Saturday, November 26, 2011
Top 3 Nets free-agent targets
By Jared Zwerling
Now the fun is about to begin, and it's not because Kris Humphries is reportedly on the dating market. It's because the Nets have a lot of work to do from now until the start of the upcoming season, after a new CBA was tentatively reached between the NBA players and owners early Saturday morning. The first priority may be to potentially lock up Humph, an unrestricted FA, for his interior scoring and rebounding. But there is another guy out there who could fit the power forward bill better. That's where we start off.
1.) David West -- While Humph turned into a double-double threat in the second half of last season, his game is really suited for 10 feet around the basket. Whereas West, who was recently given full medical clearance after undergoing surgery in April to reconstruct his left ACL, can step out to 20 feet. He's not a guy who will take you off the dribble consistently like a prototypical small forward, but he's big enough (6-foot-9, 240) to get to the basket. The Nets should give West a serious look -- for one he's still in his prime at 31; two because the team was 24-58 last year; and three because they only averaged 94.2 points per game (third-worst in the league). I'm forgetting a fourth: consistency. Between Travis Outlaw, Stephen Graham and whoever else, the team couldn't settle on an everyday scoring forward. West can be that guy.
Honorable Mention: Caron Butler -- He's the same age as West, but he's showing more decline in his career.
Not Realistic: Arron Afflalo -- While his stats don't pop out at you, the Nuggets like his upward trajectory as their starting small forward. Plus, he's a restricted free agent.
2.) Andrei Kirilenko -- It may not be hard to convince AK47 to come to New Jersey -- better yet, Brooklyn. Here's why: If you recall, in his third, fourth and fifth seasons with the Jazz, Kirilenko became a legit scoring threat, averaging more than 15 points per game. But when Deron Williams developed and Carlos Boozer arrived, he wasn't happy about taking a backseat in the offense. Not only would he get plenty of touches at the Prudential Center -- we all know he can defend -- but he would feel right at home with a fellow Russian, Mikhail Prokhorov, running the ship. Not to mention, next year the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, where there is a large Russian population. Imagine this: AK47 fighting for highway billboard space with Melo!
Honorable Mention: Shane Battier -- While he can't score inside like AK47, his basketball IQ is off the charts and he's deadly from the corner. Most importantly, the Nets will like to hear he's helped turn teams around. Just look at the Grizzlies last year.
Not Realistic: Thaddeus Young -- He's a restricted free agent and the Sixers love his upside.
3.) Jamal Crawford -- Crawford has played well in Atlanta, but the Hawks may have reached their ceiling. Case in point: Head coach Mike Woodson was fired after six seasons and joined the Knicks this summer. Crawford may feel a connection to New Jersey because of likeable head coach Avery Johnson, the team's inside-out dynamic duo in Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, and their room for growth on and off the court (Brooklyn). The Nets should go after Crawford no matter what because he's the best sixth man available, and he'd complement starting two Anthony Morrow coming off the bench. Morrow would provide 3-point shooting off of D-Will and Lopez's feeds, and Crawford could take over scoring duties whenever either of those guys are resting. Again, let me reiterate: The Nets were third-worst in the league in scoring.
Honorable Mention: J.R. Smith -- He's not as consistent as Crawford, but he would provide a scoring punch off the bench. The question is, will he be able to opt out of his contract in China? That's up to his agent, Leon Rose.
Not Realistic: Nick Young -- He's a restricted free agent and the Wizards are looking to make him the focal point in their offense.
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