Carmelo Anthony Trade Rumors: 10 Moves the New Jersey Nets Should Make Next
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In case you haven't heard by now, the New Jersey Nets have officially taken themselves out of the running for Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony's services.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov held a press conference last Wednesday, saying the negotiations were taking too long, all the talk was having a negative effect of the team and the deal was becoming too expensive. For those reasons, he ordered New Jersey's management team to step away and look in a different direction.
There has been some speculation this was a clever negotiating ploy that gave the Nets the upper hand, but for right now, all we know is New Jersey is not looking to trade for Anthony anymore.
The Nets now have a plethora of options to choose from to build their roster. They have the money to sign anyone they want and have enough draft picks over the next two years to make every other team in the league envious.
At 12-32, the Nets obviously aren't going to win a championship this year, and it will be at least a few years before they are really contending for one.
For the immediate future, though, there are a number of moves they can make, and not make, that will allow them to be more competitive for the remainder of this season and going into the next.
Here are 10 of them.
10. Move Troy Murphy
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Troy Murphy's career with the Nets got off to a rough start.
Murphy was injured in training camp, missed all of the preseason and was unable to play in the team's first three regular season games.
When he made his return to action in early November, he was never able to establish a role on the team. He started out averaging 20-plus minutes in his first four games before sitting on the bench and not seeing the floor at all for the rest of the month.
Since then, he has been used sporadically and even more recently was made inactive by the team. He does not travel with the squad and has not been in attendance for home games.
According to the latest reports, Murphy and Nets general manager Billy King have agreed to pursue a trade.
Murphy's expiring contract is what makes him valuable, and some contender in need of frontcourt scoring help should be willing to make a deal by the trading deadline.
King has stated he has no intention of buying out Murphy's contract, so a trade is the only option available. It's not clear what they could get in return as it will depend on which teams are interested, but the Nets should be able to get some kind of value for the veteran power forward.
They just need to make sure they accept the best offer.
9. Get Stephen Graham Out of the Starting Lineup
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The Nets had no intention of using Stephen Graham as a starter when they signed him in the offseason. Anthony Morrow's hamstring injury that sidelined him for 17 games forced their hand, however, and Graham has been starting ever since.
To put it nicely, Graham has stunk, averaging just under four PPG and shooting 40 percent for the season.
When Sasha Vujacic joined the team, it appeared he could be the solution at the shooting guard position until Morrow was ready to return, but the Nets understandably wanted him coming off the bench where he could provide a spark for the second unit.
Morrow is now back and is currently in the process of getting his legs under him and finding his stroke. Once he's able to play enough minutes, he needs be injected into the starting five immediately.
His presence on the outside opens up the floor for Devin Harris to drive and Brook Lopez to operate underneath.
The Nets are simply a better team when a healthy Morrow is out there, and Graham is seeing limited action off the bench.
8. See If They Can Find a Way To Unload Travis Outlaw
A candidate for worst contract offer of the summer, Outlaw signed with the Nets for five years and $35 million.
Outlaw has repaid them by scoring just 10 PPG and shooting below 40 percent. He can be an effective player off the bench, but the starter money does not serve him well.
Outlaw lost his starting job to rookie Damion James earlier in the year before James went down with a broken foot. Maybe as the Nets improve the overall talent on the team in the coming years Outlaw can be valuable to them in the backup role. They would be better off trying to find a team that would be willing to trade them something for him, though.
Anything would do, really.
7. Do the Same with Johan Petro
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Another not so great contract, Petro signed with the Nets this summer for $10 million over three years to be a black hole.
Petro can't touch the ball without putting up a shot, and he is insistent upon standing 17 feet from the basket when he does so. He's also a poor rebounder for a center, which is saying something considering Brook Lopez's rebounding woes this season.
Moving Petro would leave the Nets without a true backup center, so they might have to try to get one back in return somehow. They could also try to make due for the rest of this year by using some combination of playing small and having Kris Humphries and Derrick Favors hold the fort down low when Lopez needs a breather.
They could then make an offer to Samuel Dalembert over the summer—a guy who is currently coming off the bench for Sacramento. Dalembert doesn't offer much offensively, but he would bolster the defense of the second unit.
No matter what, New Jersey should try to get Petro off their roster any way they can and then figure it out from there.
6. Get Mikhail Prokhorov To Attend More Games
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When the Nets new owner decides to watch his team play from his box at the Prudential Center, the Nets are 5-2. They are 4-9 otherwise.
Whatever the reason is, they seem to play better when he's there. Their awful 3-21 road record might even be improved if the Russian went Mark Cuban style and traveled with the team.
Prokhorov is said to get along very well with the players, and maybe his cool nature just puts them at ease. Or maybe they just want to make a good impression on their boss when he's in the building. Or maybe there's no explanation for it and the bottom line is that he needs to simply spend more time around his team.
