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The coach is gone, now what moves must Nets make this offseason?

May 8, 2013, 1:56 PM EDT

Brooklyn Nets' Evans, Lopez and Williams wait during time out in their game with Chicago Bulls in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of their NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals basketball playoff series in New York Reuters

P.J. Carlesimo wasn’t really the problem in Brooklyn. But he wasn’t really the answer, either.

Brooklyn goes into the summer looking for a new coach and that hire is huge because it’s questionable how much the roster can be changed from last season’s 49-win, fourth in the East squad.

That’s the challenge for the Nets this summer — between the coach and roster tweaks they need to ad variety to their offensive game and they need to get some accountability at the defensive end.

For coaches they are looking first at big names — Phil Jackson said no so expect names like Larry Brown, the Van Gundy brothers (though that seems unlikely), Brian Shaw and maybe others. What the Nets need is a creative coach who can push the right buttons, not just the biggest name — they had conversations with Tom Thibodeau last coaching search but didn’t want to hire an assistant, they wanted a name for the marquee. Thibodeau just coached the Nets into the ground in the first round of the playoffs.

That coach has to come in and put in a system that gives Deron Williams freedom and also gets Brook Lopez the ball on the move and in spots where he can be effective. Part of that would be to up the tempo — the Nets played at the third slowest pace in the league last season. With guys like Williams and the mobile Lopez — not to mention MarShon Brooks and others — the Nets should get more easy buckets in transition than they do.

The coach would be helped by adding some versatility to the roster. But that’s where things get tricky — the Nets have $85 million in salary on the books for next season already. While owner Mikhail Prokhorov may be fine with the luxury tax hit, the contracts they have and the restrictions on deals because they are taxpayers will make Billy King’s job hard. They have one free agent they want to bring back in Andray Blatche, but he says he wants minutes to go with his money and the Nets may not have enough of the minutes part (although money always wins that battle).

As for trades, the options are limited. The Nets are not going to trade Williams and Lopez, those guys are set.

They’d be willing to trade Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace but that will be very hard — Johnson has the worst contract in the NBA with three years, $70 million remaining after this season; Wallace has three years, $33 million and just had a dramatic drop in productivity at age 30. We’ve seen in recent years no deal is untradeable, but these come close and they would not get much quality back in return for them.

Kris Humphries has one year, $12 million left and that seems more likely to get shopped around, but there’s not going to be a lot of demand for his services. Maybe he can packaged with Brooks or Mirza Teletovic to get a better deal. Maybe. But any deal is going to be tough to come by because of the trade restrictions on them (as a tax payer) and because they don’t have assets other teams are all that interested in.

Any deal needs to focus on someone at the four spot — when Wallace and Reggie Evans were paired the Nets were easy to defend because neither of them were a real threat to score. But Carlesimo paired them a lot. What the Nets need is more versatility, a guy who can provide different looks other teams have to defend. Humphries and Evans were not those guys, they were they guys you willingly helped off of.

The biggest problem for the Nets is that pretty much what you see is what you’re going to get with the roster. They aren’t making big moves.

Which is why the coaching hire here is key — they need a coach that can elevate the roster they have, because that is the roster they are largely stuck with (for a couple of years). If the Nets want to climb out of the middle of the Eastern Conference pack it’s going to take a good hire as coach and some clever work by Billy King. He overpaid to get a roster together that could win in the new building in Brooklyn, but now the Nets are that roster and things will not be easy.

  1. lmoneyfresh - May 8, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    They should definitely dole out some more inflated contracts to marginal players. Maybe King can get another extension too.

  2. kingbeason52 - May 8, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    The Nets went all in with this team..I dont see how they will make it out of the East with what Indiana, Chicago, & Miami are bringing to the table over the next couple of years…

  3. Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    They better trade Humphries to some sucker who needs cap space for next summer. If they don’t do that, they better just hope they get lucky in the draft lmao.

    • biasedhomer - May 8, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      They could probably trade him and get a decent player on a bad contract .

      To Nets:

      To Wizards:
      1st round pick

      Obviously this makes their cap situation worse, but beggars can’t be choosers.

