A Look at Nets Trade Assets

The Nets are going to be active at the March 15 deadline if not before and whether they get Dwight Howard or not. At that point, all manner of possibilities will start to kick in.

If the Nets get Howard, the trade that lands him is likely to be a multi-team deal with pieces drawn from the Nets' current menu of assets as well as those on other team's menus. If the Magic don't trade Howard or trade him somewhere else, there will be Plans B, C, D, to consider.

If they retain their draft picks, June will be interesting too. The Nets have two first rounders, theirs and the Rockets' lottery protected pick plus the Heat's second-rounder. If Houston makes the playoffs, its pick winds up with the Nets.

With all the flexibility inherent in building up expiring deals, not spending on multi-year deals and retaining first round picks, Billy King has the pieces to go in a number of directions. Here's a look at what he's got to work with.

Cap Space:

After the flurry of late off-season moves, the Nets opened the 2011-12 season about $2 million over the cap ($1.995 million to be specific). That was after trading for Mehmet Okur and signing or re-signing Shelden Williams, Shawne Williams, DeShawn Stevenson and Dennis Horner and inking Marshon Brooks and Jordan Williams to rookie contracts.The Nets remain $10.267 million below the luxury tax threshold. In terms of guaranteed money owed players long-term, they are near or at the bottom among NBA teams. One estimate has them owing a grand total of $70.1 million. (Compare that to the Knicks, who owe nearly a quarter billion dollars, $236 million.)

Unlike last season, the Nets didn't give out any partial guarantees this season, but that was more of a function of not having a long training camp and having a ready-made group of camp invites in the Springfield Armor. Salaries paid to Horner, now back in Springfield, and Larry Owens, called up from Tulsa, are pro-rated at league minimums and get added to the cap as well. Owens contract becomes full guaranteed February 10.

Expiring contracts:

As of January 1, the Nets have seven players on expiring contracts totaling $40.7 million, with the possibility those numbers could rise to eight and $44.9 million. The expiring contracts, in descending order of size, are: Deron Williams, $16.4 million; Mehmet Okur, $10.9 million; Kris Humphries, $8 million; DeShawn Stevenson, $2.5 million; Damion James, $1.2 million; Sundiata Gaines and Shelden Williams, $854,389 each (for cap purposes). Jordan Farmar ($4.25 million) and Shawne Williams ($3.13 million) both have player options for next year. Farmar has said he may opt out. Brook Lopez, on the last year of his rookie contract, is a restricted free agent making $3.1 million. He has a cap hold of $7.7 million next season until he is re-signed or renounced (which isn't going to happen). No team will have as much cap space as the Nets (although the team obviously doesn't want to lose Deron Williams).

The remainder of the team is either on rookie contracts: MarShon Brooks ($1.1 million) and Jordan Williams ($473,604); or multiple year deals: Anthony Morrow ($4 million) and Johan Petro ($3.25 million).

Draft rights:

The Nets hold the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic, selected in the 2011 draft. He is 50-50 to join the team in 2012-13 when the team opens Barclays Center but it's more likely he will arrive in New York for 2013-14, when he will be 24. Just before the draft, he signed a three-year deal with Fenerbahce Ulker of Istanbul. The contract has an "NBA out" in 2013 but the Nets hope they can work a deal with the Turkish club and get him here quicker. As a second round pick, he can negotiate a contract outside the rookie minimum. Considering that he was the first pick of the second round (and would have certainly gone higher except for his deal with Fener), he is likely to get an initial contract with a first year salary above $1 million, depending on his progress in Europe and how much Euroleague teams offer him.

Draft picks:

The Nets have four first round picks over the next three years, three of their own and the Rockets' 2012 first rounder obtained in the Terrence Williams/ Sasha Vujacic deal. The Rockets' 2012 pick is lottery-protected pick.Only three other teams have two first round picks in 2012.

Here are the details:

In 2012, the Nets have their own first round pick; the Rockets' first round pick (lottery-protected), acquired in the Terrence Williams trade; and the Heat's second round pick (unprotected), acquired along with Chris Quinn. Only the Nets, Bulls, Celtics, Hornets and Lakers have two first round picks in the 2012 draft which is viewed as one of the strongest in years. (The Lakers, who have the Mavericks pick, protected 1-21, can trade only one because they traded their first rounder last year to the Nets.)

In 2013 (and beyond), the Nets have their own first round pick.

In 2015 (and beyond) the Nets have their own second round picks, having sent their 2012 second rounder to the Warriors in the Brandan Wright trade; their 2013 second rounder (plus cash) to the Timberwolves in the Bojan Bogdanovic trade and their 2014 second rounder to the Celtics in the MarShon Brooks trade.

Regarding protections: the Rockets' 2012 first rounder. The pick is lottery protected (1-14) through 2016. If the Rockets pick falls in the lottery in 2012, the pick rolls over each year through 2016. In 2017, if the protections have prevented the Nets from using it as a first rounder, it would become a second round pick.

Until the Deron Williams' trade, the Nets had not traded one of their own first round picks since 1999, preferring to keep their picks and trade those acquired from other teams. (The last two first round picks the Nets traded turned into Matt Harpring and Wally Szczerbiak.)

Trade Exceptions:

The Nets had a small ($1.3 million) trade exception from the Terrence Williams trade which expired on December 19.

Mid-level and Low-level exceptions:

The Nets had a "room exception" which they used on DeShawn Stevenson.

Cash Considerations:

Although the Nets have the richest owner in the NBA, new restrictions on cash considerations limit how much Mikhail Prokhorov can use in deals. Teams are limited to using more than $3 million in cash to sweeten deals. Since he bought the team, Prokhorov has spent $7.5 million in cash: $3 million in the Yi Jianlian salary dump; $3 million in the Deron Williams trade; $1.5 million to buy the rights to Bogdanovic. During that period, only the Knicks' James Dolan paid out more, $7.75 million.

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