To have any leverage for a trade for Dwight Howard in December or at the March trade deadline, the Nets need to remain a threat to sign him outright in the 2013 offseason. A healthy Lopez, still the centrepiece of any trade, should be putting up 20-22 and 7-8 then. We’d also see if Howard’s back’s recovered and if he’s still the best center on the planet capable of bringing 20 and 15 while anchoring the defense.
The plan, or why would they join the Nets?
This means re-signing DWill/Lopez/Wallace but handing out only one-year biggish deals for veterans. In particular, arguably the best such signing options would be Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. So the usual big question linked to those names is why on why would they join the Nets instead of rejoin Boston? Well, why not? Ainge looks like he’s ready to break up their Big 3 (or Big 4); he even supposedly almost traded Pierce (to the Nets!). KG and Allen are key parts of what makes Boston still great this season and they can improve the Nets much right away. Instead of going back to Pierce and Rondo, KG and Allen can play with a better PG in DWill, a scoring center in Lopez (instead of Stiemmsa or Bass) and and a defensive/hustle guy in Wallace (not Pierce but still good in different ways). Sell them on the Howard plan. KG/Allen would also have the right to refuse a trade.
Also, because it doesn’t involve trades, role players like Morrow and Farmar will remain and they’ll still be expirings. Brooks wouldn’t have been traded. Kidd should also be on the bench. Green hopefully back with the mini-MLE. Perhaps Stevenson and Shelden back for minimum as situational subs. Maybe a late pick that Proky’s money can buy.
The Howard package would still be based on Lopez, extras like Brooks, etc, and some picks. The starting unit pushing into the playoffs would be:
DWill, Allen, Wallace, KG, Howard
Compete while waiting for Dwight. Meanwhile, there’ll be some good depth there:
DWill, Kidd, Farmar
Allen, Brooks, Morrow
Wallace, Green, Stevenson
Garnett, JWill, late 1st
Lopez, Shelden, Petro
*Not everybody could be back, one or more of our expirings -- Morrow, Farmar, Petro -- could be salary-dumped for cap space.
Role players or another shot at Howard?
Go for KG and Allen. They’re better options than overpaying for Ilyasova (even if I’ve come to slightly prefer him over Humphries) or Kirilenko (unless he agrees to a one-year deal). Are Ersan and AK really worth giving up a last shot at Howard? Do they really represent the future? If our cap space next season is already locked up with the likes of Ilyasova and AK, or similar role players, the Nets’ leverage in trading for Howard or signing him outright will practically be nil.
Howard or…not bust
There’s another chance to get Howard during the season up to the trade deadline. If not, with only DWill/Lopez/Wallace on long-term contracts, sign Howard outright in the 2013 offseason. And if that still doesn’t work out, to add to the core of DWill/Lopez/Wallace, 2013 will have somebody like Josh Smith who’d be unrestricted and still only 28, or some other potential star, who’d be much better than the role players in this year’s FA crop. So, alternatively, next year it could be:
DWill, SG?, Wallace, Josh Smith?, Lopez
Dwightmare is known to cause hypertension but it still offers the possibility of a more exciting future.