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Updated Long-Term Plan for Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8) congratulates teammate Brook Lopez (11) after Lopez scored against the Utah Jazz during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, in New York. Brooklyn defeated Utah 104-88. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Jason DeCrow/Associated Press
Frank CesareContributor IIJuly 31, 2014

The Brooklyn Nets are no longer shortsighted and settling for flashy veterans.

In past years, general manager Billy King sacrificed youth, depth and potential in the form of future draft picks for overpaid players in the twilight of their careers. That was no longer the case when King acquired three second-round draft picks and let Paul Pierce go in free agency instead of crippling the franchise with luxury-tax implications. 

Looking ahead, some turbulence may be expected, but there are reasons to be hopeful. 

 

Rounding Out the Roster

Brooklyn did well to compensate for Shaun Livingston's departure by trading for Jarrett Jack and picking up Markel Brown. Both players should be solid pieces in head coach Lionel Hollins' rotation.

A little more size could be useful, however.

The Nets don't have much depth and reliability up front, aside from Mason Plumlee and Mirza Teletovic due to Kevin Garnett's age and Brook Lopez's injury history. Andray Blatche also hasn't yet been re-signed, which could further weaken Brooklyn's front court if he goes elsewhere. 

Blatche needs to be retained if possible, and a play should be made for a shot-blocker like Ekpe Udoh, who is only 26 years old. Standing in at 6'10", Udoh's long arms and good athleticism will fill a void for the Nets. 

He runs the floor well and should be effective in transition. His energy and leaping ability will be a nice catalyst off the bench, and he shouldn't come at too high of a price. 

There could always be a couple of trades made in the near future that help mold the Nets and provide a sustainable outlook.

 

Headwinds Ahead

Deron Williams and Brook Lopez have been sidled by chronic injuries, and there are no guarantees whether they will play enough games at a high enough level to justify their contracts. Both men are immensely paid and one has to question whether the risk justifies the reward when it comes to paying max contracts to two injury-prone players.

When healthy, Williams and Lopez are two of Brooklyn's best, but if they peaked performance-wise due to their body's woes, there may not be much rationale in keeping them as their value dwindles. 

Williams and Lopez could return to form this season, but their health will always be of concern. It may make the most sense for King to move one or both men while their legacies are in front of their shadows, instead of rolling the dice and delaying the inevitable rebuilding process. 

Shedding Williams and Lopez's contracts while bringing in young players and draft picks will change popular sentiment toward the organization.

Instead of sporting a bloated salary cap on the verge of the luxury tax while floundering in the playoffs, chasing financial flexibility will allow for a long-term vision and plan to develop. 

There are no guarantees when it comes to draft picks and cap space, but the future for Williams and Lopez is equally questionable. 

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