Okay Nets Fans, we have a serious problem on our hands: Cap Space.
I think we can all agree that the only way for this team to ever compete for a championship is by acquiring another superstar. Whether through a trade or FA signing is irrelevant. Even though none of us know what the new CBA will look like, many have speculated that it will become much easier for teams to keep their own players, which is good news for us in signing Deron BUT bad news in acquiring another superstar.
Therefore, the most logical thing to do is to take a look at our current roster and make changes that will give us more flexibility in the future for a trade and/or FA signing. There is only one way to do this: clearing cap space by acquiring expiring contracts.
Damion James, $2.2m Trade Exception
Why the Wizards do it -- They get an upgrade at the back up PG and C position in Farmar and Petro, two reasonable contracts that expire 2 years later. Bibby isn't in their long term plans and Farmar would be able to step in to start if Wall's injuries continue to flare up. Petro gives them a body down low, nothing more nothing less.
Why the Kings do it -- Jason Thompson still has potential but he has seen a major decline in minutes and production this year. With DMC looking more and more like the long term post option, one would think the Kings would be looking for a more capable wing player. Omri Cassipi has impressed at times, but Damion James could bring the toughness and rebounding they need.
Why the Sixers do it -- Is this the deal breaker? Travis Outlaw probably has negative trade value right now and the only team that might have any interest in him, the Blazers, have the Small Forward position locked down for the forseeable future with Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum. With all that being said, the Sixers do get a big man with potential in Jason Thompson as well as a draft pick. Elton Brands contract expires at the end of the 2013 season and the Sixers may look to groom him as the replacement of the future.
Why the Nets do it -- One reason, Outlaw. No I kid, I kid but it is a major part. This trade saves the Nets a little under $25 million in long term salaries by obtaining the expiring contracts of Bibby and Nocioni with only having to lose back-ups/fringe starters. Losing Damion James hurts, but if you look at the benefit of only having $36 million dollars in salary committed to the 2011-2012 roster and $25 million committed to the 2012-2013 roster, things look much brighter.
In free agency, this gives the Nets options. Here's why, with only $25 million committed to the roster the following year (2012), the Nets can look to sign a marquee free agents without the risk of taking on too much long term salary AND the added benefit of keeping Deron happy.
If the Nets are able to shed all this salary, and that's a big if, and they are really looking at the future (obtaining another superstar) it would be a great idea to sign a PF like David West or Zach Randolph.
As I said, it will most likely become more difficult to obtain star players with the new CBA, so trading for one may be necessary. With the expiring contracts and draft pick the Nets acquired, they would now be in position to put together a package for Dwight Howard: Brook Lopez, Laker pick prospect, Mike Bibby (expiring), Nocioni (expiring), 2012 #1, 2014 draft pick #1, and Rockets 2012 #1. This is a lot, so if you don't agree with it then just take out the draft picks as you see fit, it doesn't change the trade, but all these assets assure that the Nets would have the best package for Dwight hands down.
Instead of having a core of just Deron and Dwight, having a 3rd option in West makes the Nets an instant title contender. Let's stop kidding ourselves into thinking that Deron will stay with borderline stars and above average players, that model has failed, see: Denver, Utah, Cleveland, Toronto. The goal is to win a championship and that means clearing cap space in order to obtain at least two superstars and this is one way to do it.
What do you think? How can this be improved? Does anyone have their own plan to clear cap space for another superstar?