They only have 12 wins! They've gotta try something!
5. Re-Sign Kris Humphries
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Over the summer, the Nets were hoping Humphries would not exercise his player option and stay with the team. The six-year pro did, however, and now New Jersey is now glad to have him as he's been one of the better players on the team.
Humphries reinvented himself as a player over the offseason and is currently averaging 9.4 RPG and has 13 double-doubles. He's also shooting a career-high 54 percent from the field.
Players need to be rewarded for going all out for a team. Humphries has played hard regardless of whether he is starting or coming off the bench.
The future at power forward may be Derrick Favors, but Humphries should be in the plans as well. If Favors ends up not panning out, the Nets would still have a fine player at the four.
4. Draft Chris Singleton
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Playing for Florida State, Singleton is probably the best defensive player in all of college basketball. His offensive game needs some work, but the fact he's willing to mold himself as a stopper and team-first guy at the amateur level indicates he'd be willing to do the same once he went pro.
While he's listed as a small forward, Singleton is capable of guarding not only guys at his position, but also those at shooting guard and power forward.
Depending on what happens with Travis Outlaw, what positions get filled over the summer and what the team wants to do with Anthony Morrow (have him start or provide offense off the bench next season), Singleton could start at the two or three and be thrown on the opposing team's best perimeter player.
Having someone like that on your roster is invaluable. Coach Avery Johnson would also love the guy for his work ethic and defensive intensity.
3. Don't Sell the Farm for Guys Like O.J. Mayo and Danny Granger
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If the Nets think Mayo or Granger would make their team better and would like to trade for them, that's fine. They are both young, talented players.
If they do go that route, though, they need to make sure they don't give up too much to bring them in. That means not giving up Derrick Favors in exchange.
Although his numbers won't blow anyone away right now, Favors has enough potential that the Nets need to be patient in allowing him to develop.
Mayo is supposed to be a good shooter, although his numbers this season don't suggest that. He's hitting shots at a 41 percent clip and has seen a serious reduction in minutes. He might not be as good as many think he is, and the Nets already have a knockdown shooter in Anthony Morrow.
Besides, if they really want him, he'll be a free agent after next season, and if he continues to play like he has this year, he could be had for a not too steep price.
It doesn't seem all that likely that Granger will be moved, but there has been some recent speculation that Indiana would be willing to part with him for the right price. The price is not right when we're talking about Favors being involved.
Granger can score, there's no doubt about that, but his shooting percentage has dipped in recent years, and he's starting to look injury-prone. If the Nets are willing to take the gamble that he'll stay healthy playing for them, they should find a way to get him without losing Favors.
If they can't—or don't want to—get their hands on Granger, there are still alternatives.
2. Find Efficient Scorers in the Draft or Free Agency
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This could be in addition to or instead of taking Chris Singleton, as the number of first-round picks the Nets have next season will depend on where the Los Angeles Lakers end up.
Granted, the Lakers would need to be drafting in the Top 18 for them to keep their pick, so it's highly likely the Nets will have L.A.'s first-round pick in 2011. They'll also have their own, which seems destined to be a lottery selection.
You never really know where a guy is going to go, and Singleton is listed by some as a top-15 guy and by others as a late first-rounder. We won't really know until draft day.
New Jersey has a glaring hole at small forward, where they could use the presence of a player like Arizona's Derrick Williams—someone who can score while hitting shots at a high rate.
Williams is averaging 19.7 PPG for he Wildcats. He's doing this while shooting 62 percent from the field and 70 percent on three pointers. He's averaging over two points-per-shot and is also pulling down eight RPG.
The guy is a baller, and his improvement from last season to this one speaks of a pro-level work ethic.
If they decide to go in a different direction or use their picks to trade up and get a lock stud, they could also target free agents like Wilson Chandler or Arron Afflalo.
Both can score and hit a high percentage of their shots. Chandler is averaging 17 PPG while shooting at 47 percent, and Afflalo is connecting on 52 percent of his attempts and scoring 13 PPG while shooting 43 percent on threes.
Chandler (23) and Afflalo (25) are also young and will only get better.
1. Most Importanly, Stay the Course and Be Patient
Above all else, the Nets need to be patient. They can't panic and settle for bad trades that will cripple them in the future, like the one that would have netted them Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton.
They simply would have been giving up too much in return for one All-Star and two players well past their primes. They need to keep the roster young and allow their players to grow with each other.
They have two cornerstones in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. Harris is just entering his prime, and Lopez is only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
The Nets are certainly in position to build around these two players, and they have several other pieces in place.
As long as the Nets use their money and draft picks wisely, they should be a contender before too long. The nine other moves listed here would have them getting there sooner rather than later.