LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony. What do these five top players have in common?
They were all targets in the past year by the New Jersey Nets and they struck out—on all of them.
Having recently lost Anthony to the across-the-Hudson rival New York Knicks, the New Jersey Nets pulled off a blockbuster trade for Utah Jazz Point Guard Deron Williams. Williams is arguably the best point guard in the NBA.
In the 2010-11 season, he is averaging 21.3 PPG and 9.7 APG. However, after an ugly exit by Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, Williams was traded to the Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and first round draft picks.
This looks like a great trade on paper, but the Nets can't sign D-Will to an extension until July and he becomes a free agent in the Summer of 2012.
So what exactly are the Nets trying to do taking the risk with Williams? They just watched their arch rival swipe their midseason prize from them and are heading towards serious contention.
Meanwhile, the Nets are 17-40, coming off a 12-70 campaign just a year ago. They're possibly moving to Brooklyn by 2012.
Obviously, they are trying to gain an identity in the New York Metropolitan Area, as the Knicks run this town.
The Nets have had pretty much only one period of time where they were the more successful team and that was the Jason Kidd era. Williams reportedly said before the 'Melo trade that he was thinking about joining Stoudemire in New York.
Well, he's now in the market and could be playing in the city in a year and a half.
How exactly can they get Deron Williams to stay and build around him when they make the move to Brooklyn? He's not Jason Kidd, so he probably isn't taking this team to the Finals like Kidd once (actually, twice). They need to attract another star. They have one now.
Assuming that they will extend Williams, the two biggest stars that will be free agents in 2012 are New Orleans Hornets Point Guard Chris Paul and Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard. Obviously, Chris Paul is out of the picture if you keep Deron, so Howard is definitely a player that they will definitely go after, as a D12-D-Will combo could be deadly.
Why would Howard leave Orlando? He's likely never winning there, especially with these other superstars teaming up in Miami and New York, and the Magic is trying its hardest to get him to stay, such as the mega deal in December to get Gilbert Arenas among others.
However, there are some factors that could prevent a Howard-Williams duo in Brooklyn. The uncertainty of the new collective bargaining agreement could lead to a smaller salary cap. Also, there has been discussions of a franchise tag in the NBA, which could prevent players like Anthony, James, Stoudemire and Bosh from leaving their small-market clubs.
Also, their young center, Brook Lopez, will become a restricted free agent in 2012 and will likely get a solid contract, despite his astounding 5.7 RPG for a 7'0''.
Nevertheless, the Nets could possibly build a team that could be just under the likes of Boston, Miami, Chicago and New York. If Williams and Lopez stay, and Dwight Howard comes, then imagine a lineup of this, if Lopez could convert to PF:
PG- Deron Williams
PF- Brook Lopez
C- Dwight Howard
Okay, the Nets would have holes to fill at small forward and shooting guard. They will need people that can score and shoot, needless to say.
These holes could be filled and this could become a potential top team in the East in a few years once they make the move to Brooklyn. But what if the Knicks also got Chris Paul?
Compare their lineup to theirs:
PG- Chris Paul
SG- Landry Fields
SF- Carmelo Anthony
PF- Amar'e Stoudemire
The Nets would possess a significant advantage at the five, as Howard is probably the best and most impactful defensive player in the NBA. The point guard position is an absolute push, these two are arguably the best at the position.
Stoudemire is a better player than Lopez, but Lopez has not yet fully developed yet and he is already a solid defensive, despite weak rebounding numbers, and offensive player.
The New York Knicks versus the Brooklyn Nets, or whatever this team will be called in 2012.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov managed to drive up the price for 'Melo for the Knicks and acquired Williams for basically nothing in an attempt to make a statement.
Imagine an actual rivalry containing five superstars in this city.
Basketball would truly be revived in this town.