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Marc Stein: Nets in "a bigger ditch than we've ever seen"

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If you're a Nets fan and expected a dose of optimism from ESPN's post-season "summer scoop" series, fuggedaboutit as they say in Brooklyn (and New Jersey).

In the Nets "summer scoop," Marc Stein and Mike Mazzeo paint a dark portrait of the team's prospects. The "summer scoop," is in effect, "winter is coming."  Stein and Mazzeo write...

They went all-in as far as any team we've ever seen over the past few years -- and we're typically all for boldness in the cyberspace -- only to wind up in a bigger ditch than we've ever seen when the big swings whiffed. There are simply no preferred scenarios for them to pursue in the short term. There are downsides even if things go as planned this offseason.

They answer a series of questions, but in each they come down to a bottom line that looks ugly. For example, even if they sign Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, "The far greater source of uncertainty is the size and scope of the contracts they would command as free agents, given that Brooklyn risks cutting into its July 2016 spending money if it lavishes too much on the incumbents."

Their best hope is that Lopez and Young opt in for another year, hoping for a huge bonanza next July when TV rights money shows up, but Stein and Mazzeo say sources tell them it's more likely both will opt out and look for big raises and long contracts now.

The ESPN writers don't think the Nets will stretch Deron Williams and leave them with $9 million on the cap for the next five years.  Nor do they think trading Joe Johnson's $25 million expiring will be so easy.  They also think the Nets might have second thoughts about not trading Mason Plumlee back when his value was high in December and January. Some may have forgotten, but over a 25-game stretch, he averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds, then retreated into Lionel Hollins dog house. They suggest Plumlee could be on the block again.

There's more if you can stand it.  Bottom line for Stein and Mazzeo: "The Nets can only hope. There really is no alternative scenario for them."