Give Billy King and the Brooklyn Nets credit for finally having a Plan B when it comes to building their team for the 2012-13 season. That Plan B came in the form of a blockbuster trade to land Atlanta's Joe Johnson. But now that Johnson is in the fold, where do the Nets go from here?
The Nets can make themselves contenders, and they can do it without having to part with assets in order to acquire Dwight Howard.
First and foremost, the Nets must make sure point guard Deron Williams is in the fold. That gives them three All-Stars in Williams, Johnson and Gerald Wallace.
In addition to adding a talented European player in Bosnian forward Mirza Teletovic and a reported sign-and-trade to bring in big man Reggie Evans, the Nets have a talented core to build around.
Secondly, the Nets must forget about Howard. They should learn from the New York Knicks—who gave up way too much to acquire Carmelo Anthony and are now cash-strapped—and the Miami Heat, who, despite their Big Three, needed a supporting cast to win the NBA championship.
Acquiring Howard kills the Nets' depth, and they will find themselves with no money left to improve the team for years to come. Instead, keeping the likes of MarShon Brooks and Brook Lopez makes the Nets stronger.
Finally, without Howard, they should have enough money left over to add a decent power forward. I'm just speculating here, but a player such as Ersan Ilyasova could be a great fit in Brooklyn.
A rotation of Williams, Johnson, Wallace, Ilyasova, Lopez, Evans, Teletovic and Brooks would be a solid eight to build a team around. They may not be championship contenders right off the bat, but the Nets would become a big threat in the Atlantic Division.
That's one giant step forward.