Now that the new logo and colors festivities are out of the way, it is time to talk about what actually matters: basketball. In the past, the Nets have claimed that “it’s all new”. That was always a lie; they had the same boring players, fans, and arenas. This year, it actually will be all new when the Nets move to Brooklyn. In this article, I will talk about the current roster and chances of each player going to Brooklyn, the NBA Draft, possible trades, and free agency. Let’s first look at who the Nets will definitely have on the roster next season barring a trade:
Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, Marshon Brooks, Miami Heat’s second round pick.
That’s it. There is a possibility that every other player on the current roster will not be in Brooklyn next season. Now, I’ll talk about every other player on the roster and give a rough estimate of their chances of going to Brooklyn and some comments, in order of least important to most important.
Armon Johnson: 30% chance of going to Brooklyn.
AJ had I guess a strong-ish finish to the season this year. However, he was outplayed by Ben Uzoh in the final game of the regular season, but I don’t really think that game is worth anything. Coach Avery definitely likes Armon, but it is just as likely that he will return to the D-League, go to Europe, or maybe go to another NBA team as it is that he will go to Brooklyn.
Sundiata Gaines: 20% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Sundiata was really not impressive this season after a good finish to the 2010-11 campaign which earned him a contract for this season. He started way too many games, but that was because of injuries to Deron Williams and Jordan Farmar. One can definitely argue that Armon Johnson, a D-League player on a 10-day contract, was more valuable to the Nets than Sundiata. I will be surprised if he makes an NBA roster next season.
Damion James: 65% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Damion James has a team option next season which the Nets will probably pick up because it is not for a lot of money. James has only played in 32 games in his first two NBA seasons, and if he proves he cannot stay healthy next season, he will probably be out of the NBA. I don’t think Damion is very talented and he doesn’t have a true position (in between a sf and pf). His time in the NBA may be running out.
Deshawn Stevenson: 50% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Even though Deshawn rarely looked like an NBA player this year, he always got a lot of praise from Coach Avery and he seems to be a great locker room presence. Deron Williams has said that Deshawn is his best friend on the team, so the Nets may bring back Deshawn just to lure D-Will into resigning. It is also very possible that Deshawn will not resign with the Nets if he wants to play for a contender and the Nets don’t appear to be one. Deshawn enjoyed his year in New Jersey, but I don’t know if he’s going to want to tolerate another year of losing if the Nets can’t make a splash either via trade of free agency.
Shelden Williams: 50% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Shelden was a savior for the Nets for much of the season, and always gave a full effort at the starting center position. Obviously, Shelden is not talented enough to be a full-time NBA starter, and if he returns to the Nets, he will most likely back up Brook Lopez (or Dwight Howard). I think Shelden likes living in the New York area and liked starting all those games for the Nets last season, but I don’t think he has any loyalty to the team. It’s a toss-up whether he stays or goes.
Jordan Williams: 65% chance of going to Brooklyn.
J-Will will become a free agent at the end of this season. The Nets obviously thought he improved a lot at the end of the season after coming into training camp out of shape, but realistically, he can be an 8th or 9th man at best on a good NBA team. I think the Nets will want to give him another shot next season and I expect to see him in Brooklyn.
Jordan Farmar: 65% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Farmar has a player option for next season, but he is definitely leaning towards not picking it up and becoming a free agent. Farmar has always played in big markets: he went to college in Los Angeles and has only played in the NBA for the Lakers and Nets. That is why I think he will resign with the team. I also think Farmar is kind of a hipster, and Brooklyn is the capital of hipsters. I will be a little surprised if Jordan does not open up the Barclays Center with the Nets next season.
Gerald Green: 75% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Gerald Green has said that he wants to sign with the team that gave him a second chance in the NBA, and it will really take something crazy to happen for him to leave. Ideally, he will be the sixth man on the Nets next year, and if the Nets can somehow assemble a good roster in the offseason, he may be in the running for sixth man of the year. That is very much a long shot, though.
Kris Humphries: 70% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Okay, now we are really getting into the important players. Humphries signed a one-year deal with the Nets before last season with a lot of question marks because of the whole Kardashian thing. He answered those questions by having a career year, and he is a proven NBA rebounder, even though he is undersized at only 6’9. Expect a team to sign The Hump to a multi-year deal this offseason. The reason I give Humphries such a good chance of resigning with Brooklyn is that I don’t think other teams want him. He was booed in every visiting arena he went to this season and he is not liked by anybody except for Nets fans. I don’t think other teams will want him because they may think he will be a distraction and the fans will not like him. This can become a great thing for the Nets, as they may be able to sign him at a discounted price.
Brook Lopez: 70% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Brook Lopez has made it clear that he wants to be a Brooklyn Net. He is very well-liked by fans, coaches, and ownership alike, and he has proven that he is one of the best offensive centers in the game. He is a restricted free agent this offseason, meaning that the Nets will be able to match the offer of any other team. I am hoping that a team (possibly Houston or Golden State) doesn’t overpay Brook like the Nuggets overpaid Nene last season to prevent him from returning to the Nets. I don’t think this will happen. The best chance Brook has of leaving the Nets is if he is traded to Orlando in a sign-and-trade for Dwight Howard. There is a good chance of this happening. Much more on Dwight later on in this article.
Gerald Wallace: 40% chance of going to Brooklyn.
