his 36 points in the second half…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:15 AM EST
To me, that looked like the start of a punch that Jordan Hamilton thought better of before it landed but couldn’t stop. And Hamilton is going to get suspended for that. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter of a game where the Thunder were in control (up 10), the Thunder were heading back…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:10 PM EST
This is the one thing that is certain: Omer Asik will get his wish and be traded in the next 48 hours. Houston still plans to move him by Dec. 19 — after that date and they can’t flip any of the assets they get at the trade deadline. Where he is going to land…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:39 PM EST
Just two nights ago, Damian Lillard hit the game winner in overtime to lift the Blazers over the Pistons. Tuesday night he was playing the hero again. The Blazers and Cavaliers were tied 116-116 with 7.1 seconds left and Portland inbounded the ball and went with the simple 1-4 flat play and let Lillard create. I’m…
Dec 17, 2013, 8:17 PM EST
San Antonio’s ability to be without a player, just plug in another guy and make it work is the stuff of legend. However, it’s a lot harder for them to do this with Tony Parker than anyone else — he is the focal point of the offense. Yet that’s what the Spurs are going to…
Dec 17, 2013, 7:13 PM EST
Because the Knicks don’t have enough other issues to deal with… Mike Woodson said on Tuesday afternoon that he could be without Amar’e Stoudemire for a while — with Kenyon Martin out too Tyson Chandler can’t bet back fast enough (likely Friday). Here’s Woodson’s direct quite, via ESPNNewYork.com. “Amar’e’s going to be out a while,”…
Dec 17, 2013, 6:01 PM EST
You need to go back seven seasons to find one where at least one NBA coach wasn’t canned before Christmas. Right now we are eight days away from Santa’s visit and it looks like he once again may not bring any pink slips in his bag. If that changes, it’s because of the Knicks. While…
Dec 17, 2013, 5:04 PM EST
It’s been known for a while the Cavaliers have been testing the trade market for Dion Waiters. We told you last week that there was buzz the Sixers could look to move Evan Turner — he leads them in scoring and as a free agent this summer could draw a bigger contract than they want…
Dec 17, 2013, 4:17 PM EST
Golden State is just one more loss away from being a .500 team — for all the sexy play of their sharpshooters they are not playing good defense anymore not winning games (6-9 in last 15, with the 17th ranked defense in the league). Who they miss is Andre Iguodala — and they could get…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:47 PM EST
UPDATE 3:47 pm: It didn’t take long for multiple quality sources to shoot this idea down. Spoke w/source moments ago who said the latest Rajon Rondo rumor that he will be traded to the Sacramento #Kings, is "not happening."— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) December 17, 2013 FYI re: Rajon Rondo rumor, Celtics & Kings have…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:15 PM EST
Google search records are not the best way to test the popularity of something, but it is a pretty democratic way. Bottom line is you find out who people want to find out more about. As a fun little NBA treat, Google released Tuesday their most searched NBA players… and if you have to guess…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:59 PM EST
Last we checked on Brian Shaw, the Nuggets coach was blaming his team’s slow starts on pizza and nachos. But replacing the junk food with healthier options hasn’t turned Denver’s fortunes early in games. The Nuggets have lost all eight first quarters this month, though they’ve gone 5-3 in those games. The issue isn’t isolated…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:25 PM EST
If you still want to buy Michael Jordan’s home you can — it’s still on the market. Jordan has been trying to sell his Chicago compound — which has 9 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a dining room table that is like a grid of the city of Bagdad, a pool with a grass island in the…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:57 PM EST
Chris Kaman, after doing it with the Mavericks last season, knows playing on a one-year contract comes with all kinds of complications. Before the season, he said: There’s just so many things that can happen, and the biggest one is that you’re on a one-year deal and you’re worried about it the whole time and…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:22 PM EST
There wasn’t much to see after halftime of the Heat’s easy win over the Jazz — Utah got the ball inside and scored on second chance points in the first half, but talent wins out in the NBA and Miami has much more than Utah. Miami turned this into a rout. However one potentially important…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:44 AM EST
Alec Burks scored a career-high 31 points against the Heat on Monday night, so let’s all overreact. That should be easy for Marvin Williams, who’s been overreacting to his Jazz teammate’s good play for a while. Via Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: “He had a hell of a game,” Utah forward Marvin Williams…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
The NBA warned Tony Wroten for flopping, and he deserved it. Here’s video (hat tip: Ben Golliver of Point Forward): Wroten was wide open when he shot, and he still fell. He clearly stuck his foot out to either draw contact or lose his balance. It’s the type of play that could get someone injured.…
Dec 17, 2013, 10:41 AM EST
He was simply having a wonderful Christmas time. As part of his holiday festivities Paul McCartney — That would be Sir Paul McCartney to you, the legendary Beatles singer, founder of Wings, followed by an amazing solo career — went to the Nets-76ers game Monday night in Brooklyn and didn’t sit hidden away in a luxury…
Dec 17, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The Knicks recently elevated Pablo Prigioni’s role, and they were better for it. In the three games prior to Monday’s contest against Washington, Prigioni played 31, 39 and 31 minutes – his first 30-minute games since a season-opening win over the Bucks. And he produced: 16 assists, one turnover and eight steals in the three…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Knicks’ latest setback, a home loss to the Wizards, does what every New York loss does: It intensifies the public scrutiny on Mike Woodson. But within the walls of Madison Square Garden, that’s not necessarily the case. First of all, who knows what James Dolan is thinking? There’s little sense using logic to guess…
- Tuesday night NBA grades: Damian Lillard is clutch 0
- Nuggets Jordan Hamilton ejected for striking Thunder’s Steven Adams (VIDEO) 3
- Asik trade update: Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia most likely destinations 6
- Another day, another Damian Lillard game-winning shot 10
- Spurs’ Tony Parker out at least two games with shin injury 2
- NFL legend Jim Brown takes shot at Kobe Bryant, Kobe fires back (104)
- Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford (50)
- Deserving or not Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade among All-Star starters in early voting returns (48)
- Pau Gasol expresses frustration with D’Antoni offense. Lakers have to think trade. (46)
- Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard” (45)