1. Do the Nets need to make a trade?
Net Income: Of course they do. The current roster isn't working. The fanbase is becoming indifferent, the payroll remains astronomical and the draft pick cupboard is bare. The Nets cannot sustain handing out tens of millions of dollars each year in luxury taxes. The situation in Russia is such that cash --dollars-- is at a premium. I expect the Nets will pay less than what they are projected to pay, about $22 million, right now. The tax bill is calculated on the last day of regular season so the last real chance to make a difference is the deadline, still five weeks away.
Tom Lorenzo: I think they definitely do need to make a trade. I don't, however, think there's a one-trade-fixes-all deal out there, but they should look to shed contracts, where possible, and get players who fit into Lionel Hollins' system, because at the end of the day this is going to be his team for the foreseeable future.
Reed Wallach: Very much so. This team looks beat. Maybe its because of the constant change in lineups due to injuries and slumps, or maybe its the failure for them to play up to their individual levels, but this team looks out of it and its only January. I don't think Billy King needs to blow it all up and hit the reset button, but he needs to do some tinkering with the roster and try to get some value back such as an expiring contract, a future first rounder (will be tough), or maybe a young prospect who may need a change of scenery.
Anthony Puccio: I'll say no, but they won't get very far with the team they're rolling with right now. I can't see any trades improving the team as much as we'd like to see.
Daniel LoGiudice: I think it's obvious something needs to be done. The Nets have had the easiest schedule in the NBA and yet they stand at 16-19. Whether they make a trade that can help them contend for a playoff spot, or they choose to blow it up and start fresh, something needs to be done.
Ghoti: I believe none of the Nets' three big contract players have any trade value, and in order to get rid of any of them they would need to add sweetener - which they do not have. What I said before the season is that with the East being so weak they should add players and give it one more go before they start dismantling things starting this offseason. But now that I have seen the team play and the way the coaching staff has performed, I do not believe they can be competitive this year and they might as well take what they can get and start preparing for the future right now. Hollins has no interest in maximizing his talent the way Kidd did last year and that would be necessary for the Nets to make any playoff noise. It's a shame, really. It could have been exciting.
Larry Fleisher: I'm not an advocate for making a trade just for the sake of making a trade under more circumstances, but this might be an exception.
The Nets have not played consistently well with this mix this season and sometimes changing the pieces can be a good thing.
Thomas Duffy: Sure, no team is perfect. Even the good ones (Warriors, Hawks, Blazers, Wizards, etc.) could use some help, whether it be right this second or years from now. The Nets don’t fall under the "good teams" category, so making a move shouldn’t be out of the question. But the important thing is making the right kind of move. It’s time to stop going all-in and think long-term instead.
2. If the Nets make a trade, should the mentality be to blow it up and rebuild, or to still try and contend?
NI: Doesn't matter much what I think, but the team's current mentality is rebuild while winning. VERY difficult but this is the East. The lure of the playoffs and "anything can happen" remains strong. Despite four straight losses, they were in seventh place on the Saturday. There is also the added incentive for the front office not to see the Nets - Hawks swap become a trade of top five pick for a bottom five pick. That COULD happen if the Nets fall into the lottery.
TL: The thing is, they can "blow it up" and still contend -- so to speak -- in the East. They can move contracts and still find a way to make the playoffs. The East is ugly, so they can do it. Will they make a trade that turns them into a title contender? Most likely not, but it can be done in a way where they get better in the future while still making the playoffs this year.
RW: As I said above, I think they should still try to remain competitive because it is so easy to in the East. If the team was to, say, trade Brook Lopez and/or Deron Williams, Brooklyn should try and get a return that gives them quality players now so they can still make the playoffs. Sure, they won't go very far, but it is better than sitting on the couch in May.
AP:The mentality should stay the same. Play to contend, but don't make any moves that may damage the future any further than it already has been damaged. And of course no tanking, that's for the team in Manhattan.
DL: The Nets mentality seems like they would like to move the Big 3 (or at least part of it) while at the same time contending for a playoff spot. In other words, the Nets are trying to do the impossible. Rebuilding while at the same time competing for a playoff spot is one of the hardest things to do in sports. At this point, a complete rebuild mode might not be the worst idea. This way, the Nets can shed some money and start fresh with the upcoming rich free agent classes in 2015 and 2016. Also, if the Nets are able to acquire some draft picks to replace the ones they mortgaged away in the Boston deal, it would be foolish not to start the rebuilding process.
G: Since I answered this already, I'll use this space to say that Brook Lopez has no trade value because his foot is chronically injured and nobody is giving the Nets anything for him no matter how young he is or how good he plays. He is on his last big contract.
