The Nets off-season clock started ticking at roughly 3 a.m. Saturday morning, and there’s a lot of work to do.
The good news is that the Nets physically are more prepared than any other team to start an NBA season today. Their best player Deron Williams spent the work stoppage playing in one of Europe’s most competitive leagues. Seven other players signed deals overseas.
The bad news is that the Nets were a bad team in 2010-11. From a management standpoint, the Nets have more to do than most teams.
Where does the off-season start for Billy King?
1. Get rid of Travis Outlaw This is priority No. 1. Many will argue that signing Deron Williams is a top priority, but he’s not going to sign a long-term deal in the three-plus weeks leading up to the NBA season. The goal in retaining Williams is putting the best team possible on the floor to show the point guard the franchise is going in the right direction. The way to do that is ridding the salary cap of last season’s biggest mistake.
While every detail is not yet known about the new collective bargaining agreement, it is believed that an amnesty clause is part of the deal. This means the Nets will be able to erase a $35 million mistake in Travis Outlaw. A get out of jail free card.
Outlaw was eating up $7 million annually and shooting roughly 35 percent from the field. Outlaw admittedly had a nightmare of a season, and he’s not as bad as he played, but he’s not as good as his contract. He’s no more than a sixth or seventh man off the bench.
The money saved from this coup potentially could go towards priority No. 2.
2. Find a power forward Deron Williams will likely play assistant general manager on this one. Who does he want to play with?
Kris Humphries, David West, and Nene are among the candidates.
Each player brings a pro and con list with them. Humphries shined in New Jersey last season, but he might overrate his dollar value. West boasts the best skillset, but he’s coming off a knee injury at 31-years old. Nene has traditionally played center, making him a gamble at power forward despite his dominant inside game.
Tyson Chandler is another name often rumored with the Nets, but he makes little sense from a power forward standpoint. Brook Lopez could slide over to the four, but neither Chandler or Lopez have the athleticism to play the power forward spot.
3. Sign Deron Williams This is a long-term project. The signing won’t happen overnight and it will certainly take a lot of wining and dining.
Billy King and Avery Johnson need to make the package as enticing as possible. Everyone knows about the move to Brooklyn, but the Nets will need to show improvement on the floor in order to keep this superstar.
4. Brooks’ assimilation Perhaps the player greatest affected by the lockout is MarShon Brooks.
Without a traditional traning camp and preseason, King and Johnson are in the dark as to how Brooks, a college phenom, will translate into the NBA. In an ideal world, Brooks would open the season as the starting shooting guard.
Do the Nets need outside help at the position, though? A question that’s more easily answered without the lockout.
Players like Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, and J.R. Smith will certainly garner consideration.