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Whither The Nets: Post-Dwightmare


Nine months after it began, the Dwightmare is over. The Lakers, Sixers and Nuggets (in that order, we believe) came out looking good. The Magic look like a long-term disaster, getting only protected picks, a couple of good but nowhere near great players, and some cap fillers. Jameer Nelson, Nikola Vucevic, Glen Davis, Arron Afflalo, Kyle O'Quinn, Al Harrington, Gustavo Ayon, Justin Harper, Maurice Harkless, Christian Eyenga, Andrew Nicholson, Quentin Richardson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu?


So where does that leave the Nets whose every waking moment from December to July seemed to be consumed with getting Howard? First of all, in Brooklyn. They also have a solid veteran unit, a team whose players fit traditional positions yet have a lot of versatility; all their first round picks through 2018 (but only one second rounder), and a LOT of big contracts, at least one of which (Kris Humphries) could be moved later this year. No doubt, their division rivals, the Sixers, have improved, but we can save that discussion for later. This is about the Nets.

Cap Space:

They have none and are unlikely to have any for another three years. They went from $40+ million under the cap to $11.6 million over the luxury tax threshold in a matter of days. After the signing of Toko Shengelia, the Nets were at $81.8 million, meaning they will have to pay $11.6 million in taxes this season unless something dramatic happens. It could in fact be higher if the Nets were somehow to trade for Dwight Howard.

It's the first time since 2003-04 that the Nets will have paid any luxury tax.

The Nets owe their players a grand total of $338.6 million over the next five years, which is almost certainly the highest total in the NBA. It's likely they will add one more player either now or at the end of training camp. That will push the total to $340 million.

Expiring contracts:

The Nets have five players on minimum deals: rookies Tyshawn Taylor and Toko Shengelia and veterans Jerry Stackhouse, Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson. Taylor and Shengelia have two-year guarantees. Watson has a two-year deal with a player option in the second year. Bogans and Stackhouse are on one-year contracts.

The rest of the roster is on a variety of other contracts. Deron Williams has a five-year, $98.8 million contract with an ETO in the fifth year; Brook Lopez has a four-year, $60.8 million deal with a player option in the fourth year; Gerald Wallace has a four-year, fully guaranteed $40 million deal; Kris Humphries has a two-year, fully guaranteed $24 million deal; Mirza Teletovic has a three-year, fully guaranteed $9.8 million deal; Reggie Evans has a three-year, fully guaranteeed $5.1 million dollar deal and Marshon Brooks remains on his rookie contract, getting $1.16 million this season and assuming the team picks up his option, $4.5 million over the next three years.

Everybody but Lopez can be traded after December 15. Any deal involving Lopez would have to wait until January 15. Williams and Lopez have a 15% trade kicker on their contracts.

Draft rights:

The Nets hold the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic, selected in the 2011 draft, and Ilkan Karaman, selected in the 2012 draft.

Bogdanovic, a 6'8" Croatian swingman, is likely to arrive in the NBA for 2013-14, when he will be 24. His agent reportedly wants him in the NBA earlier rather than later. Just before the 2011 draft, he signed a three-year deal with Fenerbahce Ulker of Istanbul. The contract has an "NBA out" in 2013, but nothing before that. The Nets had hoped they could work a deal with the Turkish club and get him here quicker. As a second round pick, he can negotiate a contract outside the rookie minimums. Considering that he was the first pick of the second round (and would have certainly gone higher except for his deal with Fener), he is likely to get an initial contract with a first year salary above $1 million, depending on how much Euroleague teams offer him.

Karaman, a 6'10" Turkish power forward, has an uncertain arrival date. He is currently 22 years old. The Nets have not discussed his buyout situation. Considering he was drafted at #57, unless he has a breakout year in Turkey, he is not likely to get much of a contract. Jeff Schwartz, who represents Williams, Teletovic, Stackhouse and Taylor, also has Karaman as a U.S. client.

Draft picks:

The Nets have all their first round picks going forward, from 2013 through 2018. On the other hand, they have no second round picks until 2018. Here are the details:

In 2013, the Nets have their own first round pick but sent their second round pick to Minnesota along with a reported $1.5 million in cash to Minnesota on Draft Night in 2011.

In 2014, the Nets have their own first round pick but sent their second round pick and their 2010 first round pick to Boston for Marshon Brooks, also on Draft Night in 2011.

In 2015, the Nets have their own first round pick, but sent their second round pick to Utah for Mehmet Okur.

In 2016, the Nets have their own first round pick, but agreed to swap second round picks with the Clippers in return for Reggie Evans.

In 2017, the Nets have their own first round pick, but sent their second round pick to Atlanta in the package for Joe Johnson.

In 2018, the Nets have their own first round and second round picks.

Prior to the Deron Williams' trade, the Nets had not traded one of their own first round picks since 1999, preferring to keep their picks and trade those acquired from other teams. Now, they have traded first rounders in 2011 and 2012 to acquire Williams and Gerald Wallace.

Trade Exceptions:

The Nets received two trade exceptions from the Gerald Wallace trade, a $3 million exception and a $1.3 million exception. Part of the larger TE --$1.62 million-- was used to sign Reggie Evans. That leaves $1.38 million. Considering how small the exceptions are, it's unlikely either will be used. (The Nets had a $1.3 million trade exception from the Terrence Williams trade which they never used. It expired last season.)

Mid-level and Low-level exceptions:

The Nets had a mini-MLE this year and used it to pay Teletovic. Next year the Nets are unlikely to have anything more. By going way over the "hard cap" of $72.3 million in salaries, the Nets can only use up to $3.09 million out of the MLE, thus the "mini-MLE." Also, teams over the hard cap cannot take advantage of the Bi-Annual Exception, which starts at $1.96 million.

Cash Considerations:

Although the Nets have the richest owner in the NBA, new restrictions on cash considerations limit how much Mikhail Prokhorov can spend in deals. Under the new CBA teams are limited to sending --or receiving-- $3 million in cash during the fiscal year, July 1 through June 30. Since the Nets didn't paid out any cash since June 27 of 2011, they were able to buy second round picks, apparently for less than $2 million total. They can now use another $3 million to sweeten a trade or purchase a player's rights.

Since he bought the team, Prokhorov has spent about $9 million in cash: $3 million in the Yi Jianlian salary dump; $3 million to facilitate the Deron Williams trade; $1.5 million to buy the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic and whatever was spent to buy the rights to Taylor from the Trail Blazers and Shengelia from the 76ers. During that period, no owner paid out more. James Dolan of the Knicks paid out $7.75 million.