Where do the Nets go from here?

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
8:17
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The Hornets were the big winners in the NBA draft lottery, landing the No. 1 pick, which is expected to be Kentucky big man Anthony Davis.

The Nets, on the other hand, were the biggest losers. They only had a 25 percent chance of keeping their top-3 protected first rounder. The ping-pong balls didn’t bounce their way.

Many question marks still remain as the franchise heads to Brooklyn and the $1 billion Barclays Center.

So now what?

ESPN NewYork.com examines what’s ahead for the Nets in the offseason:

Where do they stand now?

The Nets have the No. 57 pick in the second round of the draft and four players guaranteed to be under contract for 2012-13: Anthony Morrow, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Williams and Johan Petro.

It looks like the makings of an expansion team, doesn’t it?

Can they keep D-Will?

Deron Williams is going to opt out of his contract and become a free agent on July 1. It’s pretty much D-Will or bust for the Nets at this point. Williams hasn’t ruled out re-signing, but has said he’ll only do so if the team puts pieces around him.

As you can see from the above roster, that hasn’t happened yet. Williams dismissed a report that said he’d only stay if the Nets get Dwight Howard. But if he’s really more concerned about winning than money and endorsements, he may go elsewhere.

What about their other free agents?

D-Will isn’t Brooklyn’s only free agent. Brook Lopez (restricted), Gerald Wallace (likely to decline his opt-in), Gerald Green (unrestricted) and Kris Humphries (unrestricted) are also candidates to play elsewhere.

Lopez likely isn’t going anywhere. The Nets want him back and he wants to be back.

Wallace wants a multi-year contract, and ESPN.com’s Chad Ford reported recently that he’s heard a three-year, $24 million pact could be in the works. Wallace is 30, though, and may not want to play for a rebuilding squad at this point in his career.

Green wants to stay since the Nets gave him a second chance to play in the NBA, but after having a breakout end of the season, he’ll likely have other suitors because he can fill it up.

And then there’s Humphries, who has been a pleasant surprise in his last two seasons with the franchise. Still, the Nets may elect to go in a different direction. They like Kevin Garnett, Ryan Anderson and Ersan Ilyasova, according to sources. Of course, convincing those players to come to Brooklyn if they don’t have D-Will could be a problem.

Will GM Billy King deliver?

King has come under heavy scrutiny ever since he dealt the top-3 protected first-rounder to Portland for Wallace. But despite losing a very valuable asset it in the No. 6 pick, King defended the trade after the draft.

He also remains confident that the team can re-sign Williams and Wallace.

King pursued Howard hard last season, and if the big man decides he wants out of Orlando for good, those talks will certainly pick up again.

King is also looking to bring over 2011 second-round pick Bojan Bogdanovic over from Turkey, but he doesn’t have an out in his contract until 2013. He’d have to negotiate a buyout, which could prove to be too expensive, since Bogdanovic would have to contribute all but $525,000 under NBA rules.

King could also try to swing a deal to acquire more picks in the draft. He’s had a history of doing this.

King’s tenure as GM of the Nets will be defined by whether he can keep Williams. He may have a contingency plan ready if it doesn’t work out, but it could be devastating for a franchise trying to gain steam.

And remember, apathy doesn’t exist in New York.

ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard suggests King explore trading Williams and Lopez to the Lakers for Andrew Bynum and Ramon Sessions in an Insider piece.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Deron Williams
PTS AST STL MIN
16.2 6.9 1.2 35.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 8.5
AssistsD. Williams 6.9
StealsD. Williams 1.2
BlocksB. Lopez 1.7