Off-Season Grade: D+
After shooting an airball in their attempt to land one of the marquee free agents, the Nets wasted away their cap space by overpaying for average talent. Maybe it was a panic move, but how else do you explain giving a combined $57 million to Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro?
New Jersey did swing a couple deals that should provide immediate help. Turning Courtney Lee into Troy Murphy was a no-brainer especially since Murphy can be used as a trade piece around the deadline since he is in the final year of his contract. The Nets also acquired offensive-minded Anthony Morrow for pretty much nothing.
Draft Day was a success for the Nets as they selected Derrick Favors who is loaded with potential, and Damion James who brings some physicality to the floor and should be able to contribute right away. I still just cannot get past the free agent signings which is why New Jersey gets such a low grade. Now if they would have been able to pull the trigger on a Carmelo Anthony trade...
Coming off a franchise-low 12-win season, there is nowhere to look but up for the Nets. The biggest improvement comes in the frontcourt where future All-Star Brook Lopez will now be flanked by Murphy whose ability to stretch defenses with his three-point shooting should only help Lopez inside. Favors is still raw and will need time to develop, but his size and athleticism alone should earn him plenty of opportunities for learning on the fly.
Injuries forced Devin Harris to miss 18 games last season and as a result, he took a step back after a breakout 2008-09 season. His name popped up in several trade rumors this offseason and the Nets are probably hoping that lights a fire underneath him this year. Wing play will be a concern as Terrence Williams, Morrow, Outlaw and James should all figure into the rotation but certainly won't scare the opposition.
This will be a new challenge for first-year head coach Avery Johnson. He inherited a very talented team in Dallas, but faces the difficult task of taking over a re-building franchise which he has never done before. New owner Mikhail Prokhorov promised an NBA title within the next five years, but after a disappointing offseason that guarantee seems awfully farfetched.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
Carmelo Anthony's name will be linked to the Nets all season long until a deal is done. If somehow Anthony enters free agency next summer, New Jersey will have a shot at landing him. If Anthony ends up elsewhere, the Nets will still have some money to spend in free agency but will once again have the chore of trying to convince a top-tier free agent to join a franchise that is still a couple of years away from being a true contender. If New Jersey is fortunate enough to land Anthony during the season, the focus then switches to trying to bring in complementary talent and makes the task much easier.