NBA PM: NJ Nets Trade Fix
All things considered, the New Jersey Nets should be looking forward to a fantastic season. They have stars at two of the hardest positions to fill with stars – center and point guard – and they have a ton of cap space. They also don’t have any particular need to preserve that cap space, as the two biggest names available next summer – Orlando’s Dwight Howard and New Orleans’ Chris Paul – play the same positions as the current anchors of the Nets franchise.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a great deal at stake for the Nets this season.
As things stand the Nets don’t have a whole lot to offer in trade talks. Sources close to the situation tell HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Raskin that they would love to move Travis Outlaw, but his long-term contract with $28 million outstanding hasn’t garnered any interest when the team has put out the feelers. On the flip side, there is plenty of interest in Anthony Morrow, but the Nets don’t have any desire to move one of the best pure shooters in the league, especially at the bargain price of $8 million over the next two years.
The one player who is of interest around the league whom the Nets would actually part with is Jordan Farmar. There are a number of teams like the Toronto Raptors who are in search of point guard help, and the Nets would move him for the right price, though they aren’t necessarily looking to land long-term contracts. They are holding out hope that Dwight Howard will hit the open market next summer and that they could sell him on playing alongside Brook Lopez in the front court while playing off of a premier point guard in Deron Williams.
Now the question becomes – can the Nets keep Deron Williams interested short-term to assure he stays long-term? Alex Raskin covers the Nets for HOOPSWORLD, and offers up his perspective:
Keeping Williams interested all depends on the next CBA. He’ll go wherever the money is best, and if a Bird Clause still exists, he’ll probably stay.
The pitch is this: Brook Lopez, for all of his faults, is the rarest thing in the NBA. He’s a center who can score from 18 feet in and he’s good for 20 ppg every night. If you pinch pennies now, you’re still in play for Howard and if that’s the case, it’s just a matter of how much Howard wants to play with Williams.
The details are getting better (they have surprising depth at PG, an interesting rookie in MarShon Brooks and a great shooter in Morrow) so it’s just a matter of landing that third “star” (as stupid as that sounds). What other team could offer Williams more than “Lopez + 1″?
Avery Johnson’s job is to make sure he fits with Deron. New Jersey isn’t so much worse than Miami was two years ago. All it takes is the right free agents deciding to go somewhere together. Thankfully, if they don’t splurge on west or Humphries, they’ll have cap room to make noise next summer.
New owner, new arena and new city can’t hurt.
Money is important to Williams, obviously, but so is winning. He may be the Nets’ player to lose, but as HOOPSWORLD’s Jason Fleming pointed out in his Solving Problems article about the Nets, it’s no guarantee. The Nets have some work to do as soon as free agency begins, lest they risk losing nearly everything next summer.
First and foremost, there’s a decision to be made at power forward, where Kris Humphries is a free agent and there are better names available. The Nets could go all in and try to lure David West away from the New Orleans Hornets, giving them their third star immediately and daring to be great this season. They could also use their cap space to add a couple of free agents, perhaps making offers to Carl Landry and Andrei Kirilenko and thus solidifying two positions. Adding multiple players would also give the Nets to ability to make their own offer should the Magic decide they have to trade Howard at the deadline rather than risk losing him outright in free agency.
As I said, there is plenty at stake for the Nets, and the decisions they make over the next couple of months could be absolutely critical to the long-term health of the franchise. They could wind up a powerhouse team in the East for years to come, or they could fall flat on their faces.
One way or the other, the Nets are going to be one of the more interesting teams to watch as they prepare for this most crucial time in their history.
Timberwolves Introduce Adelman
You have to admire a head coach who welcomes a challenge, particularly one as respected as new Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman. The former Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers coach didn’t need to take the job, and many coaches in his situation would have passed it over in favor of waiting for a playoff team to come calling. But this is who Rick Adelman is. He wants to teach. He wants to coach. And he’ll get plenty of chances to do both as the tenth coach in Timberwolves history.
“I think they have some young talent here. It’s a chance to build something,” Adelman said at a press conference with team president David Kahn. “I could have waited for another situation but the more I looked at it, the more I thought — as a coach — it was a chance to turn something around and get it going in the right situation.”
When Adelman stepped away from the Houston Rockets last season he was talking about taking a year or two off. He never said he didn’t want to get back on the bench, he just thought he might need a little time with the family and away from the daily stress of NBA basketball. When the Timberwolves approached him, however, he started contemplating his love of the game and just couldn’t sit it out.
