Last July and August, the Nets re-made their roster, adding 11 new players, including three rookies, retaining only Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks. The makeover cost them more than $340 milllion.
This year, Billy King is on the record saying the "majority" of the Nets will return this season and that continuity alone should help the team improve.
A quick analysis of the Nets roster suggests that there will be few roster openings, maybe as few as two or three. Here's the math.
--Assume that of the Nets four free agents, one, Andray Blatche, will return --that's the hope and expectation-- while the others, Jerry Stackhouse, Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson, will wind up elsewhere. Watson has a player option worth $1.1 million, for next season, but he's recently changed agents and that's not a good sign he's ready to accept the vets minimum again.
--Assume that the Nets trade Kris Humphries in a one-for-one deal. If so, that's a wash. If the Nets get one player back for the proverbial Hump, Brooks and a Pick (HBAP), the Nets could open up a spot there.
--The Nets are likely to go for immediate help in the Draft, hoping for a player who can contribute this year. So subtract one opening on June 27. If the Nets do buy pick(s) in the second round, expect them to be stashed in Europe.
--Bojan Bogdanovic is expected to sign with the Nets in July. Subtract another spot.
--Then there's Kris Joseph, the Nets late season addition. They liked him enough to sign him to a two-year deal: the remainder of last season and next, but also made sure that they'd have three opportunities to waive him. His contract includes buyout options on August 1 ($100,000); on October 29 ($200.000). If he's still on the team by January 6, his $800,000 contract will be guaranteed.
So the Nets are unlikely to add a big asset unless they get one in return for Humphries. Those last two openings are likely to be minimum deals unless they surprise with multiple deals. (Another possibility is the Nets convince Bogdanovic to take less than the $3.2 million mini-MLE and they use the remainder to sign someone who might want more than the minimum.)
Bottom line, as Billy King said, while last season was about adding talent, this season, it's more likely the big story will be about improving chemistry, with the help of a new coach. "You can add players—when you’re limited in a good market, you can attract good players. This group did win 49 games. We can win more than 49 games."
Who might they go after? Expect their top targets will be veteran free agents rather than young players. And don't forget the amnesty waiver wire.