      • Kevin S. - May 8, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        This actually does not do a thing to their cap situation. They’re already well over $70 million in each year remaining on Nene’s contract. Even if revenues grew enough so that they were under the apron for the 2015-2016 season, the ability to add players with the full MLE/BAE probably wouldn’t help the team nearly as much as getting Nene. I’ve alluded to this unique situation the Nets are in below, how there salary situation has reached the point where there is almost no such thing as a bad contract. Other possibilities, depending on whether the other teams decide to blow it up or sour on the players in question, include:

        Celtics – Green and Lee
        Warriors – Lee (although I’m not entirely convinced he makes the Nets better)
        Bucks – Ilyasova and Gooden
        Hornets – Gordon
        Magic – Afflalo and Nelson/Davis
        Kings – Anything the Nets want that would save the Maloofs a couple hundred thousand before they sell

  4. Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM

    The Heat, Knicks, Pacers, Bulls are all better and will be for at least the next 2-3 years (unless LeBron opts out after next season).

    • biasedhomer - May 8, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      Even if Lebron opted out, I’m sure any team Pat Riley puts out there will not be in the same mess as the Nets.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2013 at 5:49 PM

        I agree.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - May 9, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        The Heat actually have so much flexibility regardless. One of the three is bound to opt out in 2014 or 2015 (each of them can opt out in either year), so if one does, they will have the cap space to add another piece without having to resort to solely using the vet minimum and mini mid-level. Riles knows what he’s doing. Billy King does NOT. That was proven in Philly. Galling how he gets put into a position that requires a master tactician to figure out (last year), and he did the worst possible thing. No one in their right mind thought this amalgamation of average players was going to win the DIVISION, much less a title.

  5. adelphos33 - May 8, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Three years isn’t that long to wait. They weren’t competing for the East until 2014 at the earliest anyway (when Lebron contract is up for opt out). Hire a coach that can extract the most out of the current roster, make moves around the margins and have competitive games against the Knicks, Bulls, etc for a few years. Trade the Joe Johnson expiring contract in two years for young talent.

    • theghostofwillisreed - May 8, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      you’re forgetting who the owner of the team is. he won’t share your patience. he wants to be the king of new york.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - May 8, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Will never happen. They would have to win 5-6 titles (not happening) to even have a chance. Too much Knicks tradition here, 4-5 generations of Knicks fans >>>> a generation of bandwagon fans. Most Nets fans disowned them after they left Newark. They’re nothing but transplants and people who can’t afford Knicks tickets.

        And just like in Washington, a highly transient city, their fanbase will never be strong enough to be better than the Knicks.

      • melkipershero - May 8, 2013 at 10:31 PM

        The fact Mr. Wright got 6 thumbs down shows you guys look at his name and just thumbs down right away. He’s 100% correct on this.

  6. Kevin S. - May 8, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    I don’t think minutes will be an issue for Blatche. There’s no reason he and Brook can’t play extended minutes together, and a competent head coach would make him the starting 4/backup 5. Reggie Evans gets dialed back down to the 15 minutes/night role he’s most suited for. One… not advantage so much, but reality of their cap situation is that there really is no such thing as a bad contract for them so long as it doesn’t extend past 2016, since they won’t have any flexibility until then anyway. With Humphries as the salary ballast, some combination of Brooks, Teletovic and the Nets’ picks can probably land them a good player that would be considered overpaid on a different team but won’t matter to the Nets. Problem is there aren’t really that many good players on overpaid long-term contracts right now.

  7. turdfurgerson68 - May 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    “They’d be willing to trade Joe Johnson and Wallace but that will be very hard”

    Sure, and I’d be willing to sleep with Kate Upton…but that will be very hard too.

    Is this really journalism??? Boy, are the standards getting low.

  8. melkipershero - May 8, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    The Nets are stuck where they are for the next 4-5 years.. that’s all there is to it.

    How Billy King got an extension is just the NBA at it’s worst. A lot of teams do stupid moves every offseason (Hello Beasly $18 million). Mr. Wright and I discussed this a little bit last night. The Nets are what they are.

  9. yousuxxors - May 8, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    they should go get stat and have a collection of the worst contracts in the NBA. if only he didn’t have the body of a 60 year old man. I love him but those knees.

  10. jacobknicks - May 9, 2013 at 6:16 AM

    If read carefully, this article was interchangeable with a profile from a dating website

  11. ryanrockzzz - May 9, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    This team isn’t good enough to win a championship. They got inmpatient, took players who aren’t championship caliber in Wallace/Johnson, and now are stuck in this mess for at least another few years. The only hope is if the owner wants to go above the luxary tax and keep spending to bring in talent. They can hire any coach they want, but there are still 3-4 teams that will be better over the next few years.

  12. Mr. Wright 212 - May 9, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    PJ was in a no-win situation with that team anyway.

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