As part of his occasional series, cpawfan asked five Nets fans, all NetsDaily regulars, the same five questions about the 2010-11 season...and next season as well. Here are their answers. If you would like to participate in future editions, please send him a PM on the NetsDaily forum.
Question 1: Now that the dust has settled after the trade deadline, how do you feel the Nets did in utilizing their assets?
GMJigga - Unfortunately so much of my Nets experience is made through forum-speak it's easy to get caught up in it as a common perspective for everyone else. We talk about Prokhorov's money, his expectations/goals, Brooklyn, etc, and can't figure out why we can't name a big player to want to partake! While I think these are all valid points it doesn't change the fact that we're still talking about the Nets' potential. None of those are present characteristics except our Fearless Leader's bank account. Assets are in the same boat: promises of future benefits; cap space, draft picks. It's hard to ask a guy with the leverage of a superstar to take a chance on his future when he's in his prime, so I think we had to acquire one by a trade. USA's basketball machine guarantees there's a Derrick Favors every year, and I'm comforted by transitioning the idea of being good into something that actually transpired. As for Deron's lukewarm statements about an extension? Duh! He's waiting to see if all the talk about the Nets potential continues to come true. Otherwise, the idea of potential is still of only use to us on the forums.
Dumpy - Very, very well, and much better than had they acquired Carmelo Anthony in the deal that was rumored at the end. The Nets obtained a player that is one of the top five (and arguably the very best) at his position. More importantly, in Deron they now have a bona fide leader, which is something they’ve been lacking since Jason Kidd went mentally AWOL. Speaking of Kidd, I like the symmetry of building around another PG, because that has become part of the Nets’ team identity. As to what they gave up: They certainly didn’t overpay for Deron. One way to think about it is that the Nets traded an aging Kidd for Devin Harris and two non-lottery picks; they then traded Harris and three lottery picks for Deron. Compared to the Kidd deal—which everyone was pretty thrilled with, I think—is Deron worth the additional price? I think so. Like Kidd, Deron will make everyone around him better—remember how Mikki Moore became a legitimate offensive threat? Unlike Kidd, Deron is in the prime of his career, and should have five or more years left of high-level performance. Devin was expendable, and while I think he’s a pretty good guy, it’s now obvious that he isn’t nearly as good as we were all led to believe when he was first acquired. He’s just not a winning basketball player. While surrendering Favors hurt emotionally, I’m not convinced that he will develop into anything more than a capable rotation-quality player. Of course, like most people, I would have preferred that the 2011 Nets pick be protected, maybe top five. But one thing that hasn’t been discussed is that the other first round pick in the trade was the one that the Nets acquired from Golden State, which is protected for two years if the pick falls roughly in the top half of the lottery, in which event it would be converted into two second rounders. If that happens, then the trade will have been an absolute steal. I’m a big believer that for an NBA franchise to rapidly improve, it needs to take advantage of a team wishing to rid itself of a disgruntled player or cut costs immediately to get a star player on the cheap. I think the Nets did that here. The only negative part of this process was that the Nets essentially sacrificed an entire season to get their star player. It seems pretty clear now that the trade talk affected the team’s play all season long. Now, we are one year closer to Brook Lopez’s eventual free agency with nothing to show for it.
As for the other trade: I’m cautiously optimistic about Brandan Wright, and the cost of a second-round pick was negligible. I think he’s a good risk for the cost, and is a talented kid who may have just been held back by the system he was in and his repeated injuries. I’d like to see him given an opportunity, especially alongside Deron, who could help him blossom. If the Nets don’t give him an opportunity and don’t resign him, then I will be disappointed and wonder what the point was.
ghoti - A+. I believe Deron Williams is a top five player in the NBA. In fact, I cannot name a player I would rather the Nets had traded for. I also think the price was fair.
Kid Chocolate - It's hard to be disappointed with how the Nets fared at the trade deadline. Disappointment would have run rampant after the Carmelo fiasco, but plucking Deron Williams seemingly out of thin air within 24 hours for less than what would have been given for Carmelo definitely makes the situation a win. Getting one of the best PG's in the game for a fair price, I feel that the Nets did an outstanding job.
pegs - I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I felt like they gave away Terrence Williams for crap. I don't think Vujacic is that good, and I think they could have gotten someone better. I have no proof of that - just a feeling.
However, Deron is the second best point guard in the league. And we got him for an average-at-best point guard in Devin, Derrick Favors, who has only shown potential at this point, and that unprotected first rounder - which sucks, but keeping in mind that we got Deron -- I'll take it. I think they did a GREAT job with turning those assets into Deron Williams.
Lastly, Troy Murphy - he was a lost cause. Over the course of a year, it seems he went from a double-double machine, to a 12th man. Sadly. The expiring contract seemingly wasn't wanted by too many teams. A chance at turning Brandan Wright into a role player off the bench isn't too bad.
Question 2: What is the maximum amount of money and years you think the Nets should spend to resign The Hump?
