Can New Jersey Nets nab another star?


Earlier, I detailed the New York Knicks' chances of landing another superstar in 2012. The short version? Not likely. The Knicks are unlikely to have the salary cap space or the assets to land someone like Chris Paul or Deron Williams in the summer of 2012.

Now that the New Jersey Nets have acquired Williams, what is their cap situation? Will they have space to land a superstar either this summer or in the summer of 2012?

Their best shot at making another splash appears to be during this coming offseason. As of now, the Nets are expected to have $39 million in salaries committed to seven players this offseason. Add in cap holds, and the number moves up to a little more than $41 million. If the cap stays the same, the Nets would have roughly $17 million in space to spend unless they could figure out a way to get players like Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow off their books earlier.

No one, however, thinks the cap will stay the same. The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on June 30, a day before free agency begins. Owners are pushing for a much more restrictive CBA that likely will lower the cap in 2011, giving the Nets less to work with.

But the Nets should have options. The bigger problem might be a relatively weak 2011 free agent class. Their top target could be a player like David West (if he doesn't sign an extension with New Orleans).

Of course, the Nets could use their cap space to try to land another star or to help facilitate trades. As the Oklahoma City Thunder and other teams have proved, cap space can be valuable, even when not used to acquire stars.

If the Nets wait until 2012, their cap flexibility will decline. Brook Lopez will be a restricted free agent in 2012 and will have a cap hold of nearly $10 million. That will increase New Jersey's payroll to around $50 million, putting them pretty far away being able to sign another star to a maximum contract.