While they did have the money to offer and outbid for good players like Nene Hilario, Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler, they declined to overpay.
Each of these players would have definitely made the Nets better and maybe even a sixth seed for the playoffs if paired with a healthy Brook Lopez, but the cost would have been too great.
A starting five of Deron Williams, MarShon Brooks, Caron Butler, Nene/Lopez, Lopez/Chandler was not going to bring a championship to New Jersey or Brooklyn.
It is better to be a lottery team than a perennial playoff team with no realistic shot at winning it all.
While the perennial playoff team would have all the salary cap used up to pay for mediocrity, a lottery-bound team would at least have a chance to land a great player—possibly a superstar—cheaply through the draft.
The Nets should not stop their pursuit of Howard until he officially signs an extension with the team he is traded to. This puts all future moves on hold until possibly the next free-agency signing period.
Waiting is worth the risk.
With Mehmet Okur's, Kris Humphries' and DeShawn Stevenson's contracts expiring after the season and Deron Williams opting out of his, the Nets will have the money to sign Howard and Williams as free agents in addition to a possible lottery pick in what will be a loaded draft.
This, of course, would be best case scenario.
If Howard gets traded and/or signs somewhere else, Deron Williams may be a goner. Assuming he stays, a nucleus of Williams, MarShon Brooks, Brook Lopez, Anthony Morrow, a lottery pick and ample salary cap room to sign the missing pieces could be a decent starting point.
If Howard is no longer a possibility, here are five other moves the Nets can make.