NBA Free Agents 2011: 5 Ways to Keep Deron Williams a New Jersey Net
After the bold move by the New Jersey Nets to acquire the services of point guard extraordinaire Deron Williams, the Nets need to now build around him. If they expect Williams to stay after the 2012 season they might have to twist his arm a bit to improve the 90 percent expectancy rate that he mentioned in re-signing with the Nets.
While Williams wraps up his European tour in Turkey, the Nets better do whatever they can to keep the 20-point, 10-assist guard they presently employ.
Let's take a closer look at some players that can assist in helping the Nets, who were 28th in the league in scoring, keep their prized possession. Since owner and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov made such a bold prediction about a championship in the near future, the league will be watching.
Scoring Punch at the SG/SF Spot
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With his title ring getting ready for presentation, Caron Butler needs to make his mark in a new city, and Brooklyn (where the Nets are relocating next season) might be the right fit for the versatile scorer. The Nets need that second or third scorer on their team to open the floor up a bit for open shots and penetration.
Though injuries slowed down his season to a mere 28 games, Butler, in less than 30 minutes, averaged 15 points while shooting 45 percent from the field and a career high 43 percent from three-point range. He has a solid midrange game and a toughness about him that would bode well with fans.
Dallas and other teams will probably come with quick offers, so it's time for the Nets' owners to start putting together those needed weapons starting at the shooting guard.
A Bigger Scoring Option
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After being drafted and traded away by the Knicks, what a way to show their presence by sticking it to their hometown rivals with the possible signing of Nene Hillario. The 6' 11", 250-pounder is a proven force on the offensive end.
Nene (average: 15 points, eight rebounds, one block and two assists in 2011) does a lot of damage in transition, getting up the floor with ease as he attacks the basket with both hands. He also has the strength to post up and maneuver in the paint. Nene doesn't demand the ball much, but once he does gets it, he can pass it around to others with solid results.
Though he isn't the most accomplished shooter, pairing him up with big Brook Lopez, who does shoot well out to 20 feet, would create a formidable combination that would be tough to handle game by game. On the defensive end, Nene is another strong body that can defend the pick-and-roll and block some shots. In addition, Nene will provide the Nets even more pieces should they continue to be players in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.
From Russia with Love?
After 10 years in Utah, Andrei Kirlenko has to decide on where his loyalties will be. Does he return to the Jazz or explore his other options?
With a fellow Russian as the new owner of the Nets, would it be safe to guess that Kirlenko could possibly join forces with his fellow countryman and become the new small forward for the Nets? It would be an upgrade of sorts if he did join the Nets, and they used the amnesty clause to get rid of Travis Outlaw, who has not performed well since being signed last year.
The 30-year-old forward still has a great skill set that will bring versatility to Brooklyn. Kirlenko's ability to handle the ball and attack the basket would suit well if paired with Williams. His defense at 30 years of age is still solid, as he will provide the Nets with a forward who is an accomplished shot blocker and has the ability to defend both forward positions. His averages of 11.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and three assists would be just what the Nets need to shore up the small forward position.
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With New Jersey trading away plenty to acquire the services of Deron Williams, they surely saw quickly how things can go wrong when Williams injured himself and the Nets struggled at the point guard spot.
Enter T.J Ford, a free agent last seen in Indiana lingering on the Pacers' bench for most of the season. We have here a case of a player sorely needing a change of scenery. After averaging a career low 5.4 points, Ford needs to resurrect his fading career.
He would provide the Nets a with a guard with good speed and can break down defenses off the dribble. While he small, Ford still hits the boards well, and since there won't be a need for him to score, he can focus his attention on distributing the ball.
He has been known to be a bit selfish, but as a seasoned vet, he should be able to tone down his image and become part of a winning team with a positive attitude and solid play from the point guard spot.
Return of the Reality Star?
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Kris Humphries seemed to have quite the busy offseason with his much publicized marriage and divorce to media magnet Kim Kardashian. Now that the show is over, like his marriage is, NBA teams can focus their attention on whether or not this double-double machine is the real McCoy.
Bringing back the high-energy forward would be a plus for their team's depth. Humphries seems to gravitate to rebounds even against taller opponents and has a toughness about his game that allows him to get to the basket. The 26-year-old is in the prime of his career, and you have to wonder if this was a contract year performance.
But at his age it's called progression, and the Nets would not want Humphries to visit them often if he was an opponent elsewhere. He is a strong finisher on the break and will challenge shots on defense. A mid-level contract for four years should get it done.