2011-12 Record: 22-45, last place in Atlantic Division
2012 NBA Draft: G Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas, 41st overall pick/acquired from Portland), F Tornike Shenglia (Georgia, 54th overall pick/acquired from Dallas via Philadelphia), F Ilkan Karaman (Turkey, 57th overall pick)
Offseason Additions: G Joe Johnson (acquired from Atlanta), G C.J Watson (2 years, $2.13 million), G Jerry Stackhouse (1 year, $1.35 million), G Keith Bogans (1 year, $1.35 million), F Mirza Teletovic (3 years, $9.6 million), F Reggie Evans (sign-and-trade with Los Angeles Clippers, 3 years, $5 million)
Offseason Losses: G Jordan Farmar (traded to Atlanta Hawks), G DeShawn Stevenson (sign-and-trade with Atlanta Hawks), G Anthony Morrow (traded to Atlanta Hawks), G Gerald Green (signed with Indiana Pacers), F Jordan Williams (traded to Atlanta Hawks), C Johan Petro (traded to Atlanta Hawks)
Resigned: G Deron Williams (5 years, $98 million), F Gerald Wallace (4 years, $40 million), F Kris Humphries (2 years, $24 million), C Brook Lopez (4 years, $61 million)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Deron Williams, SG Joe Johnson, SF Gerald Wallace, PF Kris Humphries, C Brook Lopez
OFFSEASON GRADE: A -
Going into these past summer months, the number #1 task on the Brooklyn Nets to-do list was to resign all-star point guard Deron Williams to a new deal. With the Dallas Mavericks lurking in the shadows trying to secure his services, the Nets desperately needed to retain their franchise player, or risk bringing the team over to a new city without a certified star.
Fortunately in the end, everything panned out for Brooklyn. Williams agreed to a 5 year, $98 million dollar extension that would keep him with the team for the long-term.
The Nets had their star. Butts would be in seats come opening night. Going to a new city and playing in a new arena is nice, but without that big name to draw in the crowds, it could have been all for nothing.
Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and GM Billy King didn’t stop there though…
Trading basically the entire roster for Atlanta Hawks all-star Joe Johnson was a risky move, but it’s a move that is sure to pay major dividends for this Nets team this season and beyond. His scoring numbers have dropped from 25.0 to 18.2 points per game over the past 6 seasons, but that shouldn’t sway fans from loving this pickup. It will however put more pressure on Joe to perform, not only because he will now be playing under the bright lights of Brooklyn New York, but also because the Nets will have to pay the remaining $89 million of his monstrous $124 million dollar contract. Still, pairing Deron Williams up with 6x all-star in Johnson clearly played a huge role in his decision to resign with the team.
Money wasn’t a problem for Prokhorov this offseason, as the Nets committed over $300 million dollars in new salaries in just under a month. Gerald Wallace signed a 4-year, $40 million dollar extension to stay with Brooklyn and center Brook Lopez (who played a grand total of 5 games this past season) signed a 4-year, $61 million dollar contract as well.
Were they both overpaid? It’s debatable. Wallace’s production has declined in recent memory and Lopez’s ankle injury can always turn into a lingering issue down the road. Regardless of that, Prokhorov has shown a willingness to pay his players and keep them happy financially. He has deep enough pockets so that contracts such as these will never be a problem.
The one glaring negative this offseason was the Nets failed attempt in trading for Dwight Howard. Considering Howard’s openness in his desire to play for the Nets, it seemed inevitable that he would find himself donning the black and white for Brooklyn this upcoming season. The team was $40 million dollars under the cap going into free agency and had enough pieces (Lopez, Marshon Brooks, draft picks) to make a deal happen. Unfortunately, a trade never panned out and Dwight now finds himself in Hollywood playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Trading for Joe Johnson and keeping Wallace and Lopez in house are solid moves that lift this team from bottom-feeder to a legitimate playoff contender, but grabbing Dwight Howard could have very well put Brooklyn in the championship picture in 2012-13.
Even though the Nets couldn’t get their “Superman”, it’s still hard to hate on what this franchise has accomplished this summer. The goal of any losing team (especially as bad as the 22-45 Nets) should always be to make the right signings in free-agency, smart draft picks and well thought out trades in order to lift the team out of the shadows of obscurity.
The Brooklyn Nets have done just that. Not only did the Nets grab a second all-star in Johnson, convince superstar Deron Williams to remain with the team and agree to new deals with glue guys Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez, but they also made some unheralded, under the radar type moves in bringing over players like C.J Watson, all-around tough guy Reggie Evans and Bosnian prospect Mirza Teletovic. They also managed to agree to terms with double-double machine Kris Humphries as well.
This Nets team could realistically find themselves hovering around the 4th-6th seeds in the Eastern Conference this year, which would be a huge improvement over their 12th place finish in 2012.
To make such a dramatic leap in such a short period of time warrants at least an A – for this Brooklyn Nets franchise.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports