Brook and Dwight Together?

After reading the earlier NetsDaily post that the Nets are unlikely to extend Brook - and seeing that many fans were upset about this, I thought a dedicated post made sense.

First, the Nets have zero incentive to extend Brook before January 28th. He is recovering from a fractured foot, and on a big man, you really have no clue how well he is going to recover and if he will have the same abilities as he had prior to the injury. The biggest mistake the Nets could make (or any team for that matter) is extending a player to a sizeable long term contract without knowing how he has recovered from a potentially career affecting injury. I am an optimist, and think that Brook is the model of durability in the post and will be fine (also good sign that his twin brother Robin had/recovered from same injury). But you have to realize it would be a bad business decision for the Nets to extend without knowing how he has healed.

Secondly, if the Nets were to extend Brook before January 28th, it makes him much harder to trade in a deal to Orlando for Dwight Howard. Perhaps Orlando prefers to own his rights and have the ability to match any deal for him - expecting market offers to come in lower. Perhaps Otis Smith then wants to use Brook as a trade piece and thinks will be easier to do this if he is a RFA. Who knows? There are also issues with the new CBA which I am not familiar enough to discuss.

All that said however, my biggest feeling is that the Nets (thru DWill) have a very good sense of what Dwight Howard is really thinking of doing. And based on comments from Orlando and from Dwight, I really get the sense that Dwight is going to play out his contract in Orlando and become an UFA this summer. Many in the media want to argue that the Magic owner (DeVos) would never chance losing Dwight in free agency for nothing, but the guy is 85 years old and desperately wants to win. He is not thinking that if the Magic obtain assets and rebuild, they can compete again in 5 years. He has a quality squad with the most dominant big man in the game - capable of 40-20 games. I think if any of us were in DeVos's shoes - we would roll the dice and go for the Finals appearance this year. Remember, DeVos killed the deal in the preseason when the situation with Dwight seemed toxic. Now they are winning and look like a strong competitor......why would he cave now and make a trade? Especially since you don't want to showcase your new arena to the world during the All Star game with D12 wearing a Nets jersey....and at that point, the Magic will be firmly entrenched in the playoff run - and I think you man up and hope for the best. If Orlando makes it to the Finals and wins - it becomes a lot easier to a) stomach him leaving and b) convince him to resign and look to defend the crown.

I think Dwight is adamant about leaving for a brighter market, and it seems based on his comments, media reports and his friendship with DWill that Brooklyn is where he wants to be. He will make bags of money in endorsements that he would never sniff in Orlando, and apparently Addidas has hinted that his deal is worth much more money in Brooklyn than in Chicago or Orlando, etc. So to take less for 4 years in contract money is easily made up for in endorsement money. He may already have that "difference" guaranteed by Addidas in a wink wink agreement with his agent. You and me will never know.

However, Dwight (or at least his agent and the sneaker reps) know that to truly maximize his value - he needs to be in a winning situation. Forcing his way out of Orlando in a trade is a PR hit (ask Lebron), and going to a team that does not win in Year 1 is another big hit to his image (ie. finances). So having seen what happened to the Heat when LeBron and Bosh went there to team with DWade - it creates a very watered down roster with little depth. Depth wins championships. That is why Dallas beat the Heat last year. Forcing your way to NJ in a trade will absolutely kill the assets that NJ has and you will have a worse supporting cast than Miami....meaning you won't win. So, the logical thing for Dwight (and everyone else) is for Dwight to compete for a championship in Orlando and become a Free Agent. DWill has to suffer thru a tough losing season (but at least it is only 66 games...). The Nets can exclusively focus on making small moves to improve the roster for next year (OJ Mayo?) while developing Marshon Brooks to become a star scorer at the 2 guard (seemingly DWill is onboard with playing alongside Brooks). The Nets also can guage the health of Brook Lopez once he returns from his injury and get a sense for the chemistry between him and DWill on the floor - remember they have very little minutes together. They will still control Brook's rights and have the ability to match any deal for him. And with Petro and Okur and Shelden Williams on the roster, the Nets can really start to use Brook in more of a PF role - to get a sense for how he will perform as a PF. Oh, and they are sure to have a lottery pick in a stacked draft where they can address their SF position (Barnes, Jones, Gilchrist-Kidd) for the future.

And lastly, for those of you who have questions about Brook playing the PF next to Dwight.......Brook's game is tailor made to be the complementary PF next to Dwight (and vice versa). Brook is more of a stretch 5 than he is a traditional back to the basket Center. His game is at his best when he is active on pick and pops, extended elbow jumpers and foul line extension jumpers. Brook also has the size to post up smaller PFs in the paint and has an array of offensive moves in the paint and is a good passing big man - meaning he can feed the shooter on the perimeter or dump the ball across the paint to Dwight for an easy bucket. Dwight on the other hand, is a beast in the paint - active on put backs, alley oops, and pick and rolls. But outside of 8 feet from the paint, he is a major offensive liability ( don't want him shooting 15 foot jumpers). Offensively, their games are perfect complements for each other.

Defensively, Dwight is an absolute monster in the paint and will single handedly control the paint (and the glass). Brook has the length to flash out to cover stretch fours and even if athletically they can get past him, they are moving into a brick wall in Dwight. For those PFs who spend the majority of their time in the post - they are going to have to inch outside as the paint will be sealed off with Dwight - forcing them to play outside of their comfort zone and reducing their chances on the glass. And for those who consider Brook to be a poor rebounder - Hump is an excellent rebounder and limited his opportunities (nor did Brook need to focus as much on rebounding as he did on scoring). That is a good balance with Dwight. And remember, Brook has not played alongside any strong defensive PF or strong perimeter defenders in his career - so oftentimes he would have to step up to stop man in penetration and have nobody rotate to his man under the basket - resulting in easy bucket.

The moves (or non-moves) the Nets Front Office is making right now is exactly what they should be doing. Keep ultimate roster flexibility (cap space) while looking to acquire the right pieces to play a complementary role, possibly pick up extra assets (OJ Mayo, draft picks), and most importantly, focus on developing Marshon Brooks and creating the chemistry in the backcourt of him and DWill. There seems to be a plan in place, and tihs team is competing most nights. I really get the sense that Dwight will be a Net but he will come as a free agent and not as a trade - meaning the Nets keep their core in place and are instantly a favorite in the East Brooklyn Year 1. So keep your heads up, enjoy watching Marshon improve before our eyes, and the future should be very bright.

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