The New Jersey Nets, fresh from seeing their rivals steal Carmelo Anthony from under their noses this week, pulled something out the bag this week when they traded for All-Star Deron Williams this week, which gives them the franchise centrepiece they have coveted ever since Mikhail Prokhorov took over as owner of the Nets last year.
How good does Deron Williams’ arrival make the Nets though? Are they set for a huge playoff push this season, or should they prepare for the lottery and build for next year?
Deron Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets yesterday from the Utah Jazz, with rookie Derrick Favors and Devin Harris going in the opposite direction. Williams’ rumoured fall-out with Jerry Sloan, which saw the veteran coach resign last week, is cited as Williams’ main reason why he left the Jazz.
The Nets are currently at 17-40, 12th in the Eastern Conference and about nine games behind the Indiana Pacers, who occupy the eighth spot in the East, with a record of 26-30.
The Nets have the sixth worst record in the NBA, which means they could potentially get a top-5 pick in the NBA Draft in June, and land a good prospect (only Cleveland, Minnesota, Sacramento, Washington and Toronto have worse records), and then acquire a few free agents and a good lottery pick in the summer.
The Nets have definitely got better with the arrival of Deron Williams, who is a top 5 point guard in the league (alongside Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Steve Nash, in my opinion). Deron is an upgrade over Devin Harris, there is no doubt about that, and gives New Jersey a franchise superstar that they can use to attract prized free agents.
But the problem is, with the current roster, the Nets are not going anywhere. Brook Lopez is in at center and you have Williams at the point. After that, you have a collection of role players and backups in Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar and Travis Outlaw, as well as the likes of Kris Humphries and Sasha Vujacic, which will not win you a championship, or get you past the first round of the playoffs (or even get you into the playoffs.)
What the Nets do have though is cap space and the lure of a big city, when they move to Brooklyn. New Jersey need a rebounding power forward to make up for Brook Lopez’s new-found allergy to rebounding, as well as a good two-guard, and then hopefully get a high pick in the draft (seeing as they just traded away last year’s #3 pick in Favors).
The problem is though, the lack of free agents this summer, and the impending lockout and CBA. Melo is gone to the Knicks, the likes of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Tony Parker signed extensions with their clubs, and no superstar-calibre players are available.
Zach Randolph would be a nice addition to the Nets. He’s a career 20-10 power forward who would fit in well next to Lopez. Z-Bo will want to get paid in the summer, but the Nets have the cap space to afford him.
Failing that the Nets could trade Lopez away for a good two-guard or small forward and take a risk on oft-injured centers like Portland’s Greg Oden or Houston’s Yao Ming. Now I know Oden and Yao are always injured, but if they can somehow stay healthy and you can get them on the cheap, then they could be valuable pieces for the Nets.