Dumpy - Very tough call. Of course, it will depend on the terms of the next collective bargaining agreement. I think Humphries has been incredible, and I don’t believe that it is just a contract-year fluke. We’ve also seen a hint of how he will perform with a world-class point guard feeding him the ball. He obviously keeps himself in great shape, so I don’t think we need to worry about him keeping up his physical conditioning. I think he’s a very good partner for Brook Lopez up front. Before the season, I advocated for the Nets to sign someone like Udonis Haslem, and in fact they appear to be somewhat similar in terms of skill set. Haslem was an undrafted rookie who spent a year abroad before beginning his NBA career. In his second season, he averaged roughly 12 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes, with a 54% shooting percentage, starting 80 games. He subsequently signed a 5-year deal worth around $30 million, starting at $5M and escalating to around $7M. Assuming that there will not be a significant change in the salary cap/luxury tax system, I think that is a reasonable deal for Humphries, both in terms of length and cost. If push came to shove, I’d be willing to go a little higher, maybe $33 or $35M over 5 years, with the first year of the contract paying $6M.
Kid Chocolate - Kris Humphries has been a pleasant surprise this year, and become someone that the fans love. I feel that he is in an ideal situation both professionally (playing with a top 3 PG) AND personally (dating Kim Kardashian while living in NYC)...do you think he wants to leave? I'd offer him a 3-4 year contract in the range of about 6 million per year, and raise that offer if he wasn't responsive especially if I could dump Travis Outlaw's contract.
pegs - He's been great. Phenomenal. He's turned from surprising at the beginning of the season, to full-on starter in the second half. I'd say he deserves a good paycheck, but I'd be wary of giving him any more than Travis Outlaw money.
GMJigga - Brook Lopez, heck, Dwight Howard, you need a big man who can complement your front court, and if we're talking about fixating the center position on our main guy, then I think Kris can be in the discussion for a long-term PF. His post defense has been solid, and as long as he continues to rebound and play well off our PG's, I couldn't care less if he doesn't spread the floor (remind me to update this if we can get D-12!). I agree with Pruiti's recent writing that attributes his efficiency to Avery's system (http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1571), especially when I spent so much of last year pounding my keys in frustration by the amount of Hero Shots that Kris tried to take off isolation plays last year. Also factor in that the NY lifestyle (and girlfriends) gives him an extra motivation to stay. Finally, if we can continue to get inflated production out of him, maybe he can be a "Devin Harris piece" in a similar Dwight Howard deal. I wouldn't go higher than ~6 million, with respect to our current CBA numbers.
ghoti - Any answer I give to this question would not be based in reality. Hump has earned a long-term deal in a pay range I would not be comfortable committing to him. I think the best thing to do is to sign and trade him for a useful player with an expiring deal or a star player who has fallen out of favor with his team (like OJ Mayo).
Question 3: Look back at your preseason expectation of the Nets and what were you the most wrong about? What were you the most correct about?
pegs - I was most wrong about Travis Outlaw. I thought he would come in and be the player he was in Portland. He was a big difference maker on that team, especially in the 4th quarter. He's only disappointed everyone with poor shooting, and barely any clutch ability.
On the other hand, Anthony Morrow has been downright amazing. I was ecstatic when we signed him - I felt he was either THE best, or top 3 in the league at shooting. He's been as good as advertised. He's slightly inconsistent, but I can live with that for a little while.
ghoti - I predicted 29 wins and some meaningful games after the All-Star break. That turned out about right. I thought Outlaw would be at least tradable at his salary by the end of the season, but he's now a full-blown albatross. I thought Lopez would progress, but he hasn't. Hopefully, that growth stunt is temporary and he gets back on track next season - especially defensively and with some improved technique, strength and anticipation.
Kid Chocolate - I thought Travis Outlaw would be in the ballpark of being worth the contract he was paid. I was wrong about that. While I don't hate Outlaw, he's clearly not worth the money he's making, and unfortunately it's a burden on the team's cap right now.
Something I was right about was that I thought Anthony Morrow would be lights out from the 3 point line and was a sneaky good signing. He's one of the top shooters in the NBA and has proved that.
Dumpy - Well, I went out on a limb and predicted that the Nets would win 47 games. I suppose that is what I was most wrong about. In retrospect, the ongoing trade drama affected them mentally much, much more than I anticipated. I was also excited about TWill’s continued development and the addition of Troy Murphy, and thought that Favors would gradually improve and that by March he’d be putting up some double-doubles. Obviously, everything turned out very differently. I thought that Morrow would fill a huge void, anticipating that the Nets would return to the drive-and-dish offense that Devin was so effective with when Vince Carter was his backcourt partner. Morrow has been about what has been expected, but he didn’t mesh with Devin as well as I had hoped. Maybe that was partly due to that injury that kept him out for all those weeks.
GMJigga - I think I had us pegged at around 30 wins; figured the rebuilding from 12-wins would be a process. I was concerned that Outlaw and Morrow were being used the same way in Avery's offense, and that largely looks to be the case. Oh, I thought Johan Petro looked very serviceable in preseason. I guess that takes care of the other half of his question.