LF: This is a slippery slope for front office people involved in making the trade especially when you combine the business aspect of having a somewhat new brand since this is Year Three in Brooklyn. Do you blow it up, rebuild with a cheaper roster but risk losing revenues from possible diminished attendance. Or do you keep spending to try and contend with the idea that attendance and revenues will be similar. The Nets lost significant money last season with a roster that talked championship but won 44 games and five more postseason dates. Last year the most expensive roster netted 49 nights of revenue if you include preseason and postseason to the 41 regular-season games. This year's expensive roster doesn't appear likely to go beyond two or three postseason home games if they even get there. Then there's tear it down, clear cap space and wait for a certain year. The Knicks did that in 2008 and 2009 while looking towards 2010. It was a nice idea in theory but when 2010 came around, they only landed Amar'e Stoudemire, were forced to trade young (cheaper) assets for Carmelo Anthony. For the price of approximately 190 million for Anthony, they've gotten one really good season and now are in the process of repeating the cycle.That's the tricky thing to determine, is it better to be 38-43 win type of average or more advantageous to bottom out? Being a 38-win team with younger players would be good in terms of getting playoff experience which is what happened with Atlanta. The Hawks used the experience of nearly beating the top seed to become the best team in the East. The Nets don't have that, which is what makes this question even more difficult to figure.
TD: Tough call. Even at 16-21, they’re still in play in the East. If the season ended today, Brooklyn would be the eighth seed, which is kind of crazy. There has been a lot of talk in regard to moving D-Will, Brook or Joe recently. Johnson’s contract is ridiculous, so he’s likely staying put. Lopez and D-Will would still fetch a decent return, though. If something comes up that would help both now and in the future, Billy King should pull the trigger.
3. Which player should the Nets front office look to move first?
NI: I think Brook Lopez has the highest value, but he also a player option next July. How does that affect his value? One assumes if a team is giving up real assets for him, they will want to sign him long term, but one also assumes that he will want to go with a winner. A team would want to know his intentions before they deal anything of real value for him. What will he say?
TL: Brook Lopez should be moved first, because he has the most value, based on his age and contract situation, and he does not fit into Hollins' system. There's no sense in forcing it, especially if he's healthy and there are teams willing to take him on. He's a very, very good player. He just doesn't fit into the Nets' future, which includes Hollins.
RW: Brook Lopez. Lopez, despite his injury woes and clear flaws, commands the most value on the market. He is still young, 26, and teams that think he can get past his foot and now back issues would be wise to take a flyer on him. He becomes a monster expiring next season at more than $16 million, so if he doesn't pan out on a new roster, he becomes easy trade bait because someone will pick him up. Deron Williams is going to be a player also mentioned, and while he has been a major letdown to the roster, the Nets should wait for a deal with him. Why? Well, his value isn't very high right now and the Nets should wait until he is healthy and playing good ball. Lopez still has upside and can bring back a much better haul.
AP: If I had to say -- for the right price -- Brook Lopez. As Chris Mannix said, he's probably the easiest to trade, and for the Nets' sake, they have Mason Plumlee to fill in his spot. If they trade Williams, they'll need to bring back a solid PG to fill his spot.
DL: With the news of Deron Williams' fractured ribs throwing a monkey wrench into the any potential trade, the Nets should probably look to trade Brook Lopez first, as he is probably the easiest to deal at this point. I don't think the Nets will be able to trade Joe Johnson because I believe his albatross of a contract will keep most, if not all, teams at arms length. Lopez's contract is much more reasonable and his play of late has been impressive for the most part. However, any trade involving Lopez will be hinged on three words that have haunted the center for most of his career: "if he's healthy."
G: Beggars can't be choosers.
LF: Brook Lopez. It seems that for every step forward he takes (29 points in Chicago on Dec. 30), he regresses and winds up infuriating coach Lionel Hollins. Case in point Wednesday when he was horrid offensively and didn't hustle for a loose ball. Hollins may like Lopez personally but in terms of what happens on the court it seems to be a different story. Lopez has said the right things and acknowledged his faults but like all of us he has feelings and the constant criticism even if it's justified might wear on him and force him into trying to do too much which often leads to less effective play. Ideally you don't want to trade someone with his offensive potential and size but this might be a case of needing a change of scenery.
TD: I would say Lopez, mostly because his value will continue to decrease as he continues to battle injuries. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the front office is actively seeking deals for him, which means that other teams are calling. Plumlee, despite his own shortcomings, makes Lopez expendable, too.
4. Is it time to give up building around Deron Williams?
NI: Time is long since past. The question is who do they "build around?" The next PG? Johnson? Someone whose name we don't know yet?
Hollins is the teams dominant personality now. Maybe that's the way he wants it.
TL: Yes. Williams has run his course in Brooklyn and I just don't think he's the cornerstone player they need. He'd be a very good "third player" on a title team, but right now he's not a cornerstone guy. They should do what they can to get some pieces and cap space in return for him. I still think he has value, and it's time they should explore it.
RW: Unfortunately, yeah. No one could have seen DWill's Nets tenure being as much as a disaster as it has been. I do think that he is still a good player, but he isn't worth his contract by a long shot. Time to move on, but to who is the real question.
AP: They could use an athletic wing, or for the sake of their three point shooting, a reliable and consistent shooter to knock down the open three; especially when Joe or Lopez are getting double teamed. The Nets are 25th in the league in 3PT. %, averaging 32.3 percent per game. With Williams, Johnson, Bogdanovic, Teletovic and Karasev, this was the last I problem I expected with this team.
