Sunday, June 08, 2008

NBA Offseason Preview - New Jersey Nets

New Jersey Nets
Record: 34-48
2008-2009 Payroll (Source: $51.8M

Draft Picks: #10, #21, #40

Another season ends and the Nets needs remain the same. Sure, Josh Boone quietly put together a strong campaign (8.2 ppg and 7.3 rpg in 2007-08 from 4.2 ppg and 2.9 rpg in 2006-07). Nevertheless, New Jersey remains set at the point guard position for the foreseeable and still have Vince Carter at the 2 and Richard Jefferson at the 3. Though both of are declining, few NBA teams have more talent on the wings. In spite of Sean Williams’s defensive presence at times this season, he lacks offensive upside.

Burning Questions: Jason Kidd has been traded. Carter and Jefferson are on the decline and the latter has had a recent brush with the law. Will they trade either of these stars? Will anyone take Jefferson for anything short of a salary dump of expiring contracts?

Perceived Needs: Frontcourt scoring, wing depth

If I Were GM … I would desperately find a suitor for Vince Carter and continue to get young. If it means trading out of the lottery to offload his salary ($48.8 over the next three seasons with a team option of $18M in 2011-12 which can be bought out for $5M), I would in a heartbeat. Why? If you are a young player and your team’s best veteran has admitted quitting on a team in order to get out of town, just imagine his leadership skills.

If I cannot find a suitor, I would go after a proven interior scoring threat, knowing that I would sacrifice some defense for steady offense. If that is too much of a reach, the best player available who is not a point guard would do. Therefore, the Nets may be poised to select anyone not named DJ Augustin or Ty Lawson with the 10th and 21st picks. With the #40 pick, the Nets are in position to take the best player available.


bobbo said...

Richard Jefferson played in all 82 games and averaged a career high 22.6 ppg. He is 27 years old and yet he is in decline?

Vince Carter averaged 22, 6 and 5 in spite of a season long ankle injury that was so severe that the off-season surgery he needed requires him to stay off the court from April to August.

Carter's option in 2011-12 is not as you suggest. Of the $18 million he signed for, $5 million must be paid.

Is this the best you can do?

Paymon said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I had no idea about the void for Carter's option - I have edited the article. It does not change my mind about the team option not being a desirable one. On your other points ...

1) Neither plays a lick of defense

2) RJ may have averaged a career high in points, but he was considerably less efficient in comparison with his last full season (averaging 19.5 ppg with 12.9 shots per game versus this year when he averaged 22.7 ppg with 16.2 shot per game). Additionally, his rebounds are down by more than 2 per game and his assists are down too).

3) As for VC, I understand that he battled injury. I also know that it's reduced the number of drives he takes to the basket (he takes 1.5 less FTs per game). More than anything, I don't doubt Carter's basketball skills. It's his leadership. With Kidd out of the picture, he's thrusted into a leadership role. Frankly, I haven't forgotten about what went down in Toronto.