We don’t often cover the
New Jersey Brooklyn Nets here at the Beef, because, well, they are the Nets, but two interesting bits of news popped up this morning concerning them.
Brooklyn (I will have to get used to that) has been rumored to be in the market for just about every available free agent in the world. They have been linked to Dwight Howard (roll eyes here) and trying to retain Deron Williams especially. However, to land those two it would likely have to be a package deal. You can’t have one without the other.
Despite possibly being out of the race for the two big names, the Nets are not looking to stand pat. According to Gery Woelfel, Brooklyn is the front-runner to land standout power forward Ersan Ilyasova as he becomes a free agent this summer.
Ilyasova had a breakout season this year for the Milwaukee Bucks posting 17 points and 11.5 rebounds per 36 minutes. Those gaudy numbers landed him on many Most Improved Player lists when the awards were being handed out at season’s end.
Having made just $2.5 with the Bucks in his final year under contract, it is assumed that Ilyasova will command an annual salary in the ballpark of $8 million whenever he inks a new deal. That is a sizable chunk of change but Mikhail Prokhorov has shown a willingness to spend in order to return the Nets to relevance.
The acquisition of Ilyasova, who was scouted heavily this season by the Nets, would be big for Brooklyn as they also look to retain Gerald Wallace. Those two players, though dramatically different stylistically, would help to bolster the team’s frontcourt along with a healthy Brook Lopez.
It will be interesting to see how, if they do land him, Ilyasova and Avery Johnson mesh. Johnson has only really found success with one power forward in his career as a head coach and he was named Dirk Nowitzki. The Nets brought in Troy Murphy, who was riding a high with the Pacers, but Murphy quickly fell out of the graces of Johnson and was relegated to the bench, eventually lost in obscurity only to later find himself on the Celtics’ bench. I bring up Murphy because, at his peak, his game and that of Ilyasova are very similar. Yes, this is a different scenario with Ilyasova entering his fifth year in the NBA and Murphy was a veteran player but the similarities cannot be denied.
If Williams does choose to relocate this summer the Nets have a plan B. They have joined a long list of teams that will be suitors for Steve Nash. Nash will be an unrestricted free agent and has a bevy of teams clawing for his services. Where ever Nash decides to play, it will likely be the last contract, probably a three-year deal, he signs. Brooklyn will be hard pressed to get Nash though, as the Phoenix Suns will make a hard push to retain their star. Portland and Toronto will also be pushing to sign him with other teams such as Dallas, Miami, New York, and Chicago waiting in the wings.
Of course, everything hinges on Williams and the likely out of reach Howard. From the looks of it though, when free agency begins in July, the Nets will be major players.