State of the Cap: New Jersey Nets

Wed, 06/02/2010 - 10:17am

2010/11 New Jersey Nets Payroll: $22.2 million
2010/11 NBA Salary Cap: $56.1 million
Roughly: $33.9 million under cap

Brook LopezBrook LopezThe Good: Despite a dismal and forgettable season in the swamp, there is one thing the Nets have that many NBA teams do not; a franchise center. A promising rookie season for Brook Lopez developed into a stellar sophomore outing in which the big man averaged 18.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game on 50% shooting. The Nets have a long way to go in their rebuilding process, but they already have one of the most important pieces in place, and one of the most difficult to find. Lopez still has two years left on his rookie contract. I’m willing to bet he’ll be a Net for a long time.

In other good news, Yi Jianlian finally showed a pulse this year. The Chinese superstar set career highs in points (12.0), rebounds (7.2), and blocks (1.0) and was really on a roll at times during the season. However, Yi missed a chunk of the season due to injury for the third straight year and his shooting was terrible at 40%. Still, he is just 23 years old (we're told) and if he can find a way to stay healthy, he just might prove to be a valuable role player. Maybe.

One thing the Nets won’t have to worry about is their salary cap. With guys like Bobby Simmons, Tony Battie, Trenton Hassell, and many others coming off the books this summer, the Nets have just $22.2 million in salaries set for 2010/11. That gives them plenty of space to try to woo some big name free agents to help turn their fortunes around. Considering how the season turned out, they will need all the help they can get.

The Bad: Another important piece needed for any rebuilding team is a skilled, special point guard. New Jersey thought they had it after Devin Harris’s All-Star season in 2008/09. After last year, they aren’t so sure anymore. Harris certainly regressed this season. His scoring average dropped from 21.3 to 16.9 and his shooting dipped down to 40%. He also missed 18 games due to injury, most of them contributing to the team’s 0-18 start. The Nets have cooled so much on Harris that they were very open to drafting point guard John Wall had they gotten the chance. For a player of his caliber, his contract is really quite good at about $9 million a year for the next three years. And some of his drop in production could certainly be attributed to the lack of talent on this team. Hopefully, Harris can find a way to turn it around next season.

Owning the worst record in the league, the Nets had the best chance to land the top pick in the draft and take a potential superstar like Wall or Evan Turner. Unfortunately for the Nets, they will probably get neither. In the infinite wisdom of the NBA Draft Lottery, they had just a 25% chance to get pick #1, which means there was a 75% chance to end up lower than their original position. In fact, their most likely destination was the 4th pick in the draft, which had a 35.7% probability. Does that really sound fair?

The Future: New Jersey is more than ready to make their latest season a distant memory. Lucky for them, they are positioned quite well to make a quick turnaround. The Nets will be a major player in free agency this summer and they will be talking to some very big names. While it may seem unlikely that LeBron James or Dwyane Wade will change teams and come to New Jersey, those players might want to take a good look before making any decisions. New York has the largest market and lots of money, but their cupboard is even barer than the Nets. David Lee probably won’t be there next year and besides him, there is Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and not much else. The Knicks don’t even have a lottery pick this year. In Jersey, they would have the top young center in the league, a good point guard, and whoever they get with their high pick in the draft (most likely Derrick Favors). Add in another good free agent, which the team can afford, and your starting five is already set. James or Wade may not end up taking the plunge, but Chris Bosh or some other top level free agent will likely end up in Jersey this summer.

Besides Harris’s three year deal, the Nets currently don’t have anyone that will make more than $4 million in a season or has a contact longer than three years. The long-term future of this team is going to be decided this summer through free agency and the draft. This year was extremely rough, but if they can convince one of the big stars to sign with them and their draft pick pans out, they might be a dynasty before you know it. Those kind of warm thoughts has to make any Nets fan feel good.

The Nets ambitious new Russian owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, will be looking to improve the team via free agency. The move from New Jersey to Brooklyn is a go in two years, and is another source of optimism for the franchise.

