Monday, July 21, 2008

NBA Free Agency 2008 - New Jersey Nets' Quest to Have 22 Players Under Contract

It may only be the end of July, but the New Jersey Nets have made one thing clear during this off-season: their goal is to have enough cap-space in 2010 to go after LeBron James. This part of the New Jersey Nets' plan has been widely reported, and overly analyzed and speculated on.

The more confusing thing? What in the world is the Nets' goal for 2008 (aside from making sure that no one is under contract for 2010?)

At this point, they've dumped Richard Jefferson in exchange for Bobby Simmons' rotting contract and a Chinese attraction in Yi Jianlin. The Nets also lost Diop and Bostjan Nachbar (to Russia). However, the Nets have now added:

Draft picks:
Brook Lopez (No. 10), Ryan Anderson (No. 21), Chris Douglas-Roberts (No. 40)
Jarvis Hayes (Detroit), Eduardo Najera (Denver)
Bobby Simmons (Milwaukee), Yi Jianlian (Milwaukee), Keyon Dooling (Orlando).

This means the Nets now have 16 players under contract, with their Keyon Dooling addition! Plus, Nenad Kristic is a restricted free agent. Now, with all these additions, I think the Nets' 5th best player may be as good as their 12th best player. Problem is, their 5th best player is probably the 8th best player on most teams. For posterity sake, I'll try to come up with some hockey lines to guide their coach next season, assuming Kristic gets signed:

PF1 S. Williams..PF2 E. Najera.....PF3 S. Swift
SF1 Y. Jianlin.....SF2 B. Simmons..SF3 M. Ager
C1 N. Kristic.......C2 B. Lopez.........C3 J. Boone
SG1 V. Carter....SG2 J. Hayes........SG3 T. Hassell
PG1 D. Harris....PG2 K. Dooling.....PG3 M. Williams

NBDL: Chris Douglas-Roberts, Ryan Anderson (though it's more likely Ager gets waived, and Hassell doesn't ever play).

With all these players, I think the Nets' only goal for 2008 is to become a college all-star season for the next 2 seasons. I suppose the Nets are planning to move at least one more player before the season begins, unless they really are planning on stashing 2 players in the D-League (which may not be a bad strategy, though it may be depressing and a big gut check for whomever gets that fate). Personally, I'm rooting for the Nets to somehow have 22 players under contract in 2008, so they can then have enough players to have a sizable bench so they can compete in soccer, hockey, and football.

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