“When you finish a season like [last year in Houston], especially when you leave a team, you’re always think, ‘Do I need to do this again right away?’ I really felt that way for a while and wasn’t sure I wanted to [get back]. Then they approached me late in the summer and the more I talked about it, the more I thought about it, I thought, ‘Well, maybe this is a good opportunity. Maybe something better won’t come down the line. I’ll have a good chance here to see what I can do.’ I think I kind of changed as the summer went on.”
The problem with waiting for something better, of course, is that what comes along might not be better. The Rockets looked like a great opportunity for Adelman to win a championship, but injuries prevented that from ever becoming reality.
“I sure looked at that,” Adelman admitted. “When I went into Houston, I thought we were going to have an excellent chance to compete for the championship with the two guys we had. But in four years, they played 70 games [actually, just 31 together] and didn’t play the last two years. So the whole thing changed. I think you can look at every situation like that. I’m an eternal optimist, so maybe this one is going to go the opposite, where it doesn’t look so good but if we can get the right pieces mixed in with what we have, we could have a team that can start moving up.”
The Timberwolves have little choice but to move up, having had the worst record in basketball last season. Adelman’s way of making the most of the talent he has should serve the team well. They have a core group featuring All-Star Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, and the promising Ricky Rubio who could flourish with the right guidance . . .the kind of guidance Adelman has made a career of providing. He gives his teams a clean slate, something the Timberwolves definitely need.
“We’re going to have to get these guys to understand that. Whatever happened last year or the year before, is done. It’s not now. They all have to have the mentality that they’re going to trust each other and turn it. They have to buy into that. Sometimes you have to change where their comfort level is. A lot of players, when things don’t go well, they want to revert back. We’ve got to get them to understand there’s more you can do than what’s always been your strength. It’ll be my job when I get around these guys to make them understand other things they can do, and maybe you can change that mentality. You have to keep coming at ‘em.”
As excited as Adelman is to get started with his new team, he admitted he has to keep in mind that it’s a process and you can’t skip steps.
“It’s real hard, because I think the young talent is there. But there’s a couple of things you’ve got to do: You’ve got to have that young talent make strides in a lot of different positions and then you have to add some people who are going to kind of push you over the top. Sometimes it doesn’t take long. If you look around the league at teams that are really coming up, a lot of their young guys just jumped and they became really good players.”
Adelman still has some work to do, such as getting his coaching staff together. His usual lead assistant – Elston Turner – took a job with the Phoenix Suns over the summer and won’t be available. In Turner’s absence, Adelman is said to be leaning towards Portland Trail Blazers assistant Bill Bayno, with former Rockets assistants Jack Sikman, T.R. Dunn and RJ Adelman likely candidates. David Adelman and former Portland Trail Blazers point guard Terry Porter are also in the mix.
The New Face of Italian Basketball?
If the NBA lockout moves forward and winds up costing the league regular-season games, don’t be surprise if Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant returns to some of his childhood roots and helps put another country’s brand of basketball on the international map. It won’t be cheap, but if Italian basketball guru Claudio Sabatini, owner of the team Virtus Bologna, has his way, Bryant will be hopping it up all over Italy while he waits for the NBA lockout to lift.
“We have been working also last night with his agent,” Sabatini said in an interview with SkySport24. “There is still a money difference between our proposal and his request. But we are ready to go towards his requirements. I want to thank Kobe for his words for us and Italy, he showed that he is a champion in and off the court. We raised our proposal for him but we want him in Italy, not just in Bologna, because he would be a huge addition to the whole country. Kobe Bryant would re-launch the Italian basketball. Serie A will start on October 9th, we hope that the final answer is close.”
The money difference Sabatini referred to is real, as Kobe’s camp wants $15 million for the season and the Italian team has only managed to come up with $2.5 million for the first month. Still, Bryant truly wants to play basketball in Italy, so the money is bound to follow.
“Italy is my home,” Bryant said in a recent interview with the Italian media. “It’s where I started to nurture my dream of playing in the NBA. This is where I learned the basics. I learned to shoot, to pass, to move without the ball – things that when I went back to the States my friends didn’t know how to do because all they thought about was jumping and dunking.”
The NBA players and owners are meeting again on Friday, and as HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Raskin reported this morning, commissioner David Stern is saying if there aren’t significant strides made in this meeting he’s going to start canceling games. Don’t be surprised, if Stern starts canceling games, if you see a deal cut that makes Kobe Bryant the new international face of Italian basketball.
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