Have Nets Already Won Without D12?

Apr 23, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Nets small forward Gerald Wallace (45) brings the ball up court during the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Prudential Center. Philadelphia 76ers defeat the New Jersey Nets 105-87. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Prada of SB Nation writes Tuesday that by their moves and a bit of good luck (which they could use after last season), the Nets are very likely to move into contention in the East even without Dwight Howard.

The discussion of whether the Brooklyn Nets made the right move trading for Joe Johnson will undoubtedly focus on the four years and $89 million remaining on the gargantuan contract he signed in 2010. That'll matter, of course. But let's boil this down to a more fundamental question. Who was slated to be the second-best team in the Eastern Conference before this trade?

Prada finds a lot of EC teams wanting, testing the title hopes of each. Derrick Rose is out until January. Omer Asik and Kyle Korver look like they're gone in Chicago. How can the Celtics rebuild and hang on to the old gang? What about the Pacers? Say goodbye to Roy Hibbert. As for the rest...

The Knicks? That's funny. The Magic? That's funnier. The Hawks? They tried this before, and that's why they've moved on.

Prada doesn't mention the rising 76ers, but he does conclude by saying If the Nets are going to go for it at any point Now's probably the best time." After all, Deron Williams was working ou at the PNY Center Tuesday.

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