After a long wait, Mikhail Prokhorov and the New Jersey Nets finally have a player to build around.
In the wake of the Carmelo Anthony deal, the Nets have acquired two time all-star Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Devin Harris and last year's third overall pick Derrick Favors.
The Nets then sent a second round pick, Troy Murphy and his $12 million dollar expiring contract to the Warriors for Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric's $7.5 million dollar expiring deal.
Wright, just 23 years old, was the eighth overall pick in 2007 out of North Carolina. Clearly he didn't mesh with Don Nelson's up-tempo system in Golden State, but the Nets must see something they like if they're willing to surrender a draft pick and $5.5 million dollars worth of cap space.
Even still, the Nets have around $18 million coming off the books this summer, and nine draft picks over the next three years.
With these assets, they can begin to look at adding parts to their roster to solidify a contending team around Derron Williams and Brook Lopez.
What follows is a list of 10 players the Nets should target either via trade or in free agency this coming summer.
Big Baby will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
With Kevin Garnett still looking like he can play for a few more years, it might be time for the improving Davis to seek a starting gig elsewhere.
In his fourth year, it is clear that Big Baby has made strides in his game. His jumper is improving. He also plays with a lot of energy, isn't afraid to drive the ball to the hoop and his low post moves are expanding.
Baby plays tenaciously on the defensive end. Kevin Garnett has gotten into the kid's head and Davis has learned to play disciplined man to man defense.
With a guaranteed starting spot, Glen Davis would be a welcome addition to the Nets rotation. He is one of the more unique big-men in the NBA and, because his minutes and numbers are relatively low, he could be had for a discount.
I'm going to assume that Davis will stay in Boston, where he is beloved, an eventually succeed Kevin Garnett when he retires.
If Glen is looking for more playing time right now, however, then New Jersey might make for a nice fit.
The Nets lack a dynamic scorer. Stephen Curry is the future in Golden State, which makes Monta Ellis expendable.
The package would be hefty, perhaps a ton of picks, but let's suppose the Nets could get it done.
Ellis is a combo-guard. He primarily plays shooting guard for the Warriors but he switches into the point-role when Curry is taking a breather.
He is well versed in both positions and could make for a terrorizing combo with Deron Williams.
Little pick and rolls between them. Three man games with Brook Lopez. The Nets offense would be difficult to track down.
Sure, Ellis has nights where he misses too many shots and kills his team, but he's also capable of going for 40 at any time. With Deron Williams handling the ball the majority of the time, he'll find ways to make sure Ellis gets his points.
The NBA is a small forwards league. Other than Kobe Bryant, there are very few explosive shooting guards.
Monta Ellis, however, is in that class and the Nets should seriously consider his employment.
Nothing would stick it to the Knicks more than bringing back Danilo Gallinari to the other side of what will soon be a good local rivalry.
Derron Williams is a slashing guard and Brook Lopez is a monster post presence. Adding a shooter to the team would complement them nicely.
Gallinari is a gifted shooter who can hit from anywhere on the court. He likes driving the lane as well and is great at drawing fouls, which is a plus since he's phenomenal from the line (89.1 percent this year).
His defense can lack at times, and when he's not scoring you can forget that he's even on the floor. But Danilo is still just 22 years old, and this is only his third year in the league.
Remember too that he had an injury laden rookie year and only played in 28 games. Gallinari is still maturing as an athlete and refining his skills.
He'd also absolutely kill to be able to stay in the New York area. Gallinari is from Milan, Italy and he has clearly formed a special bond with the city of New York. He was beloved by the fans and, based on youtube videos, he's enjoyed living in the big apple.
The Nets would likely only have to surrender a few more draft picks to lift him from the Nuggets. Perhaps just one future first rounder.
Gallinari may never be worth the sixth overall pick that the Knicks spent on him, but surely he's worth a future first rounder for a team that will consistently be in the playoff hunt.
If Mikhail Prokhorov is smart, he'll flip a few draft picks to Denver before Danilo can put his apartment on the market.
Just 25-years-old, Marc Gasol still has time to catch up to his brother Pau, who is five years his senior.
Last year, in his second NBA season, Gasol shot 58 percent from the floor and averaged 14.6 points per game with 9.3 rebounds. His stats have dipped this season to just 11.8 points per game with 6.8 rebounds.
For a big man, Marc is a good free throw shooter. After hitting just 67 percent of his attempts last year, he's up to 75 percent this season.
The decrease in his surface stats should lower the dollar amounts that Gasol will see when he hits restricted free agency this summer. This is probably a good thing for teams who want to bet on his potential.
The Grizzles already signed Rudy Gay to a max contract last summer and it's unlikely that they'll want to shell out too much cash to keep their young center.
Deron Williams had some good big men in Utah in Al Jefferson, Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap. But any two out of three combination of those players wouldn't broach the monstrosity of having Robin Lopez and Marc Gasol as his front court.
With Gasol, few teams other than the Celtics would have the size to shut down the Nets on a nightly basis.
Might be worth sending an offer sheet.
Nene will be a free agent this coming off-season and, as the best available center, he will likely get overpaid by some team.
After all, it takes bigs to win in the NBA. Can you name me the last elite point guard to win a title? Probably Isiah Thomas with the "Bad Boy" Pistons in the late 1980's.
With Brook Lopez, the Nets already have one of their trees in place. Nene could be the other.
