Hope is scant for the Brooklyn Nets.
They were already struggling to remain relevant in the ghastly Eastern Conference when it was announced Brook Lopez was lost for the season. On top of that, they'll always look on with bated breath, hoping against hope and past precedence Deron Williams doesn't join Brolo on the sidelines.
Now, then, seems like the perfect time to panic. But the Nets won't.
"Not at this point," Nets general manager Billy King said of blowing up the roster, per the New York Times' Harvey Araton. "We’re not there."
Yet. The Nets aren't there yet. Sometime soon, they could be.
Failure to land extra depth, failure to add impact players in wake of Lopez's absence will leave them with no other choice but to slam that panic button and wave goodbye to everything this season was supposed to be.
What do the Nets have to offer?
In one word: Nothing. To be more kind, not much.
They don't have a first-rounder to offer until 2020, per RealGM.com. They're also on the hook for $102.2 million in player salaries before taxes, according to owner Mikhail Prokhorov's bank statement ShamSports.com, leaving them unable to absorb any bad contracts.
Under these circumstances, I would implore Brooklyn to blow it up. But we know the Nets won't do that, because they're "not there" yet.
That leaves us to assume Brooklyn is still all in on this season. Still interested in salvaging what's left of this expensive roster.
To do this, the Nets will need to use any and all available assets, including that 2020 first-round pick, while hopefully capitalizing off another team's desire to tank and/or gain some cap relief.
There will be a steep price to pay and an inordinate number of hoops Brooklyn must jump through, but prolonging the shelf life of this combine was never going to be easy, even before Brolo went down.
I'm absolutely going here.
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.
Bleacher Report's Howard Beck confirmed Youngmisuk's report reiterating that "nothing came of it."
Well, something should definitely come of it.
Trading Williams, a three-time All-Star, implies the Nets are blowing it up, because that's exactly what they're doing. But they're giving themselves a better shot at winning now.
Thing is, Williams isn't healthy. He's been battling ankle issues since he arrived, and one only need look at Brook Lopez to see how those types of injuries can end.
Lin is also averaging more points per game, shooting at a higher clip and posting a better PER than Williams. As a pick-and-roll savvy point man, he would look good next to KG and The Truth.
Asik, who doesn't demand the ball as much, would also look mighty fine next to KG. He's a stronger defender than Lopez, and allows Garnett to become more of a focal point on offense. With his contract set to expire after next season, he's also a major trade asset come 2014-15 when Lopez returns.
Toss in a future first-round pick, and the Nets could better position themselves for a surprise run this season while improving their increasingly bleak long-term outlook.
Trust me, I know it's beyond unlikely. But it's something to consider. And hey, if the Rockets decide to sell extremely low or are enticed by the inclusions of a first-round pick they couldn't get from other teams (2020), perhaps the Nets could package a few of their cheaper assets together and snag one or the other.
Should the opportunity present itself (also unlikely), that's worth considering, too.
At least this wouldn't cost the Nets Williams.
Big bodies are of more value to the Nets now that Brook Lopez is sidelined, but his absence also increases the importance of the point guard position, where Brooklyn is Kevin Durant-thin.
D-Will is hardly immune to missing time, and Lowry would be an instant upgrade over Shaun Livingston. When Williams is healthy, he essentially gives the Nets two starting point guards, deepening their bench and making for some nice backcourt combinations when Jason Kidd decides to run dual-point guard lineups.
Lowry is also a player to whom the Nets have already been linked. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported they were heavily involved in trade talks with the Toronto Raptors before stepping back after Lowry's price tag became too high.
But now's not the time for shy pockets. Apprehension is befitting of a team blowing it up. We're operating under the assumption that Brooklyn wants to save its season.
That being the case, Lowry should be a target, if only because he's actually obtainable.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported the Sacramento Kings weren't done dealing, following their acquisition of Rudy Gay. He also named Jason Thompson as the player Sactown was most interested in unloading.
Here come the Nets.
Thompson can man the center position in a small Eastern Conference, ensuring the Nets don't run Garnett and Mason Plumlee ragged. He's also on a reasonable deal that's paying him under $5.7 million this season.
Lacking valuable assets, the Nets can only hope Sacramento is interested in some combination of second-round picks and comparable salaries on shorter deals. Throwing in that 2020 first-round pick might be necessary as well.
Size isn't something the Nets are replete with. And while running small is more than plausible in a tiny Eastern Conference, they don't have that big man capable of logging 30-plus minutes of action every night. Those days are gone for Garnett, Plumlee is still too new and Andray Blatche's conditioning still isn't conducive to that kind of court time.
Adding another frontcourt member like Thompson, who can pitch in 25-30 minutes a game, could be the depth-creating move this diminutive Nets team now craves.
I'm not crazy. Nor am I hanging out with J.R. Smith. Promise.
The Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd pointed out that the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't desperate to move Anderson Varejao, but his name was linked to Asik rumors and it's become evident he isn't untouchable.
If you're the Nets, you're calling a third team like the Philadelphia 76ers to see if a deal cannot be struck. Cleveland reportedly had interest in Evan Turner, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard, so the Nets could see if there's anything they have, in addition to picks (second-rounders and that 2020 first-rounder) that could compel Philly to capitalize on its forward's inevitable departure.
Something like this, where the Nets assemble a package around Mirza Teletovic while sending interior depth Cleveland's way could present a nice framework. Again, what little draft assets the Nets have must be shipped to Philly as well.
But it could be worth it to pair Varejao, a double-double machine before this season, with Garnett. Only $4 million of his salary is guaranteed next season, so he becomes a valuable trade asset come summertime, too.
Compiling enough assets to make this work financially is easy. Logically, it won't be as simple. But for this season's sake, the Nets have to try.
If you can't beat them big, spread the floor.
But Young is owed $28.2 million through 2016-17, so it may not matter. Philly was heavily involved in talks involving Asik, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, and Young was considered prime bait because of his contract.
The Nets do have a few players on reasonable deals, most notably Mirza Teletovic, who would promote the Sixers' current rebuild.
Once more, we're back to that 2020 first-round draft pick being a potential buffer. The Sixers are tanking quite nicely at this point, so cheaper assets won't be enough to sell Philly on a deal.
Young is shooting a blistering 44 percent from deep this season and at nearly 17 points per game, he brings much-needed offense to a Nets team that just lost their leading scorer.
Does Brooklyn have enough to strike a deal? We don't know.
Story of Brooklyn's season.