NBA Offseason Analysis, Part 1: Dwight or Bust.
By: Marcus Ferro
This week I will be breaking down all the big offseason moves in order of occurrence and discussing how they will impact the teams involved and the league as a whole. Today, I begin with the spendthrift power moves made by the newly relocated, Brooklyn Nets.
In a desperate but effective move to appease free agent superstar, Deron Williams, the Nets acquired Joe Johnson via trade, in exchange for Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, DeShawn Stevenson and Jordan Williams, Johan Petro and a lottery protected first round pick. Johnson was with at Atlanta since 2005 and was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team every season since 2007; but since signing a ridiculous 6 year nearly $120 million contract, he has had his worst two seasons yet. That contract was regarded as a terrible decision at the time, and two seasons down the road Atlanta most certainly regretted it. Luckily for the Hawks, the New Jersey said “Hey, ATL. I know you recklessly threw a massive pile of money at a 29 year-old, steadily declining, second-tier All-Star, but here’s a bunch of players with expiring contracts, we’ll take this now 31 year old shooting guard and his albatross of a contract and nearly screw ourselves out of the Dwight Howard race because we aren’t sure if wishing Deron a happy birthday on a sign is going to be a grand enough gesture to keep him.”
Yes, the move did convince Williams to stay, well that and $98 milllion (pushing them to the brink of salary cap hell with Johnson’s owed salary). Yes, they still have a shot at Dwight, but is their offer to the Magic more enticing than the Lakers already established All-Star center, Andrew Bynum? Yes, the Nets are a much better team with Joe Johnson, but without Dwight they are at the most, second to Miami (that’s accounting for Derrick Rose not coming back healthy, the Celtics finally showing their age and the immensely talented Knicks not figuring it out).
It has been over 2 years since Nets owner, Mikhail Prokhorov guaranteed a championship to (the few) Nets fans within 5 seasons. They are certainly in a position to contend in the East pairing Deron Williams, one of the league’s elite point guards and a borderline top 10 overall player, with Joe Johnson a perennial All-Star, making for perhaps the best backcourt in the league. Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries give them a big, physical front court. However, if they are ever going to compete with Miami, they need Dwight Howard. Without Howard, Prokhorov’s promise will likely never be realized.