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How to fix the Nets

Staff Writer Al Iannazzone analyzes the moves the Nets need to reach the next level:

Ousted before the conference finals for the fourth straight year, the Nets begin what could be a very eventful off-season. Some big names could be re-signed or leaving New Jersey.

Everything starts and ends with Vince Carter, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent July 1.

"We need to get stronger, there's no doubt," team president Rod Thorn said. "We're not a big shot-blocking team."

The Nets have the midlevel and lower-level exceptions and the No. 17 pick in the draft. If worse comes to worse, they could stand pat with their big players and a make an in-season move. But here are some suggestions on how the Nets can avoid being eliminated before the conference finals for the fifth straight year:

1. Think big

Make the obligatory calls for Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Elton Brand and Pau Gasol. See if Zach Randolph can be had. Check on the availability of Al Jefferson in Boston and Atlanta's Josh Smith, a great fit. Kurt Thomas would be an upgrade. The Nets have to get a big man who can make a difference, or fans will be reading this same thing next year, just like they did last year and the year before.

2. Shop RJ

Provided they can re-sign Carter, the Nets should explore whether Richard Jefferson with Nenad Krstic, Marcus Williams, Bostjan Nachbar, Mile Ilic or Josh Boone get some good pieces back. The Bulls nearly dealt Loul Deng last year for Jefferson. The Nets should dial up Chicago again for Deng or Andres Nocioni and savvy veteran P.J. Brown in a sign-and-trade.

3. Spend freely

There's not a whole lot out there but the Nets have permission to use both exceptions. They should look at James Posey, Joe Smith and Brown, if he chooses to play another year. Nocioni and Anderson Varejao would help, but are restricted so their teams could match offers and could be costly. Sign-and-trades may be necessary.


Skinny on the roster

Coach Lawrence Frank: Signed through 2007-08. Will get extension this summer.

Hassan Adams: Signed through 2007-08. Needs to develop a jump shot.

Josh Boone: Signed through 2009-10. Must get stronger, improve defense, rebounding and post game.

Vince Carter: Player option. Holds cards for all Nets' moves this off-season.

Jason Collins: Signed through 2008-09. Solid defender, but Nets will look to upgrade again.

Eddie House: Free agent. Nets like his shooting, but his defense could be an issue.

Mile Ilic: Signed through 2007-08. Developing slowly, could be trade bait or bought out.

Richard Jefferson: Signed through 2010-11. Best piece if they decide to make a big deal.

Jason Kidd: Signed through 2008-09. Reiterated Monday he wants to stay here, and the Nets would be wise to keep him.

Nenad Krstic: Signed through 2007-08. His healthy return from ACL surgery is key to next season.

Mikki Moore: Free agent. Will get a nice deal, but probably not for as much as he wants.

Bostjan Nachbar: Signed through 2007-08. Big year makes him valuable here or in a trade.

Bernard Robinson: Signed through 2007-08. Hey, he got Jeff McInnis out of Frank's hair.

Cliff Robinson: Team option. Likely will be waived.

Marcus Williams: Signed through 2008-09. Must improve defense, decision making and shot selection.

Antoine Wright: Signed through 2008-09. Impressive on defense in playoffs; needs work on his shot.