By Dennis Berry
Last offseason it was the Los Angeles Clippers that made the headlines. Acquiring Chris Paul turned the Clippers from a NBA Draft lottery team into the playoffs.
This offseason another team that has been down on its luck is trying to change course. The New Jersey Nets… err the Brooklyn Nets are making moves to climb the Eastern Conference ladder. They now have pieces to make a playoff run.
It started when the Nets resigned Gerald Wallace to a four year contract. Wallace was acquired last year in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. The draft pick ended up being the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Blazers used that pick to draft Damian Lillard.
Resigning Wallace was a key for the Nets this offseason. He averaged 15.2 points in 16 games as a Net last year. After giving up what was a high NBA draft pick the Nets had to keep Wallace on the roster. It was the only way to justify giving up a high draft pick.
The Nets' next move was getting another wing player. They locked in on the Atlanta Hawk's Joe Johnson. In Atlanta last year Johnson averaged 18.8 points on 45% shooting last year. The Nets sent Jordan Farmer, Johan Petro, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Williams and a first round pick to Atlanta for Johnson. All the players are entering the final year of their contract.
The addition of Johnson gives the Nets another outside scorer to pair with Wallace. Wallace is known more for driving to the basket and scoring around the paint. Johnson is more of an outside shooter and likes to play one-on-one.
Adding Johnson also was a sign to the Nets' most important free agent: point guard Deron Williams. The Nets traded for Williams at the end of the 2011 season. Their intent was to be able to build around the All-Star point guard and they knew that this offseason, they would have to make their move.
Williams was down to two teams; The Nets and the Dallas Mavericks. Williams was from Dallas and that gave the Mavericks an edge. The Nets could give Williams more money.
Tuesday night Williams announced his decision on Twitter to stay with the Nets. Now the Nets have an All-Star backcourt with Williams and Johnson. With Wallace on the wings, they also have a dynamic core on the wings.
There is only one thing missing for the Nets...a dominant big man. While Brooke Lopez has done a great job in the post, the Nets need more to contend in the East.
There just so happens to be a big man out there that wants to play for Brooklyn. That would be All-Star Center Dwight Howard. The past year has been nothing but trade rumors surrounding Howard and the Nets. Now it appears that the Nets are making a play to bring him in.
While the Nets have the edge with Howard – who he told the Magic to trade him to – they are not the only team trying to get him. The Lakers are considering offering their All-Star center, Andrew Bynum. The Hawks have freed up a ton of cap space to make a run at Howard. The Houston Rockets are still interested in him also.
Let's forget all that and assume that Howard will end up in Brooklyn.
The Nets would turn into not only Eastern Conference contenders, but NBA title contenders. They would have a big three in Howard, Williams, and Johnson. Williams, one of the best point guards in the NBA, has plenty of options to distribute the ball. Howard would finally be on a team with other All-Star players. Johnson could flourish as a number three scorer. Gerald Wallace would be perfect in a role as the fourth best player.
They would have a shot in the Eastern Conference. With Chicago without Derrick Rose until January, the Nets would have to battle the Celtics and Indiana for second place in the Eastern Conference. They would have a group of players that could challenge Miami as well.
Recently we ranked the best players in the NBA without a championship ring. Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard were all on that list. If Howard goes to Brooklyn, they may not be on that list for long.
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