Brooklyn Nets, meet rock bottom.
A league source told ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk the Houston Rockets discussed a potential trade for Deron Williams with the Nets, thereby proving that things could, in fact, get worse:
According to a league source, the Rockets had preliminary talks with the Nets last week about Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. Talks never gained any steam, but the source said the Rockets were doing their due diligence and Williams' name came up. The Nets balked because one of the main reasons Pierce and Garnett agreed to a trade to Brooklyn was to play with Williams, according to the source. Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million extension in 2012, was playing well upon returning from an ankle injury, and the Nets were looking better.
You know all hell has broken loose when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has the nerve to inquire about your franchise cornerstone. And you know panic is on the cusp of ensuing when said scenario can be discussed without chortling like Eddy Murphy on the set of every one of his movies.
Three months ago, trading Williams, a three-time All-Star, would've seemed insane. The Nets mortgaged their future to bring in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, hoping they, along with Williams, Brolo and Joe Johnson, could win now.
One never-ending string of injuries and utter disappointment later, Brooklyn has a 9-17 record, good enough for 11th place in the Eastern Conference, the league's competitive equivalent of the Play-Doh Barber Shop Olympics.
Nearly $200 million in salary and luxury taxes well spent, right?
Soon, if not immediately, Brooklyn must consider blowing its roster up. The Nets aren't slated to have real cap space until 2016, according to ShamSports.com, and don't own the rights to their own first-round draft pick until 2019, per RealGM.com.
Where's that panic button again?
Replenishing their depleted draft stock while moving long-term contracts in favor of shorter ones is one of the Nets' only plays. Riding out this current wave of desperation, hoping they catch up to the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors, only has so much upside.
Brooklyn was constructed to contend. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov is footing an exuberant tax bill for a championship, not a lower-seeded playoff berth and inevitable first-round exit.
Dismantling the roster for financial relief and future assets is sensible recourse. Unfortunately, it won't be easy. But fortunately, I've created a Craigslist ad that should help speed things along:
Wanted: Trade partners able to transport a ritzy scrap heap from Point We Screwed Up Badly to At Least This Is Cheaper-Land. Must be ready and willing to devour massive contracts in exchange for expiring pacts, draft selections and luxury-tax bill donations. Proposals must be sent directly to Nets general manager Billy King, who can be reached at the hottest seat in Brooklyn, crossroads of which are Please Don't Fire Me Mikhail Prokhorov and Whose Idea Was It To Hire Jason Kidd Anyway?
In all seriousness, deciding whether to deal D-Will is a crossroads Brooklyn is rapidly approaching.
Trading him for Asik and Lin doesn't appear to make sense, but if the Rockets include a first-rounder, the knowledge that their deals expire after next season could be enough for the Nets, especially if they find takers for some of their other talent.
"We’ve got to be up for everybody," Pierce said following a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, per the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy. "It’s not like we’re walking giants. We are bottom-feeders right now just like Philadelphia, so we’ve got to be up for everybody."
The Nets are bottom-feeders who will never become giants. They may ultimately have to consider the unthinkable and attempt to break up a superteam turned tank job.