Question 4: Are you happy with any of the wings and guards (besides Deron) on the Nets roster? Should any of them be back next season?
ghoti - I am very happy with Anthony Morrow. He has done everything I expected and has even shown some leadership and intensity I didn't expect. I look forward to him coming off the bench and playing the role he is suited for. Farmar and Gaines are fine backups and good values. James couldn't stay on the court long enough to be properly evaluated, so he certainly can't be relied upon to be the answer at SF. Sasha is better playing a small role on a good team. He feels he has the freedom to take too many shots without big scorers around. I would just let him sign elsewhere. Outlaw will definitely be a Net next season. Hopefully Deron can help him regain his confidence and at least make him a nice piece off the bench.
GMJigga - When I name my first born (male or female) they're getting two middle names: Sundiata Gaines. His occasional three-point shooting is just an added bonus for me. I love his defense and rebounding, and he's just the kind of hard-worker I want leading the second group, not some bench guy trying to win 6-man awards by shooting the lights out (Farmar, you know what you did). I'm also looking forward to seeing Morrow back next year, pleased to see that his midrange game, defensive rebounding, and stealing is better than I thought. If he's a chip in a trade for OJ Mayo, well, he'll play very good for them.
Dumpy - I would like to see Morrow back, but that may be it. I think Farmar is an unnecessary luxury; when Devin was the starting PG, Farmar was able to play 20 minutes a night (and start occasionally since Devin gets hurt so frequently), but he’ll get just ten minutes a night backing up Deron, and for that he is overpaid at $4M. I think he has actual value, though, and they could use him to either upgrade somewhere or to rid themselves of another contract. I’m indifferent about Sundiata and Uzoh—really, if Deron gets hurt for any length of time, the team is screwed, so they just need a couple of competent backups, which I think they are. James, Graham, and Ross are all somewhat similar and are irrelevant. They should have one defensive specialist, but that’s it. I don’t care who it is, so I’d probably keep James and just let the other two walk. I think that leaves Outlaw, who the Nets are stuck with, and Sasha. I don’t think Vujacic is more than an average player, if that. If he’s looking for the same amount of money he’s currently getting, then I’d let him go. For $2M, sure, I guess I’d keep him, but I’m not holding my breath on that. One thing to note is that, other than Morrow, the FG% of these guards/wings is absolutely terrible. Farmar, Sasha, Outlaw, and Graham are all shooting under 40% from the field. Also, I believe the Nets are one of the worst teams in the league at forcing turnovers, and a lot of that is due to their passive perimeter defense. The wings and guards are clearly areas where the Nets need improvement on both sides of the ball.
pegs - I'm very happy with Morrow and Sundiata Gaines. Morrow is such a great shooter, and I feel our team absolutely needs to hold onto him. I was glad when we kept him in the trade - I was nervous about trading him to the Nuggets back when we had a chance at Melo. Gaines has been great. Good shooter, good at running the team, and great on defense. He gives his all on the floor, and that's all that you could ask for from someone who was signed to be a third string point guard. I have no problems with him playing big minutes. Farmar is pretty good, but he seems like overkill at this point - especially now with Gaines and Deron. He's good at running the team, overly streaky shooter, and iffy on layups. Defense could use work, too - I'd prefer Gaines' defense to his. I wouldn't mind trading him, but I also wouldn't mind if he was still on the team next year. Uzoh would be fine, at a minimum price. He's a good defender. Not sure about everything else. I'd like to see him develop.
Kid Chocolate - I still like Anthony Morrow. He's deadly from deep, and has hit some clutch shots. I'd love to see him stick around for as long as possible, since he really opens up the floor. Travis Outlaw should be traded for whatever team would be willing to take his albatross contract. Jordan Farmar has been a very good backup PG, but I would move him in the right deal to free up salary, because I'm very high on Sundiata Gaines, who has recently signed to a multiyear deal. I like what Sasha Vujacic brings to the table, but unless he would be willing to accept a reasonable contract for a couple years, I'd let him walk.
Question 5: What is the question you most want to see answered on Ask the Announcers?
Kid Chocolate - What was your favorite announcing call that you've ever made?
pegs - How much do you miss the Beadle?
GMJigga - So when do we finish our foreign exchange program with CBS? I want to see Gus Johnson call a Nets game!
ghoti - Why aren't any of you on Twitter? I want to discuss the AFC North with Ian, 70s mustaches with Jim, 80s Hawks and the finer points of telestration with the Czar and just about anything with Marv!
Dumpy - I’d ask if they could archive all the “Ask the Announcers” segments on the YES website! But since that probably isn’t their decision, and because I’m unable to follow directions, I’ll give you three questions I’d like to see them answer: One question that is about announcing, one that is about basketball, and one that is about the Nets. The question about announcing: If you could announce any single sporting event in the history of mankind, what would it be and why? (Curious to see if anyone would dare choose David v. Goliath or Theseus v. The Minotaur, if those are considered “sporting events”). (2) The question about basketball: Fifty years from now, what do you think will be the biggest changes in the NBA? (3) The question about the Nets: Over the past ten years, which Nets have been the biggest locker room jokesters/pranksters, and can you give any examples of things that they did?
Thanks to GMJ, Dumpy, ghoti, Kid Chocolate, and pegs for participating.