DL: Deron Williams has had some nice moments, but overall he hasn't been the franchise cornerstone the Nets had hoped he'd be. Should the Nets rely on a 30-year-old point guard whose numbers have been consistently declining every year he's been with the team and can't stay healthy? Probably not. It's time to move on.
G: Are you asking this question in 2013?
LF: Playing ineffectively or inconsistently on ankles that needed surgery gives you benefit of the doubt, though the question of why not get it the previous summer as opposed to last summer is something that should be brought up. Williams deserved immunity for playing fairly decently during the first month even as the Nets dropped nine of their first 15 games. But the last month has not been good and combined with two more injuries, it might be time to move on if you can. He's got a lot of money left, is too injured and is not what he was, which is amazing when you consider that he's right at 30 years old. The biggest instance of him not being what he was is the lack of explosiveness. Examples are his 9-for-26 on layups and his 42.5 percent on shots within 0 to 10 feet. Those are considered the higher percentage shots and most of those shots are running jumpers, layups or tips and to successfully execute those, a player needs some kind of lift or explosiveness that can help create acceleration to elude defenders. It appears Williams in his present condition has little of that.
TD: No doubt. That horse is out of the barn -- D-Will is getting paid like an elite point guard because of what he did early in his career. In reality, he’s middle-of-the-pack in terms of league-wide PG hierarchy. Jarrett Jack isn’t Magic Johnson, but his numbers are comparable with Williams’. That’s a problem.
5. Give a trade that works and would be the best option for the Nets.
NI: The Kings trade remains viable: Deron Williams and maybe another piece (but not Mason Plumlee) for Darren Collison, Nik Stauskas, Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson. (I also like Tom Lorenzo for the rights to Sergio Lull, but no one would notice.)
TL: I would look to move Lopez to Charlotte for Lance Stephenson, Bismack Biyombo and a future pick, if possible. The Hornets seem desperate to rid themselves of Stephenson, and I think the Nets should be there to take him. I believe that Hollins can coach him. He's had success with guys like Zach Randolph and Tony Allen in Memphis, and I think he can keep Stephenson's head straight. Plus, Stephenson would be a nice fit in a Hollins-run system. I know he has his issues, but I would take the chance if I'm Brooklyn and letting Hollins call the shots on the court.
RW: Trying to come up with trades to move players like Lopez and Williams that are as fair as possible where the money works is very difficult. I spent a while going through the trade machine trying to find something and then I realized that there aren't many places that will take on DWill or Lopez in a fair deal. The Kings deal doesn't really do it for me, a pick would need to be thrown in or a third-team gets involved. The OKC deal is tricky now that Lance Thomas isn't there anymore so I modified it a bit (it still isn't that great)
Nets get: Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison, Perry Jones III, and Jeremy Lamb
Thunder get: Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko
Sixers get: Their own 2015 draft pick back from the Thunder
Nets are getting two expiring contracts in Perkins and Collison while getting two young pieces in Jones and Lamb. The Thunder get Brook Lopez as a sense of rim protection and gives them more offense in the frontcourt while they also get a wing stopper in Kirilenko who wants to be with a contender and comes off the books next season.
AP: One of the few that work -- Lopez to Denver for Arron Affalo and Darrel Arthur. Affalo could fit that offensive consistency the Nets need and Arthur keeps them afloat at the big man slots. For Denver -- on the outside looking in -- and losing Mozgov, Lopez may give them the jolt they need.
DL: With D-Will being hurt with no timetable to return, I'll stick with Lopez. How about a trade with OKC that would send Lopez to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb and Nick Collison? The Thunder might need some help clawing their way into the crowded Western Conference playoffs and could use another center to pair with start Steven Adams. For the Nets, it'd be a pure salary dump without any sexy returns, but it would be a step in the right direction towards a rebuild.
G: I would trade the Nets' front office structure for a real President of Basketball Operations (Razumov handles business and is a liason to the owner, Yormark continues marketing). That new POBO will hire his own GM and coach. The Nets can trade away these terrible contracts, but no long-term money should be spent until they have put this person in place and he has made a thorough long-term plan. If they do anything else they are obviously not interested in having a stable, winning team in Brooklyn. First hire the GM, then hire the coaching staff, then get the players that fit the style those people want to install. That's the right way to do things. I hope ownership has at the very least learned that over the last three years.
LF: Playing around with the ESPN trade machine is what I do since I can''t necessarily think of them off the top of my head. One scenario that came up was the same rumored one of Deron Williams for Darren Collison, Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson. If that ever happened, though, you can't have Lopez and Derrick Williams on the court at the same time given their penchant for not moving the ball effectively.
TD: Brook Lopez to the Knicks for Andrea Bargnani and Cleanthony Early.
Assuming the Nets can’t move D-Will, this deal would help both sides to some extent. Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge aren’t coming to New York regardless of how much cap space Phil Jackson creates, so this would ensure that he’ll have a legitimate big man (albeit an overpriced one) for his beloved triangle. It would create some cap space for the Nets, as Barg’s (horrendous) deal expires after this season. He is hurt, though, which is why the Knicks would have to throw in a guy like Early or maybe even Shane Larkin.
All stats, records are as of before the Nets game against the Rockets Monday night