By David Kay
New Jersey Nets (Last Year: 12-70)
2009-10 Season Summary:
We knew the Nets were going to have a rough go of it this past season but nobody imagined they would be flirting with being the worst team in NBA history. Injuries played a factor in their pathetic outcome but the fact that New Jersey was in year one of re-building mode led to their ultimate demise. One area Nets nation should be optimistic about is the continued development of second-year center Brook Lopez who is looking more and more like a future NBA All-Star and a solid building block.
The up-coming off-season will be crucial to the future of the franchise. The Nets will have one of the top picks in the NBA Draft with the best chance at landing freshman phenom John Wall. Add in about $33 million in cap space to make a run at some of the top free agents on the market, and the Nets figure to re-build rather quickly.
2009-10 Projected Depth Chart:
PG: Devin Harris
SG: Courtney Lee/Chris Douglas-Roberts
SF: Terrence Williams
PF: Yi Jianlian/Kris Humphries
C: Brook Lopez/Josh Boone
SF Bobby Simmons (UFA)
C Tony Battie (UFA)
SF Trenton Hassell (UFA)
SF Jarvis Hayes (UFA)
PG Chris Quinn (UFA)
G Keyon Dooling (TO)
SG Chris Douglas-Roberts (TO)
PF Kris Humphries (PO)
PF Josh Boone (QO)
2009-10 Team Salary: Approximately $23.1 Million
2009-10 Expected League Salary Cap: $56.1 million
NBA Draft Picks: 1 (tentatively), 27, 31
1. An Alpha Dog- With a ton of cap space this off-season, New Jersey needs to land one of the marquee free agents. I expect them to throw their hats into the LeBron and Dwyane Wade sweepstakes, but it may be hard to convince either superstar to join a re-building franchise. Although, the allure of possibly playing alongside Wall and the influence of Bron’s boy Jay-z could play a factor. Assuming they whiff on their attempts at James and Wade, targeting Joe Johnson is the next best option.
2. A complimentary big man for Brook Lopez- With all that cap space, the Nets are able to pursue one of the top wing free agents and also go after a power forward to play alongside Lopez. Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, and David Lee will all be on the market this summer and would make Lopez even more dangerous of a threat compared to what Yi Jianlian and Kris Humphries were able to do this past season.
3. Start Shopping Devin Harris- If Jay-z’s squad does land the first pick and drafts Wall, it will be interesting to see what they do with Devin Harris who took a step back this past season due to a lack of talent around him. Since Wall and Harris are the same mold of point guard; quicker players who rely on their ability to drive or get out in the open court and are not great outside shooters, expect Harris to be shopped in order to clear more cap space or land another valuable asset. How about this one: Harris, Yi, and #27 to the Pacers for Troy Murphy and Indiana’s first round pick (tentatively #10.) Murphy would help solve off-season need #2 and is a free agent after the season so there is not a long-term investment and another lottery pick adds more talent.
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