Grade: A-

ross's picture
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Joined: 06/02/2010
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Better Off than most think

Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are going to be playing at a high level for years to come barring injury. Courtney Lee is a good glue guy and 4th option on offense, Eric Williams is going to be a great sixth man, bringing energy and making things happen. Chris Douglas-Roberts and Kris Humphries are solid bench energy guys.

Derrick Favors or Evan Turner will fill in the holes in that starting lineup at the 3 or 4 spot, providing future star power at either spot. Bringing in a coach that will develop their youth and hold the team accountable, they could develop into a east coast version of the Trail Blazers.

I say go with Favors, as he would have probably been a better version of Blake Griffin had he stayed one more year. High level wings are easier to come by than high level bigs.

The pressure will be on the new owner to set the standard for his franchise. Honestly franchises truly reflect their Owners, for better or for Sterling

ajthejuiceman's picture
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an east coast version of

an east coast version of first round exits

Ahkasi Clay
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Mikhail Prokhorov

talking about renaming the team the new owner said something like,
-I could even name the team after my girlfriend, but then I would have to change the team name every couple of weeks-

I am starting to really like this guy!

Mr. 19134
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I live in Philly so i don't

I live in Philly so i don't like to hear that any teams in my division are doing good or getting better but New Jersey has a really exciting opportunity developing here. It reminds me of what happened in Denver right before they drafted Melo and became a powerhouse again. Im hearing that Jersey's plan is to Get Bosh, Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay in free agency if Wade don't come to town which is very unlikely there is no doubt in my mind that Wade is staying in Miami who also have an empty roster and lots of money to sign players.

If the Nets can leave this free agency period with atleast one star i.e. Bosh or Johnson that opens the door for them to be able to land Melo next year. Going into Brooklyn with new Uni's and possibly a new name the Brooklyn Ballers (dont put it past a team owned by Jay-Z and a Billionaire Russian Playboy to name a team that) could open the 2012 season with a starting lineup of Devin Harris, Joe Johnson, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Favors, Brook Lopez. Yes that is a dynasty. This is gonna be fun watching the Nets develop. FYI the Knicks just suck that would be my last choice if I was a free agent this year. They will always b fun to watch but like in Phoenix will never win the title because D'Antonio don't think you have to play defense to win.

Deion Owens
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Joined: 05/09/2010
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New Jersey is a dream job for a head coach and superstar.

LeBron wants to win championship. New Jersey Nets have 33.9 million to go after another top notch free agent (like Wade, Stoudemire, Bosh, etc.), have three draft picks (3rd overall, 27th overall, and 31st overall) to bring in talent to build around LeBron, the Nets owner have enough money to bring in a proven head coach like Avery Johnson or Hubie Brown, the Nets are moving to Brooklyn in two years, and Jay-Z is a minority owner of the Nets.

Goodbye Cleveland, Hello Jersey, and Home Sweet Home, Brooklyn.

Hoops Maestro
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Brooklyn Ballers

Why wouldn't Wade or LeBron go to New Jersey/Brooklyn? They could drag along another star free agent, and have a young nucleus already in place for them. Add Avery Johnson as coach, and start racking up wins in the Eastern Conference.

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2 Cents on New Jersey

I think the Nets have a great future as well, Harris and Lopez of course, but what about players like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtnee Lee, Yi Jilian, and my personal fav Terrance Williams. With a team this young you can either be a "great" success like Portland and the OKC Thunder or horrible ala Minnesota and New Jersey. If you did add say a LeBron and a Stoudemire, you would have all the pieces you need for a championship contender for years to come. Harris, Willams or Lee, Bron Bron, Stoudemire, and Lopez as your starting 5? Sounds like a team on Dynasty mode on NBA Live. If they didn't land a LeBron or Bosh or Wade, Boozer and Gay wouldn't be too shabby either. Or maybe even a David Lee. Add Cousins off the bench with the said players and you still have a very interesting team.

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