The Nets' offseason isn't shaping up too terribly.
It began a little awkwardly, when they dealt fan favorite Richard Jefferson for overpriced Bobby Simmons and enigmatic Yi Jianlian. The move has two purposes.
One, to acquire Yi, who was drafted sixth-overall last year, and is too much of a prospect to be given up on. And two, to acquire Simmons's contract, which expires in the magical year of 2010, the same year that features free agent LeBron James.
We all know of the speculation, and everyone has their own opinions on the matter—but we all know the Nets want LeBron, we all know LeBron is besties with Nets owner Jay-Zed, and we all know the recent comments Lebron made about New York and Brooklyn.
The Nets made a move that fit their plan, and it's a pretty realistic plan at that. Point is, however, it was mainly a move for the future, as Yi apparently still needs to develop, and the Simmons side won't be effective until two years from now. The Nets then had a very productive draft, but that's still more for the future than now. While all three draftees expect to immediately produce, they're all (obviously) rookies this year, and won't be great for a few years. But the Nets apparently haven't given up on this year yet. They've seriously improved their bench with the signings of Jarvis Hayes and Eduardo Najera.
Najera, incidentally, is now the Nets' oldest player at 32, and is expected to provide some veteran guidance for this young team. And today, they added veteran point guard Keyon Dooling, formerly of Orlando, in a sign-and-trade made possible by last season's Jason Kidd swap (an utter rampage by the Nets). Do these players make the Nets great? No. But they give the team much-needed depth. And while the Nets have lost a star in Jefferson, they have had a very productive offseason to make up for it. They may not be title-ready, but they will at least contend for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. The acquisition of Dooling likely means the end of the road for Marcus Williams. The defensively challenged point guard still has trade value, and will most likely be dealt to make room for Dooling on the roster.
Meanwhile, Nenad Krstic has been qualified but not signed. His position is already overcrowded as it is, so he could be gone as well.
The Nets also have some useless contracts on the team—including Maurice Ager, Trenton Hassell, and my boy Stro Swift—so some of them could be moved as well. Perhaps one or more of these players could be included in a deal for Andres Nocioni of the Bulls, whom I dislike, but whose name has been rumored in dealings with New Jersey.
The Nets also have the expiring waste of a contract named Keith Van Horn, which for some reason actually has some trade value. The Nets' offseason has been productive thus far, and it is not over yet. They could be solid this year, and at the same time are building for the future.
They have a very young squad, and they are poised to make a huge splash in two years—when the youngsters are ready to hit their strides, and arguably the best player in the NBA will join the team.