- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN New York Writer
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1. One expensive Hill: The Nets are interested in Jordan Hill with their $5.25 million disabled player exception. Hill would fill their need for an athletic big man who can score, rebound and defend the post. At the same time, he’d be extremely costly. Hill makes $3.5 million in 2013-14, but the Nets would have to pay around an additional $17 million in luxury-tax penalties on top of his prorated salary for the remainder of the season (more than $1 million), making him a very expensive addition.
Brooklyn would then retain early Bird rights on Hill, and could offer the free agent a contract up to four years, $25 million in the offseason. So the Nets could end up paying more than $40 million for Jordan Hill when it’s all said and done. Regardless of who your owner is, that’s a lot for a reserve.
2. Expensive team in need of its star: Bringing in Hill could move the Nets’ total payroll (including salaries and tax penalties) from around $190 million ($88 million in taxes) to around $211 million ($105 million in taxes). And yet, in spite of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s willingness to spend whatever it takes to win, something he should be commended for, do the Nets even have a top-30 player on their roster?
Yes, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are probably worthy of that distinction when healthy, but Williams (ankles, knee) has been hurt and Lopez (foot) is out for the season. At the end of the day, all these moves or future moves the Nets are making are nice, but Williams needs to perform like he did after the All-Star break last season. His numbers (13.3 points, 6.6 assists) haven’t been good, and while the advanced stats might indicate otherwise (106.9 points per 100 possessions with Williams on the court vs. 99.7 points per 100 possessions with him off the court), the eye test, at least of late, shows otherwise. Plus, the team performed just fine without him (4-1 in January). But it would sure be nice if he could play at an All-Star level again.
3. A delicate balancing act: Speaking of the playoffs, the Nets would love to avoid the No. 7 or No. 8 seed. But it’s going to be tough for them to win consistently in the final 31 games as they try to rest Kevin Garnett and make sure he’s ready to go in the postseason. Brooklyn still has eight sets of back-to-back games remaining. Should the Nets acquire Hill, they would have a lot of depth up front: Andray Blatche, Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko and Mason Plumlee will also see minutes there.
It would certainly make it easier for them to rest Garnett. But his defensive impact cannot be understated. The Nets are 6.6 points per 100 possessions better defensively with Garnett on the court as opposed to when he’s off the court (100.5 against vs. 107.1 against). This is where Jason Kidd is going to have to earn his money as a coach, getting the rest of his players to elevate their defense when Garnett sits. Meanwhile, even if the Nets are the greatest threat to Miami and Indiana because of their experience and style of play, they’d rather not see either in the first round.
The Brooklyn Nets made the Marcus Thornton trade official Wednesday night. Now what? 1. One expensive Hill: The Nets are interested in Jordan Hill with their $5.