I’ve been getting this question a lot lately on Twitter.
Can the Nets go into next season with a lineup of Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, their likely lottery pick, Brook Lopez and Dwight Howard?
ESPN.com’s capologist Larry Coon was kind enough to help me out with this, and offered much of this scenario up in an e-mail.
Right now, the Nets are committed to the following players for the 2012-13 campaign:
Anthony Morrow $ 4million
Johan Petro $3.5 million
MarShon Brooks $1.16 million
Jordan Williams $762K
They also have a pair of players who have player options:
Jordan Farmar $4.25 million
Shawne Williams $3.135 million
And then there’s restricted free agent Brook Lopez, who carries around a $7.5 million cap hold.
Oh, right, and then there’s that D-Will character. Once he opts out, Williams will be eligible to receive a five-year max deal from the Nets that will be worth $98.77 million. Given 7.5 percent increases, you’re looking at $17.18 million in year one.
Add all of that up, and you get about $41.5 million.
Then you have to factor in draft pick holds. If the season ended Thursday, the Nets would have two of them: their own and Houston’s (lotto protected).
For this example’s sake, let’s say, based on the current standings, the Nets get the seventh pick and the Rockets’ pick, which would be 15th.
The cap hold for the seventh pick is $2.3 million, while the cap hold for the 15th pick is $1.4 million.
Now you’re talking $45.2 million for 10 roster spots.
But what about the holds for the other two roster spots? That’s like a little under $1 million. So now you’re at about $46.2 million.
This season, the salary cap was $58.044 million. Next season, it can’t be any lower.
OK, so based on all those hypothetical situations, the Nets would have $11.9 million in cap space.
D-12, assuming he gets to free agency, is eligible to make around $19 million in the first year of his max deal. So, the Nets would have to free up $7.1 in cap space to sign him.
The Nets could either renounce their rights to Lopez or execute a sign-and-trade -- even one where the Nets and Magic sign-and-trade Howard and Lopez for each other.
Now, the Nets could also hope that Farmar and Shawne Williams decide against exercising their options and become unrestricted free agents instead. That could also work.
Or, they could deal any two of Farmar, Shawne Williams and Morrow -- and perhaps throw in picks as incentive -- in exchange for a future second-round pick or something of that nature in order to clear room. The Nets are allowed to go over the cap to re-sign Lopez.
So basically, the Nets CAN make the above scenario work ... but it’s no easy task, and there are still a lot of unknowns (draft pick cap holds, salary cap number, cap space etc...).
Once the season ends, this will all become much more clear.