That doesn't mean that they should completely give up on Howard, though. According to Fred Kerber of the New York Post, Howard is still in their sights and on a wish list, but it doesn't go beyond that. More importantly, the Nets are building talent around their current star, Deron Williams.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News quotes Williams as saying that he will be unhappy if the team loses.
You don’t think I’ve thought about that? (losing)...I don’t know. You guys reporters are not going to like me, I know that. I get grumpy when I lose.
Fortunately for Williams and the reporters that cover the Nets, New Jersey is taking steps to ensure that doesn't happen.
It starts with Kris Humphries. More than being a reality television star, Humphries is a solid player that will make a big impact. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York reported that Humphries has been brought back to the Nets.
In another report, Kerber said that the Nets were close to signing DeShawn Stevenson and also pursuing Andrei Kirilenko, although Kerber acknowledged that those reports have been denied by Kirilenko's agent.
But an interesting point is made by Kerber. If Humphries, Kirilenko and Stevenson could be brought in with one-year deals, it's a brilliant strategy.
Going back to Howard for a bit, one-year deals aren't hard to trade. Teams love acquiring expiring, big contracts. If Howard becomes available, the Nets have trade bait for him.
But let's say that the Nets never get their hands on Howard. If they don't make a move in the next few days, they're going to have to play games without him.
Look at the numbers of these players.
|DeShawn Stevenson (Age 30)||PPG||APG||SPG|
|Andrei Kirilenko (Age 30)||PPG||APG||RPG||BPG||SPG|
|Kris Humprhies (Age 26)||PPG||RPG||BPG|
Stevenson's numbers look the worst of that group, but he's been primarily a sixth-man type of player who defends well. His value won't show in a stat line.
Kirilenko still brings a lot of versatility to the game. Any team that signs him is smart to do so. Kris Humphries logged a double-double average the first year in his career that he averaged more than 25 minutes a game.
Consider that, and now consider the talent that already exists on the Nets' roster. The main strengths are Williams and Brook Lopez. Throw in Humphries, along with Kirilenko or Stevenson (or both), and you have a team that's got more depth than most in the league.
In a season that will feature compacted games, depth will be important. The Nets have that, and a lot of talent.
It's understandable that they are still stuck on Howard, but the team has plenty of potential to build around whether or not Howard ever steps in.
They are making the right moves in looking to build a team without Howard that wouldn't eliminate the possibility of bringing him in.
It's a brilliant strategy.