Yes, it would be tough to swallow. Yes, it would be painful to watch Dwight not play for Orlando, but not play for us either, but I think this might be the best long-term and short-term strategy for the Brooklyn Nets.
Let me explain. Instead of pursuing a two team trade, a three team trade or any kind of deal with the Orlando Magic we drop negotiations. The Nets sign Brook Lopez, and maybe sign Gerald Green or Kris Humphries as well if we can.
Why it works in the short-term: We have a lot of money, and a lot of years invested in this lineup. We need to see where this group stands. If Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Mirza Teletovic and Brook Lopez as our starting lineup gets the number 7 seed, we know we need to make a move. If Joe Johnson turns into Gilbert Arenas on the Magic we have to be prepared for how to handle it. If the worst should happen do we amnesty him? Can we trade the contract it took Atlanta so long to? What if Williams falls off instead, or in addition to Johnson? If we have 40 million invested in the backcourt we have to find a way to get production elsewhere and as cheap as possible.
Now let's assume the Magic do make a trade. If they deal Howard to Houston, Golden State or Los Angeles he probably will not stay there. It will be much easier to convince those teams to do a sign and trade next summer than it is right now to get Orlando to make a deal. The Magic for some reason believe they have all of the leverage in this scenario, we need to show them that they don't. They are not going to be able get more for Howard than we are offering so let them get Andrew Bynum, or Andrew Bogut or Luis Scola, Jeremy Lamb etc. or whatever package they may get, and let us work with a team that wants some dividend on their one year rental next year.
Now let's look at the long-term. Say Brook Lopez with our lineup works and we manage to get the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. This may be the better long-term option. Lopez is two and a half years younger and we have seen how back issues for big men can ruin their careers. Imagine what would happen to Brooklyn if we end up with an aging, injury-plagued, 60+ million dollar a year Williams, Johnson and Howard? The next four years will be full of early playoff exits. We do not know how Howard's health is right now and we're risking the next four years of our franchise on it?
In summary why this works:
- We get an evaluation of where our franchise is with a healthy Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson in the lineup.
- We figure out if Dwight Howard's back is going to hold up.
- We will probably be able to keep MarShon Brooks and our future first round draft picks.
- There is already so much excitement around the Brooklyn Nets. We don't need to rush things, we just need to get back to the playoffs.