What assets do the Nets have going into the off-season? Here's a short list (and we are always surprised to learn there's more than we suspected.)
--about $9 million in luxury tax space. With one of the lowest payrolls in the NBA (some analysts put them just above Memphis), the Nets could acquire a top free agent in a sign-and-trade and not go over the luxury tax, the bane of all owners. (Not only do luxury tax paying teams have to give the league $1 for every $1 they're over the tax threshold. If a team can stay below the tax, it receives an outlay from the luxury tax pool, which this year will amount to about $3 million per team.)
--the mid-level exception, which should be around $5.5 million. The Nets always use most of it, although last year, they used less than in previous years, leaving about $1.9 million on the table. The Nets do not have a lower level exception, which can only be used every two years and was used last summer on Jarvis Hayes.
--Expiring contracts, which may bring more value at the February trade deadline. Bobby Simmons will be paid $11.24 million next season and Trenton Hassell, $4.35 million, as long as he exercises his team option by June. Sean Williams' contract, at $1.63 million, can also be considered expiring since he is on his rookie contract and the team has until October to exercise an option for 2010-11. Not likely. Hayes has a team option at $2.0 million which the Nets are expected to exercise.
--Five first-round draft picks over the next three years, only one of which is protected. The Nets have their own pick in 2009, their own pick and the Mavs' unprotected pick in 2010; and their own pick and the Warriors' lottery protected pick in 2011. Should the Warriors move up in the lottery next month, giving the team hope for making the playoffs in 2011, that pick gets more attractive. The Nets have two second round picks as well, in 2010 and 2011. Charlotte owns their second round pick in 2009.
--a $1.36 million trade exception from the Marcus Williams trade, which must be used a year after the trade, that is, by July 22. The value of Williams' contract was $1.26 million, but for the purposes of a trade, another $100,000 can be added. It's only slightly more than the veterans minimum and has little real use.
--Boki Nachbar's Bird Rights could become valuable. IF the Nets want him back, they can sign him without having to use their MLE money. If another team wanted to sign him without using their MLE money, it could work a sign-and-trade deal with the Nets.
--Draft rights to Christian Drejer. Even though he is retired due to ankle problems, his rights can be utilized in a trade. A couple of NBA teams have shuffled long forgotten second round rights in recent trades. Less value than anything else on the list.