Will The Brooklyn Nets make a trade before the February 21 deadline?
If the Nets decide to make a deal, it appears the blueprint strategy will be to acquire a veteran power forward or veteran shooting guard. During the past week the Nets have been linked to Josh Smith and Ben Gordon.
A recent article in the New York Daily News also indicated Brooklyn has an interest in trading for Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap. Millsap is an intriguing prospect for the Nets because he played with Deron Williams in Utah, and would be a significant upgrade at the four spot.
According to ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Broussard, sources within the organization have stated that pursuing Smith is the highest priority. Talks between the Nets and Atlanta Hawks have been ongoing, and league sources told the Daily News that the Nets offered Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks for Smith. But Atlanta wants more for their star swing-man.
On Monday Nets general manager Billy King told reporters that he “isn’t going to make a trade just to make a trade.”
The issue with trading for Smith is that Brooklyn doesn’t have enough tradable assets. If King offered some future first-round picks in addition to Humphries and Brooks, the Hawks might be more inclined to make a deal. But based on King’s recent comments, breaking the bank for Smith seems like an unlikely scenario, unless a third team gets involved.
Given the Nets' current financial situation, it’s far more likely that King will settle on acquiring a more low-profile player like Gordon. Last Friday Chris Broussard broke the news that the Nets and Charlotte Bobcats were discussing a deal that would send Humphries to Charlotte and bring Gordon to Brooklyn.
From a financial perspective, Gordon makes sense for the Nets. The 29-year-old shooting guard has a $13.2 million player option for next season, while Humphries signed a two-year $24 million deal to stay in Brooklyn last summer. The teams would merely be swapping one bad contract for another, while filling a need.
As Broussard writes, Gordon would help the Nets space the floor and make more room for center Brook Lopez to operate in the paint. He would also improve Brooklyn’s three-point shooting, and allow the team to go small at the end of close games. The veteran guard is averaging 12.7 points per game, and shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc this season.
Gordon could become the sixth man the Nets desperately need. His ability to come off the bench and score would provide much needed relief to Joe Johnson. Johnson is averaging 38 minutes per game, and has scored over 20 points only once since the January 21 victory over the New York Knicks.
The addition of Gordon, however, doesn’t make the Nets title contenders.
If King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov want this team to be a serious title contender, they should do everything they can to acquire Millsap from the Jazz. Millsap, averaging 14.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game this season, is the scorer and rebounder the Nets desperately need at the power forward position.
At 28, Millsap is only a year older than Josh Smith, and he’s likely come at a more discounted price. Like Brooklyn, Utah has a logjam at the power forward spot. Millsap has been a solid contributor for the Jazz this season, but they’ll want to see what they have in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, especially With Millsap set to become an unrestricted free agent this off-season.
It’s a minor miracle the Nets are 31-22 with the plethora of mediocre talent they have at power forward. Kris Humphries has been relegated to the bench, and Mirza Teletovic is shooting .339 percent from three-point range. The 27-year-old Bosnian managed to shoot three airballs in 40 seconds versus the Detroit Pistons on February 6.
Reggie Evans has been a monster on the glass, averaging 9.3 rebounds per game. But he’s averaging just 3.6 points per game, and isn’t a starting-caliber player.
The acquisition of Millsap would relegate Evans to his natural spot in the second unit, and provide the starting unit with an interior scoring option other than Brook Lopez. It would also provide Deron Williams with a nice pick-and-roll partner.
Reports of the Nets interest in Millsap were released Wednesday morning, so it remains unclear what the potential deal might include.
Tradable assets could also be a problem for the Nets in trying to acquire Millsap, but Prokhorov and King have shown a propensity for spending money and trading away first-round draft picks in order to get what they desire. They may also choose to involve a third team in order to make the trade happen.
As Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com writes, King is known for being aggressive and having the ability to coordinate three- or four-team deals.
Trading Humphries for Gordon is the most likely scenario for Brooklyn at the trade deadline, but Nets fans should count on Billy King and Mikhail Prokhorov exploring every possible option in the pursuit of a top-level power forward.