New Jersey Nets: Time to Move Forward

Danny PaskasSenior Analyst IJanuary 23, 2009

With the trade deadline coming up February 20, the New Jersey Nets are looking to make a move.  Due to the lack of production at small forward, president Rod Thorn and GM Kiki Vandeweghe are exploring the possibilities of an upgrade.

Reports have the Nets discussing a deal with the Chicago Bulls that would bring malcontent, bad-locker-room guy Larry Hughes.  While Larry Hughes is not a small forward, he would take over Vince Carter’s two-guard spot, in turn moving Carter to small forward. 

While this move may improve the situation on the court, there is a good chance that it will ultimately not work.

There is no doubt that Hughes has the talent and big shot-making ability the Nets need; however, he seems to have problems everywhere he goes.  Hughes could not get anything done in his Washington days when he was with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, nor could he get anything done in his Cavs’ days with LeBron James. 

In fact, Hughes seemed to welcome a trade to get away from a winning team with LeBron to go to a subpar Chicago Bulls team.  Now Hughes wants out of Chicago.

Another target is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Mike Miller. The Nets pursued Miller before, as recently as the latest offseason. 

Miller could be a very nice fit.  He can definitely shoot and slash.  Miller’s game translates into the Nets’ current offensive system very well. 

There is only one problem, Miller does not play defense.  This would not be such a big problem if Carter, Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian, or Ryan Anderson played D.  The only one in the starting lineup who plays defense on a consistent basis, or at least tries, is rookie Brook Lopez.

The ultimate prize for New Jersey would be Washington Wizard Caron Butler.  Butler can do it all.  He has a nice mid-range game, can shoot the three when needed, can drive to the basket, and can play defense.  He also brings toughness to a Nets’ starting lineup that really has none. 

The only “tough” player the Nets have is Eduardo Najera.  Najera lacks an offensive game and most of the time cannot back up his tough talk with his game.  Butler can.

Imagine a starting lineup of Harris, Carter, Butler, Yi, and Lopez?  Sounds pretty good?  Doesn’t it?  Well, that is if Yi can stay healthy and continue to show what he did in the four-game span before he broke a finger.

Now, I know the Nets’ plans about the summer of LeBron and their Brooklyn dream in 2010. 

That being said, New Jersey really should swing for the fences and give Washington what they want for Butler.  Give them Anderson, give them Chris Douglas-Roberts, give them draft picks, give them cap relief.  Just don’t give up Lopez or Harris or Yi, other than these three, who are the future, who is untouchable?

Even with all the cap space in the world, nobody really wants to come to New Jersey to play as long as the home games are at the IZOD.  Trades are the only way the Nets are going to get All-Stars still in their prime. 

While they have the pieces, they should think now and not 2010 if and when they are playing somewhere else.