Are Nets destined to be second-tier team?
The Nets have certainly made a splash this off-season. They re-signed Deron Williams for five years and $100 million. They also acquired Hawks' All-Star Joe Johnson (he has four years remaining for $90 million). And they re-signed Gerald Wallace.
There is genuine excitement as the Nets move into their new digs, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk
wonders if these moves will help the Nets that much. Helin says that while the Nets have certainly improved, they have also put themselves in a precarious position.
As he sees it, the Nets will struggle to rise above the second tier of the East, where the Knicks, Celtics, and Pacers currently reside.
"But they are still looking up at Miami (as is everyone) and a healthy Chicago. And getting more quality pieces to change that will be nearly impossible," writes Helin.
He points out that the Nets have just $20 million to round out their roster and that's before attempting to re-sign key pieces Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries. There will not be much wiggle room to add quality players.
What about acquiring Orlando's Dwight Howard, who expressed his desire to be traded to Brooklyn? Helin shows that such a trade has become nearly impossible to pull off.
"First off, the Magic have consistently rejected an offer of Lopez, Brooks and picks for Howard and that is not suddenly going to change...
More than that, Howard (set to make $19.5 million) along with Johnson, Williams, Wallace and the other couple guys already under contract but not shipped out would be owed nearly $70 million. So that leaves $4 million to get seven more guys."
The only possible way for the Nets to complete a Howard deal would mean bringing in a third party to ship out expensive contracts in a sign-and-trade situation. Believe it or not, teams are not exactly jumping at the idea of taking on contracts to help create another "superteam."
So where does that leave the Nets? Firmly in the second tier.
As Helin writes:
"[The Nets] will be good. They will be fun ... the fans in Brooklyn will love them. Jay-Z will love them.
But in a few years the real cost of opening the Barclays Center the right way will come home to roost."
In a few years, Helin implies, the Nets will have a lot of money committed to their current players, the excitement will likely have died down and they will still be calling the second tier of the East home.