UNDER CONTRACT: G Deron Williams, G Joe Johnson, F Gerald Wallace, C Brook Lopez, F Kris Humphries, F Mirza Teletovic, F Reggie Evans, G MarShon Brooks, G C.J. Watson, G Keith Bogans, F Andray Blatche, F Josh Childress, G Jerry Stackhouse
DRAFT PICKS: G Tyshawn Taylor, F Tornike Shengelia
FREE AGENTS: G Armon Johnson
MOVES: Brooklyn’s finest has been by far the biggest player in the offseason with an unprecedented spending spree. First, the Nets made the bold move of re-signing Gerald Wallace for $40 million over four years. While pursuing Dwight Howard and waiting for Deron Williams to make a decision, GM Billy King made an even bolder move by trading extra pieces and a draft pick to Atlanta for Joe Johnson and assuming the four years and $90 million on his deal. With Wallace and Johnson locked up and Howard threatening to sign an extension only with the Nets, that was enough to convince Williams to stick around for $98 million over five years. And when King and Magic GM Rob Hennigan could not make a Howard deal work, King went to Plan B and re-signed Brook Lopez – not Howard, but a top-10 center – to a four-year, $60 million contract, preventing him from getting to the open market and retaining him as a future trade asset. The Nets then added a staggering fifth player at eight figures per year, re-signing Kris Humphries to a two-year, $24 million contract. The Nets are the first team in more than a decade to have five players making at least $10 million per season – and they still found a way to fill their bench. The Nets added some rugged frontcourt depth by signing Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic, who dominated in Euroleague play last season, and swinging a sign-and-trade with the LA Clippers for Reggie Evans, who dominated in infuriating opponents last season. Teletovic deserves some credit for agreeing to amend his contract. He initially was offered the mid-level exception, but when that hamstrung King’s flexibility, he agreed to a three-year, $9.7 million contract under the mini-mid-level exception, which kept alive the possibility of acquiring Howard. In the backcourt, Brooklyn added depth by adding C.J. Watson on a two-year deal and re-signing Keith Bogans – both of whom began last season with Chicago. Late in the offseason, the Nets also signed a pair of amnesty victims in Andray Blatche and Josh Childress. Blatche’s deal does not have a guarantee, although he is guaranteed $23 million over the next three years from Washington. Childress likely gets the spot that was going to go to Donte Greene, who was on the verge of signing before fracturing his ankle. Brooklyn also signed Jerry Stackhouse to a veteran’s minimum deal.
TO-DO LIST: The signing of Lopez meant he could not be traded until Jan. 15, and Magic GM Rob Hennigan couldn’t wait that long, dealing Howard to the LA Lakers. Even without Howard, Brooklyn has put together one of the strongest top-to-bottom rosters in the NBA. It still needs a backup center after wooing Nazr Mohammed, who chose the Bulls over the Nets. Blatche may be able to fill that bill. Two roster spots likely will go to second-round picks Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia, who have played well in the summer league.
PROJECTION: Even without Howard, the Nets have a 50-win team that could make a lot of noise in the postseason. The contributions of players such as Evans, Teletovic, Watson and MarShon Brooks – yeah, he’s still here – could push them among the league’s elite. Howard’s absence will reduce the circus-like atmosphere, but the players and coach Avery Johnson must manage expectations if they want this season to be special.
For offseason analysis of every team, click here.