The 6'11", 250 pound Brazilian has quietly matured over the past three seasons. This season, at 28-years-old, Nene is averaging a career best 15.0 points per game on a career best 63.4 percent shooting from the field.
His free throw percentage is also a career best (76.3 percent) and he averages over two assists per game, solid for a big man.
Nene is an average defender, and he can be too-timid on the offensive end at times. However, once he gets going, the big Brazilian is tough to stop.
Having Deron Williams run the pick and roll with Brook Lopez and Nene would be dizzying to watch.
That's a lot of size moving very fast.
Al Horford, just a restricted free agent, may draw more interest this offseason than any other pending free agent.
The fourth year man out of Florida was the third overall pick back in 2007. He was the highest drafted player from the Florida teams that won back to back national championships.
Horford is also a 6'10", 245 pound specimen that is among the most athletic young big men in the game. He has improved in every season of his NBA career.
In 2010-2011, Horford has averaged 16 points and 9.8 rebounds per game on 56.5 percent shooting. He has also shot 81.6 percent from the charity stripe and added three and a half assists per game.
What's more, Horford is a tremendous defender and he has made two all-star teams for that very reason.
Al Horford is worth a max contract on a restricted free agent offer sheet.
With the Hawks committing a lot of money to Joe Johnson, who knows how much they'll be willing to spend on Horford.
Horford and Lopez would make for a nightmare combo of big men. Al's versatility and defensive ability would be a great fit with this New Jersey team.
We'll see if the Nets try to bait him.
J.R. Smith is among the most explosive scorers in the NBA. He is also one of the league's best dunkers.
With pals Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony gone from Denver, it won't be long before J.R. Smith tests the free agent waters.
With a lot more shots now available for the taking, these last 30 games or so will be crucial for J.R. Smith's financial well-being.
In their first game without Carmelo Anthony, Smith led the Nuggets with 26 points (6 of 11 from 3 point range) eight rebounds, and five assists in 42 minutes of play.
He has averaged around 25 minutes per game for the year.
J.R. Smith has had sporadic production off of the bench. Drafted out of high school, he has always seemed like the type of talent that needs a starting role to succeed.
Smith is still only 25-years-old. He is a well-rounded scoring guard who can beat you inside or out. He possesses the ability to throw down thunderous dunks in traffic as well.
J.R. Smith can be a nice piece for a contending team. Coming off the bench in Denver, there were games where he absolutely scored at will.
It will be interesting to see how much the additional minutes will improve his numbers.
For almost three years, Rodney Stuckey has been carrying a bad Pistons team.
The fourth year guard out of Eastern Washington might be the best player you've never heard of. Right off the bat, he is a terrific man to man defender.
At 6'5", 205-pounds, Stuckey is long and capable of guarding either a point or shooting guard.
A combo Guard himself, Rodney has averaged 16.6 and 15.0 points per game the last two years. But Stuckey probably shoots more often than he should.
Much of that comes from the fact that there aren't any other scorers on the Pistons roster. The rest might just be his natural inclination to shoot the basketball.
Stuckey is a career 41.8 percent shooter from the floor, and he has shot just 25.9 percent from three.
Nevertheless he is a good playmaker and defender who would make for a solid role player on a championship team.
Stuckey's inflated point totals might overvalue his talent and outprice the Nets for his services.
Regardless, the Nets should enquire about the restricted free agent.
Gerald Wallace is among the most underrated players in the NBA.
It's difficult to get recognition, even as the best player on a .500 team, when your primary attributes are defense and rebounding. However, Wallace's presence would present an interesting way of dealing with the Miami Heat.
Surely Mikhail Prokhorov didn't buy the Nets in order to fiddle with mediocrity. He bought an NBA team because he wants to contend.
For the foreseeable future, the Heat and the Knicks hold sway over the rest of the Eastern Conference. By adding Gerald Wallace, the Nets would possess one of the few players with the capability of shutting down both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
The Nets' two biggest strengths would over-match the Heat's two biggest weaknesses, at point guard and center. They would have an advantage at those spots against the Knicks as well.
Wallace has a modest contract, but maybe that's exactly what the Nets need. Their two stars, Williams and Lopez, aren't at the level of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Instead, they must build a deeper, more defensive unit. The core is in place. The addition of Gerald Wallace could bring the proper mentality.
Add another two-way scorer and the Nets can become good, gritty, defensive team that will haunt the playoff hopes of both super teams.
Thaddeus Young is a restricted free agent this summer and is expected to draw a lot of interest from around the league.
The first thing you notice about Thaddeus is his size. Standing 6'8" and weighing 220 pounds, Young has a lean, muscular body and the play-style of Carmelo Anthony.
The 12th overall pick in 2007 out of Georgia Tech has always had potential. Filling expectations has been the problem.
In his fourth year, Thaddeus has for some reason abandoned the three pointer. After hitting the shot in around 35 percent of his attempts the past two years, Young has taken only eighteen treys this season.
He is averaging 12.1 points per game with five rebounds, so his contract offers won't be ludicrous. Young still has immense talent, however.
The NBA is a small forwards league, and Thaddeus Young has all the tools to be dominant at that position.
The 76ers aren't expected to give up on their awesome sixth man just yet. But if Andre Iguodala isn't traded soon, Young will remain on the bench in his current role.
If Thaddeus Young wants to start in the NBA, he should explore all of his options this summer. Going a little north to New Jersey and playing with an all-star point guard might bring out Thad's true potential.