Remember, the Big Russian talked about having a 5 year plan to win championships, not a one year plan to make the playoffs. I don’t disagree with that strategy. The Nets have $20m in cap space and I don’t want to waste it on another mediocre player. Instead, save it for Dwight.
Next year, how many games will we win and/or will we make the playoffs without making any moves? I watched every game last year and I think we make the playoffs with at least 38 wins because of Deron. Some people might say that’s crazy—it’s a 14 win increase with no changes. Remember, Deron only played about 12 games for the Nets last year. He was hurt during every game he played. If he hadn’t missed so many games after the trade (the birth of his child, the injury), would it be unreasonable to think the Nets would have won 30? I don’t think so. There were 25 games left in the season at the time of the trade. Deron missed 13 of them, played 12 hurt. The Nets won 6 of the first 13. Then, not only did Deron get hurt, but so did DJames, Ammo, Gaines (who was playing very well), and just about everybody else other than Graham and Outlaw (Murphy’s Law?) If we gave this team a full-year together, and training camp, and a healthy Brook (who played much better after the all-star break, and actually showed signs of learning how to pass out of double-teams), I think we make the playoffs in the very-weak Eastern Conference.
What would our line-up be like with no changes? Deron (obviously), Brook (obviously), DJames (probably), Ammo & Hump (more on him in a moment-I know he’s a free agent). Deron is amazing, and Brook is a very good scorer. Ammo’s biggest weakness is that he can’t create his own shot. Deron, and to a lesser extent Brook, will get him open shots, which he makes as well as anybody in the league. DJames is a hustle player, and Hump rebounds and finishes around the rim. MarShon can create his own shot off the bench (to what extent, we’ll see), we’ll have Gaines who played well, Farmar, and Outlaw, who can’t possibly play worse.
My strategy would be to make absolutely sure that we have cap space for Dwight as a free agent. The Nets will need about $17m. If Dwight calls the Magic’s bluff, there are very few teams that will be able to sign him outright—the Nets have to make sure they are one of those teams. Yes, trading Brook for Dwight is a no-brainer, but putting them together, with Deron, is championship material. If we have space to sign him outright, then Orlando loses all bargaining power over the Nets.
The Nets are $20m under the cap, so how do we bring Hump back and make sure we have $17m for Dwight? Heavily front-load the contract. I don’t know what Hump’s market would be, but $22m over 3 years sounds about right. Give him $16m this year, and $3m each of the two years after that. The Nets have plenty of cap space to do that this year, and free up money for following years when they might need it. I know it sounds insane to give Hump $16m in one year, but remember that it’s only $22m over 3 (about the same as Outlaw). If the Nets can move Petro or Farmar, do the same thing with AK47—get all the money on the books this year, so nothing gets in the way of Dwight as a free agent.
If we scrap into the 7th or 8th seed this year with this roster, and then sign Dwight, Deron will be thrilled to sign the extension. Of course, he has to buy into this plan from day 1 (and the Nets should buy him several of those disposable cell phones to call Dwight that Wade used to call LeBron and Bosh).
So my suggestion is we don’t chase after players that will make us perpetually a 4 or 5 seed (JR Smith, David West, etc), but wait it out and hit the home run next summer.
What do you think?