With news coming out recently that New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has told his management team to give up in the pursuit of superstar Carmelo Anthony, the team on the court can go back to simply playing basketball.
They no longer have to listen to the incessant rumors and repeatedly false reports that a trade is imminent.
Now that the organization is moving in a different direction, we're left to ponder just what direction that is.
Will the team make any other moves, or are they content to build through the draft and take a run at some notable free agents this summer?
Getting Anthony would have made the team immediately relevant, but the quick fix is not always the best one, and Prokhorov has realized it wasn't worth the draining effect all the innuendo had on the team.
Anthony didn't appear overly thrilled about the prospect of playing for the Nets either, so this was the best move for all involved.
It will now take more time for the team to get back to its winning ways, but the results could be longer-lasting if everything falls into place.
Here are 10 reasons the Nets still have a bright future, despite saying goodbye to Carmelo Anthony.
Yes, I'm saying that an 11-31 team isn't really all that bad. I'm not saying they're great, or even all that good, but they're better than this.
They've had single-digit losses to Orlando, Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers (twice), Chicago and Portland. Some of their double-digit losses to teams such as Utah and Dallas were also close until the final minutes as well.
The Nets eventually avenged their losses to the Bulls and Jazz, and they have also beaten Atlanta twice and the Blazers once.
Simply put, they aren't 11-31 awful. They've fallen into the trap of playing to the level of their opponents, and many of their defeats came from a lack of fourth-quarter execution that comes with a young team.
That actually leads right into the next point:
The Nets currently have a losing culture. True, they aren't that far removed from consecutive Finals appearances, but none of those players are on the team anymore, and they haven't reached the playoffs since the 2006-07 season.
They're also coming off a historically bad 12-70 year. It's tough to shake all that.
New Jersey is in the process of learning how to win games. They've brought in guys like Jordan Farmar and Susha Vujacic who, although they may not be MVP-level players, understand what it takes to win.
Devin Harris also made it to the Finals very early in his career, and he must be getting sick of losing.
As the saying goes, by practicing the habits of success, success becomes a habit.
This is what the Nets are doing right now. They practice hard, in general are a tough out and are getting better. Once they figure out how exactly you win games in the NBA, the victories will come rapidly.
In his time with the Dallas Mavericks, Johnson became the fastest head coach to 100 wins and held a winning percentage over .700.
Although his win rate has gone down since taking over with New Jersey, he still wound up being the second-fastest coach to reach 200 wins.
Johnson won a title as a player and brought the Mavs to the brink of one as a coach.
He became somewhat known for postseason flame-outs just before his run in Dallas ended, but given the Mavericks track record in the playoffs since he was canned, it's safe to say that wasn't all on Avery.
He has the Nets playing hard and competing most nights. Once he gets some better players and the team figures out what it's doing on the court, he'll take to being the fastest coach to 300 W's.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov has more money than he knows what to do with. The Nets also have more room under the cap than most teams.
While salary limits should be stricter once the new collective bargaining agreement is announced, it's still likely to leave the Nets with a lot of flexibility. Teams are also permitted to go over the cap, so long as they're willing to pay a tax.
With all the money at its disposal, New Jersey should be able to attract free agents this summer. What's better, most of the guys they go after won't come with the same price tag as Melo, meaning they could get more valuable, less expensive players.
Andrei Kirilenko has already been mentioned as someone on New Jersey's radar, and his friendship with Prokhorov increases their chances of landing him.
There are also several other non-max-contract players available in the coming years.
Kris Humphries, Anthony Morrow, Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar all have great value as role players.
Humphries is a rebounding machine who is getting more efficient on offense; Morrow can shoot threes with the best of them; Vujacic can fill up the basket very quickly; and Farmar is a suitable backup for Devin Harris, who has already shown a knack for hitting big shots this season.
This actually puts the Nets in a very good position.
Since they already have their role players settled out and have cornerstones in Harris and Brook Lopez, they need only to set their sights on acquiring players who will fit specific needs, and they have a multitude of options to get this done.
Even Travis Outlaw, who has been bad as a starter, could be a very solid bench player. As the Nets improve the overall talent level of their starting five, others on the team will be put in better positions to contribute.
As mentioned earlier, Prokhorov has money to spend. Now that's all good, but he needs to spend it wisely to construct a winning team.
Prokhorov knows how to do this.
First off, you don't become a billionaire unless you're able to make sound, rational decisions. He is smart and is a good leader—necessary traits to get to where he's gotten.
Second, Prokhorov already knows how to put together a championship squad.
When he was in charge of CSKA Moscow in Russia, Prokhorov's teams won two Euroleague championships and were in the final four in seven consecutive seasons.
That's called getting it done.
Calm and patient, Prokhorov has stated on several occasions that he has a five-year plan in place. He's also said that he always has a Plan B and Plan C to fall back on.
It appears Plan A—getting Carmelo Anthony—has fallen to the wayside, so it's up to his other schemes to do the work.
Based on what he's shown in the past, they will.
Even though Derrick Favors' overall numbers are nothing astounding, he is oozing with potential.
He was one of the most mentioned names in all the trade rumors, and in his first game after the Nets walked away from negotiations, Favors had his best performance of the season.
Adjusting to the NBA is hard enough. When you're trying to do that while constantly fielding questions about being dealt it becomes even more difficult.
Favors can now focus on becoming a better basketball player, and he's shown flashes of becoming a force in this league.
The Nets also have a rookie by the name of Damion James who plays hard, is tough and whose talent was good enough to get him in the starting lineup before going down with a broken foot.
Don't forget that Brook Lopez is in just his third year as well.
Not too long from now, we could be looking at the Nets as the new Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harris is the leader of this team. Everyone respects him and he already has a great relationship with Avery Johnson.
Trading Harris was never a good idea. Now that the front office has gotten a hold of itself, that won't be happening.
He may not be an elite point guard, but Harris is just a notch below that level. He's making plays with a sub-par supporting cast and is an excellent defender.
He can continue to be a building block for the team as he enters his prime.
Rightfully so, Lopez has taken a lot of slack for his lack of rebounding this year. There are factors that go into this, but I'm not here to make excuses.
He needs to get better at it.
The good news is that Lopez is said to be an extremely coachable player. He has no problem listening to Avery Johnson's criticisms and is a tireless worker.
He's also spoken of his desire to turn this thing around. He has not yet missed a game in his young career, and is getting more aggressive on offense.
What more could you ask for in a young player?
Lopez is the goods and is on his way up in the NBA. He's the definition of a franchise player.
With five first-round draft picks in the next two years, the Nets have several avenues available to them to bring in talented players.
They can still work out other trades using those picks, or they can take the patient draft route. The trick then would be selecting the right players.
As long as they can do that, though, they'll be in terrific shape. They'll have a young team that will grow together and, when it comes time to push for a championship, will trust each other having been through all the wars already.
Things will be just fine for the New Jersey Nets.