Monday, May 6, 2013
Five Questions: Nets' offseason
By Mike Mazzeo
The future of the Nets could be in the hands of Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan or Larry Brown.
The Nets’ first season in Brooklyn is over. And it ended much earlier than they had hoped.
So ... now what?
ESPNNewYork.com takes a look at five questions the team faces heading into the offseason:
1. Who will coach the team in 2013-14?
Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo is out. Now what? The players want a veteran coach who demands accountability and runs an offense predicated on ball movement and motion. Some of the names being mentioned include Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers, Jeff Van Gundy, Larry Brown, Jerry Sloan and Brian Shaw. GM Billy King said the Nets aren’t necessarily looking for a big-name guy, they’re looking for the right guy.
2. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants another great player. How can King make that happen?
The Nets are going to be well over the salary cap and luxury-tax apron, meaning they can’t sign-and-trade for players. As a result, King, fresh off signing a multiyear contract extension, is going to have to get creative. His assets include Kris Humphries' $12 million expiring contract, MarShon Brooks' rookie-scale deal and future first-round draft picks. Seems like a decent package for a team looking to deal a bigger contract and shed salary. King said Sunday, however, he doesn’t necessarily have to make a trade and could find that player as a diamond in the rough in free agency a la Andray Blatche. King also said he is looking to bring over intriguing Euro-stash prospect Bojan Bogdanovic, who could give the team more shooting help on the wing.
Hopefully, the post-All-Star break Williams. Williams was terrible in the first 50 games of the season as he battled ankle and wrist injuries, averaging just 16.7 points on 41.3 percent shooting. But after he got his third set of cortisone shots, Williams averaged 22.9 points on 48.1 percent shooting. In the playoffs, he averaged 20.6 points on 42.5 percent shooting. The Nets are a much better team when Williams is healthy and dominant. They could certainly use a full season of All-Star play from him in 2013-14. D-Will said he plans to rest during the summer, which will hopefully lead to his being 100 percent by the start of next season.
Probably not. Evans is a brilliant rebounder -- he led the NBA in 20-rebound games and rebounds per 48 minutes -- but he is mostly an offensive liability. The Nets had spacing problems with Evans and Gerald Wallace (when he was struggling) on the floor at the same time -- essentially playing 3-on-5 when they struggled. Evans is better-served playing 16 to 20 minutes a night. The Nets could use a more offensive-minded power forward to complement Evans and get the bulk of the minutes at that spot. Maybe Blatche is the answer in a starting role if the Nets keep him.
5. Will the Bench Mob stay together?
Given the financial issues mentioned above, it’s going to be tough. Both Blatche (unrestricted, no Bird rights) and C.J. Watson (player option for the minimum) are going to be free agents. Both can get more money elsewhere since the Nets can offer only the veteran’s minimum or the taxpayer mini-midlevel exception (approximately three years, $10 million). Blatche is the more likely of the two to stay since he is already making $16 million from Washington over the next two seasons due to his amnesty, and the Nets gave him a second chance in the NBA. Watson can get the minimum anywhere, so it seems unlikely he’d decide to exercise his option. If either leaves, it’s going to be tough to replace them. Veterans Jerry Stackhouse and Keith Bogans are also free agents.