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Howard Beck: Brooklyn Nets likely to move only one, maybe two, of the Big Three

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Howard Beck in summarizing what the trade winds could bring, thinks the Nets are not in the midst of a "fire sale" but rather trying what is the most difficult thing in sports, rebuilding while remaining competitive.

Reports emerged last week from's Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk that the Nets were prepared to unload all three of their star players: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. The more likely scenario, per team sources, is that the Nets will trade one of the three, two at most, and keep retooling around whoever is left. Team officials want to rebuild while staying competitive.

The Nets began dumping salaries last week, sending Andrei Kirilenko to Philadelphia in a move to reduce their luxury-tax bill.

Nets insiders also dismiss the idea that the Nets will necessarily reduce salary in any deal, that in fact they have the green light to add salary, within limits. As for Kirilenko, they say, that was dictated by the coach's belief Kirilenko couldn't help the team and a family matter.  Better to reduce costs -- and get a trade exception which could prove valuable now, at the deadline or in the off-season.

So which of the Big Three is most likely to go? There's only been rumors of one: Brook Lopez, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski.  In that scenario, the Nets would send Lopez to Charlotte, who's always liked him, for Lance Stephenson, who the Hornets are apparently desperate to get rid of. But Tim Bontemps writes neither the rumored Stephenson deal nor any others "have gone very far."  One reason: the Nets wonder whether bringing the 6'5" swingman back to his hometown would exacerbate his well-known problems.