State of the Cap: New Jersey Nets

Thu, 05/03/2007 - 9:37am

By Josh Redetzke

2007/08 New Jersey Nets Payroll: $65.3 million
2007/08 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $55 million
Roughly: $10.3 million over cap

[img_assist|nid=3900|title=Jason Kidd - AP Photo: Bill Kostroun|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=343]The Good: Nets fans can rejoice over their first round perofrmance against Toronto. One big positive has been the health and productivity of Jason Kidd. His humongous contract was a major risk for a player of his age and track record, but Kidd has stayed on the court and still flirts with triple-doubles every night. While he is still a terrible shooter (40%), his 9.2 assists per game is the most he has had in three years and his 8.2 rebounds per game are a career high. Kidd still has two years and $41 million remaining on his deal, but it has become less of a risk because of the years remaining and his recent health. It is up to the Nets to keep the right pieces in place around him.

One of those pieces they might want to keep is Mikki Moore. His surprising play in the absense of Nenad Krstic was a godsend. The Nets paid Moore just over $1 million dollars this season to produce 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game along with 60% shooting. If New Jersey can keep him for a modest raise it would really help their thin front line.

The Bad: Take a glance at their record to see just how much the Nets needed Nenad Krstic this year. When the season started, Krstic was the only big man on the roster putting up good numbers. When he went down with a torn ACL, New Jersey's season nearly went with it. The team is praying that Krstic can make a full recovery and still be as effective as he was earlier in the year. At least they didn't sign him to a fat extension before the injury. The Nets will have a one year, $1.8 million dollar look at Krstic next season, the last year in his contract. Unless they can find a way to get major help up front, the Nets need Krstic back in a big way.

Another player who missed significant time because of an injury was Richard Jefferson. This was the second major injury of his career, not something you want to hear about a player still owed $54.6 million dollars over the next four years. To make matters worse, his numbers are down from the past few seasons. Jefferson's 4.4 rebounding average is his worst since his rookie season and could signal that he doesn't have the lift in his legs like he used to. If Jefferson can't return to form, his contract will hurt the team more than his injuries.

Jason Collins continues to be an embarrassment. He'll be paid $6.1 and $6.2 million the next two years despite averaging just 2.1 points per game. Also, how does a post guy like Collins shoot 36% from the field? That's just plain awful.

The Future: The fate of the New Jersey Nets lies mainly in the hands of Vince Carter. He has the option to bolt this summer in free agency and will likely listen to offers from other teams. While Vince has played well this year, he seems to be a the type of player who puts up great stats on teams that all short. So what should the Nets do? If he leaves, they won't be far enough under the cap to sign another superstar. The team might then have to trade Jason Kidd and try to rebuild. If they resign him and kill their cap, can Carter really take the Nets back to the top of the East?

Considering that Carter will make the most money with the Nets, he will likely stay. Their frontcourt problems must be addressed, either through the draft or a mid-level exception signing. If they can add another big man, a healthy New Jersey team can be dangerous. However, their ceiling only goes as high as VC can lift it.

Free Throw: He does it all the time, but Jason Kidd's triple-doubles still amaze me. He is up to 87 triples in his career, including 12 this year, the most he has ever had in a season. Kidd sits third on the all-time list behind the Big O (181) and Magic (138). And recently joined Wilt and Fat Lever in the triple 15 club. He has 28 triples over the last three seasons.Who has the second most in that time? LeBron James with 11. Kidd can fill up a box score like few other point guards in history.

* (includes Vince Carter's $16.3 million player option)

Grade: C+

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