The Nets traded a protected first round pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace this season, and Wallace has a player option for next season. Crash has said that he doesn’t want to play on a one-year contract, so he will most likely opt-out and become a free agent. I think the Nets are happy about this, because it opens up a lot more cap room. If Crash opted in, they would have owed him 11.5 million for next season, which would really limit their options. However, the Nets definitely want to resign Gerald Wallace. He has shown that he never gives up and he always hustles and always wants to play. I think he was the only player that actually wanted to play in any of the last 5 games of the season. I am hoping that the Nets can resign Wallace in the range of a 3 year, 20 million dollar deal. If they are not able to resign Wallace and their draft pick goes to Portland (more on that later), the Wallace trade could go down as one of the worst in NBA history. They would have pretty much handed their lottery pick in a very deep draft to Portland for absolutely nothing. I am praying this doesn’t happen. The reason Wallace would not want to resign with Brooklyn is that he might want to play for a contender. He has spent most of his career in Charlotte, who never had a chance to win anything, and he may be sick of all the losing. One team to watch out for is Memphis. Wallace is from Alabama and went to college there, and obviously likes the south. Memphis is Alabama’s NBA team and is also a contender. If the Grizzlies combined Wallace with Tony Allen, they may become the best defensive team in the NBA.
Deron Williams: 60% chance of going to Brooklyn.
Even if the Nets are able to resign everyone else above, it won’t matter unless they can convince Deron to stay. He has a player option for next season, but he has decided that he will opt-out. When the Nets made the trade with Utah to acquire Deron Williams in 2011, they knew that they were taking a humungous risk and that the trade could set the franchise back 5 years if it didn’t work out. Deron has said that he likes the direction of the franchise, likes Avery Johnson, and likes the ownership. He has also said that he will make a “basketball decision” on where he will play next season. This means that if the Nets appear to be at least a playoff team next season, he will probably resign with the team. If Deron doesn’t resign with Brooklyn, he will most likely go to the Dallas Mavericks. Deron is from the Dallas area and the Mavs have been one of the best NBA franchises over the last 10 years. I have a feeling that Deron is going to resign, but he is very mysterious and anything can happen.
The NBA Draft, trades, and free agents.
The only thing the Nets are guaranteed in the draft this year is the Miami Heat’s second round pick, which has a good chance at being the very last pick in the draft. Their lottery pick is only top-3 protected, so if the Nets don’t get lucky and win a top-3 pick, the pick will be heading to Portland. This is definitely the most important draft lottery in Nets history because so much is riding on them getting a top-3 pick. If they get one, the Gerald Wallace trade looks like a genius move, but if they don’t, it is one of the worst trades in NBA history.
The Nets finished the season tied for the 5th worst record in the NBA, so chance says that the Nets will not be getting a lottery pick this year. However, there a lot of conspiracy theorists questioning the draft lottery, and David Stern has every reason to give the Nets a top-3 pick, if not the #1 pick, this year. Stern wants the NBA to succeed in Brooklyn, and the best way to get fans and become successful is to have a good team. Getting a top-3 pick will go a long ways towards putting a good team on the court on opening night at the Barclays Center.
The reason getting a top-3 pick would be good for the Nets may not even be because of the player that would be selected. It could be for trade value. If the Nets were to get the #1 pick, I would be surprised if they didn’t trade the pick to Orlando for Dwight Howard. It will work out perfectly for both teams. For Orlando, it is clear that Dwight Howard does not want to be there. If they had the #1 pick, they could potentially pick the next Dwight Howard. For Brooklyn, the Nets are in win-now mode. They don’t have time to let Anthony Davis develop into a great player. They need a great player now. Also, if the Nets landed Dwight before the draft and free agency, it would be very hard for Deron Williams to turn them down. If the Nets had the “Double-D’s”, they would become an instant contender. Unlike the Knicks who have two offensive and shoot-first superstars, the Nets would have one offensive star (Deron) and one defensive one (Dwight). In fact, Deron would make Dwight into an offensive star by giving him great lobs and making extraordinary passes. Dwight will help out Deron by protecting the paint and giving Deron more of an opportunity to take risks and get steals on defense. Obviously, this is the best case scenario for the Nets, but this year I think it really has a good chance of happening.
In free agency, the Nets must obviously try and secure their own free agents before going after free agents from other teams. They will be trying their hardest to keep Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, and Gerald Green before trying to go after free agents from around the NBA. Two names that have been mentioned as possibly coming to the Nets are Kevin Garnett and Ersan Ilyasova. I’m not crazy about either of them and would rather have the Nets resign their players than those two guys. Garnett had a very good season this year, but he really is very old. He is not who the Nets need in trying to build a roster. Ilyasova is much younger, but I don’t really like him. I would rather have Humphries. One free agent who I would like the Nets to pursue is Jason Kidd from Dallas. Instead of the Mavs stealing the Nets point guard, we will steal theirs. Kidd is a former Net and I would love to see him end his career with the Nets in Brooklyn (maybe with a championship ring, though that is a long, long ways away). If the Nets were able to sign Deron and Dwight, Kidd’s addition would be even greater. The Nets would have two of the best passers in the game and arguably the best dunker and finisher. That would be very hard to contain. Other free agents they could explore signing are O.J. Mayo from Memphis and Eric Gordon from New Orleans. Both are explosive shooting guards who can drop 25 on any given night. Gordon is definitely the more complete player, and he can turn into a star if he was in a big market. This maybe would cause some conflicts with Marshon Brooks, but I’m sure the Nets would be happy to deal with that when the time comes. The Nets definitely have a lot of options on the table this summer.
This is unquestionably the most important offseason in the history of the Nets franchise. It’s now or never guys. The Nets have wasted the last 5 seasons in New Jersey waiting to move to Brooklyn and the time has finally come. Will they be able to draw free agents to Brooklyn? Who knows. Only time will tell if the Nets can finally become an attractive franchise.
Which current Nets do you most want to be resigned? What free agents do you want to see in a Brooklyn uniform next season? Post your answers in the comments section below.