The Nets face a bit of a double edged sword in 2011 when faced with roughly $20m in cap space next summer.
On one hand, the Nets want to build a competitive team around Deron, but on the other, they want to build a championship team around Deron and a major 2012 FA, like say. oh I don't know.. Dwight Howard... and maintain flexibility.
Finding the right balance is going to be key.
IMO it's going to make sense to spend as much money as we can this summer. A. we don't know when we'll have this type of money again and B. we need to accumulate as many assets and as much talent as possible. Also, we can't assume Dwight will be a FA.
Whatever we do, I think we need to still spend on players that are a. young enough to improve but proven enough to win. If we do have the chance to pursue a player like Dwight Howard, the Magic are going to want assets back.. meaning picks, prospects and talent. We still have 2 extra picks to play with (and the money to buy more), we do have some prospects.. namely Lopez, but we do not have talent.
IMO... these are the players we need to pursue in 2011 free agency.
Aaron Afflalo - Denver will probably have to chose between him and Chandler since they have so many free agents and choices to make, but I expect him to get paid nicely. I will sound like a broken record but if he can be had for decent money we do it.
Nick Young - semi-one dimensional but has improved exponentially over the course of a year.
Marco Belinelli - he goes with our international theme, but the kid is talent and the financially strapped Hornets may not keep him.
Marcus Thornton - speaking of Hornets.. or past ones, the Kings will probably keep him becuase they have more cap space than they know what to do with., but if not....
Jason Richardson - a proven talent who may fly under the radar. I think he's still on the right side of 30. If he can be had for value, I'd be ok with him.
JR Smith - given his history I can see many teams being scared of him, but his talent cannot be denied. He's starting quality and an explosive scorer
Leandro Barbosa - seriously. An Ellis-lite. Another player whose stock has gone way down.. maybe we get a steal here?
The best value of Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green and Thadeus Young. All are talented young players with excellent size for the 3. I'd be happy with any of them, assuming the price was right. Otherwise...
Tayshuan Prince - I've never been overly high on him thinking he and many Pistons (other than Billups and Wallace) were more a result of their system, and I think his reputation will lead to a big paycheck, but if for whatever reason he falls through the cracks, we should get him.
Carl Landry - Would be the best offensive PF we've had since... a long time. Undersized, but can score with the best.
Glen Davis - Another immensly talented scorer who can also play defense and rebound... but undersized.
Jonas Jerebko - Do we take advantage of the Pistons' ownership situation and target some of their free agents? This kid is young and good.. but injured.
Dante Cunningham - a very underrated player IMO. Can play 3-5.
AK - At his age, size and the way the NBA is played, I like him more as a 4 for the Nets. He's obviously been a target for some time.
Earl Clark - barely proven anything, but the talent has always been there. Great size and skill none the less.
We also need to get some players off of our team as well. Every dollar is going to count and there is no point in having overpriced or even medium priced back-ups:
Jordan Farmar - A nice PG and decent value, but not needed behind Deron for 10 minutes a night. (I'm not a fan of him at the 2), I think a team would take him from us and give us something reasonable back in return. His spot can be filled by Ben Uzoh and vet minimum PG with experience (Earl Watson type player)
Johan Petro - overpaid, but not too badly. Either way I'd rather spend that $3m elsewhere, and find minimum level back ups to Brook... Earl Barron, Kurt Thomas, Songalia, etc. Again, we need to beef up our positions of need with talent and salary, not our 2nd strongest position.
Travis Outlaw - it would be great if we could get rid of him, but I don't see it happening. It would cost too much to dump him so I think we are stuck with him. If anything lock him in the gym all summer with a sports psychologist. a basketball, a weight set and see what happens.
Don't resign unless we get a great value:
Sasha Vujacic - A nice role player, but nothing more. He would be ok off the bench, but that is where Anthony Morrow should play. We need a starting caliber SG, and neither of them are it.
Kris Humphries - A better role player, but still not starting quality. I would love to have him off the bench, but his cost may be prohibitive. Again we need a starter at this position, and Kris is not a starter.
But..we do sign or match an offer these guys if we get good value on them.
I would not surprised to see a foreigner (or two) on the team next season. With all the international scouting the Nets have done and invested in, I can see a player or two being signed, or at least drafted for next year. Speaking of the draft...the draft is another area we should do well with 2 picks, cash and Billy King.
Either way the point is spend, Billy King, spend. There will always be a demand for talent, and their will always be teams with cap space and trade exceptions willing to facilitate deals later on by taking on salary/players. I can see Cleveland being a help next year with Jamison's massive expirer and their need to get younger or a team like Sacramento which will have massive cap space helping us out. And the 125% rule on trades is our friend as well.
If the Nets follow my suggestion expect a much improved team, in the playoffs, with one of the best PG's in the game. And while we might have the money to sign free agents in 2012, our main competition (NY) or main competition for Dwight (LAL) won't be able to either. We, like those two teams will have to rely on our assets to get a trade done for marquee players. I like our chances with Deron at PG, and Lopez as a trade piece.