The New Jersey Nets are facing a complete overhaul that could occur as soon as Monday night.
Why Monday night?
If the Nets pull the trigger on a deal that lands Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton in New Jersey as part of a deal consisting of at least 13 players, it can’t happen sooner than then. With the Nets on a West coast trip concluding Monday afternoon with a Martin Luther King Day matinee against the Golden State Warriors, finishing the deal prior to the Golden State game will leave the Nets with barely enough players to fill a lineup.
All involved will need to undergo physicals which could delay participation several days. General manager Billy King will likely wait until the trip is over to finish his wheelings and dealings.
But will the deal happen? Absolutely.
While Anthony undoubtedly has reservations about playing with the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets, his own management is pushing him that way.
His agents, Leon Rose and William Wesley, want in on Mikhail Prokhorov’s power and influence. While their whispers might sway the Nuggets star, the Nets’ future surely will.
The pieces in place aren’t nearly as enticing as the potential ones down the line. Anthony and Chris Paul have always dreamed of forming their own alliance. With Billups nearing the end of his career, he could hold down the position until Paul becomes a free agent in 2012.
There’s also the possibility that the Nets buy out Billups, who has been outspoken in his distaste for a stop over in Newark. Jordan Farmar could man the starting guard spot, though. The Nets sights are set on the future, not this season.
Rose and Wesley are preaching Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn billboards, and an owner with endless pockets. They’re preaching a rivalry with the Knicks and a team, if not city, Melo can call his own.
Luring Chris Paul is just as crucial. Could it happen? Just ask Paul’s agent…. Leon Rose.
Looking ahead to July 2012, here’s how the Nets dream about their starting lineup:
PG Chris Paul
SG Sasha Vujacic
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Kris Humphries
C Brook Lopez
After Anthony, Paul, and Lopez, the other two spots are destined for role players. Vujacic and Humphries are place-holders at best, but it’s important to remember that with max-contracts eyeing Anthony and Paul (and a hefty sum with Lopez’s name on it), the Nets will be hampered filling out their roster, much in the same with the Miami Heat were this past off-season.
Consider Vujacic Carlos Arroyo and Kris Humphries Udonis Haslem. The core is the key.
With that core, the Nets will have no trouble selling out their Atlantic Yards arena and Prokhorov can stop hemorrhaging money.
In the short term, the 10-28 Nets (going on 10-31, 11-30 at best) will sell their fans on a roster filled out by Billups and Hamilton. They’ll point to the standings and encourage an eighth playoff seed in an Eastern Conference with six good teams and everyone else.
Here’s a look at Tuesday’s potential Nets:
PG Chauncey Billups/Jordan Farmar
SG Richard Hamilton/Sasha Vujacic/Anthony Carter
SF Carmelo Anthony/Travis Outlaw/Damion James
PF Kris Humphries/DaJuan Summers
C Brook Lopez/Shelden Williams
Management’s message: “Only six games out!”
The final two to three roster spots could be filled out by Al Harrington, Terrico White, or any number of players the Nuggets or Pistons are looking to dump in order to shed salary.
(Side note: Harrington probably won’t be a deal breaker, but imagine Harrington and Outlaw garnering $56 million over the next four years. Yikes.)
King, Prokhorov, and Avery Johnson aren’t worried about 2010, though.
Any trade the Nets make for Anthony has two things written all over it: “2012” and “Chris Paul.”