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Friday, December 9, 2011
Nets' 2011-12 training camp preview

By Mike Mazzeo

The Nets finally open training camp at 4 p.m. Friday in East Rutherford, N.J. -- hours after ESPN.com's Chris Broussard reported that Orlando center Dwight Howard is going to ask to be traded to New Jersey. It would cost a lot: Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks would likely be the starting point.

Here's a camp primer:

THEY’RE BACK: PG Deron Williams, PG Jordan Farmar, PG Sundiata Gaines, SG Anthony Morrow, SF Travis Outlaw, SF Damion James, SF Stephen Graham (non-guaranteed), C/PF Brook Lopez, C Johan Petro, GM Billy King, HC Avery Johnson, AC Popeye Jones, AC Tom Barrise, AC Doug Overton

NEWCOMERS: SG Marshon Brooks, C/PF Jordan Williams, AC P.J. Carlesimo, AC Mario Elie

FREE AGENTS: PF Kris Humphries, PF Brandan Wright

STAYING OVERSEAS: SG/SF Sasha Vujacic, C/PF Dan Gadzuric, PG Ben Uzoh

BIGGEST NEEDS: A physical interior compliment to Lopez in the frontcourt, an upgrade at small forward and more depth on the bench.

CURRENT CAP SPACE: $9.5 million, but could become $22 million to $23 million if Outlaw -- and the remaining four years and $28 million on his contract -- is waived via the amnesty clause and Humphries' $6 million cap hold is renounced.

FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS: Filling out the starting five and continuing to acquire assets. Obviously, the Nets have a lot of holes and would love to get better. At the same time, they don't want to spend recklessly like they did last offseason. They'll be cautious, but that doesn’t mean they'll stand pat. An improved team increases the likelihood that Williams will agree to stay by the time the Nets head to Brooklyn.

DON'T BE SURPRISED IF: The Nets land someone you don't expect. They did it last season. After missing out on Carmelo Anthony, King pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire Williams. The dream scenario for the franchise would be pairing Howard with D-Will.

STAT OF NOTE: The Nets ranked 28th in the NBA in scoring.

REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: After playing in Turkey and having that 50-point game during the lockout, Williams appears healthy and will be with the Nets for the entire season; Lopez worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon during the offseason; Brooks was the second-leading scorer in the nation his senior year at Providence; Farmar and Gaines played overseas as well; the Nets have assets to make a major trade.

REASONS FOR PESSIMISM: The free-agent crop is weak, it’s going to be hard to make additions and the Nets' roster is lacking in depth and talent. Making additions is going to be a challenge.

THE NETS WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS IF: They add two impact starters, Williams plays like a 20-and-10 point guard and Lopez improves his rebounding and defense.