Nets general manager Billy King says there’s only a “10 percent chance” the Nets will make a trade before the league deadline on Thursday — and that means there’s a 90 percent chance that Brooklyn won’t make it past the Miami in the playoffs.
The Nets are a good team that has given the borough reason to cheer so far, but the borough’s new home team must bring in a new power forward to beat the Heat in a series of seven.
Power forward Kris Humphries hasn’t lived up to his large contract, averaging just six point and 6.2 rebounds per game. Reggie Evans has done a solid job in Humphries’ stead, dominating the glass and giving center Brook Lopez room to work with the ball — but his limited offensive skills don’t justify his position as a starter.
Here’s who the Nets could scoop up to solidify the front court:
Josh Smith: One week ago, the Atlanta big man — who is set to become a free agent this offseason — seemed like the answer for the Nets, but as the deadline approaches it appears Brooklyn lacks the assets to lure this star away from the Hawks.
Acquiring Smith would greatly limit the Nets spending abilities in the offseason and next year, as he would almost certainly command max money to stay after this spring. If the Nets bet on Smith, it’s a sign the front office has supreme confidence he’s the missing piece — because they would be putting all of their eggs in his basket, for the next few years, at least.
Paul Millsap: This former teammate of Deron Williams would instantly improve the Brooklyn front court — and a pick-and-roll reuniting the pair would be among the best in the Eastern Conference.
If the Nets must ship Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and a draft pick to Utah to acquire Millsap, the team should have no hesitation. If Brooklyn can manage to keep Tyshawn Taylor and the rights to Bojan Bogdanovic while still bringing in Millsap, it would be a major coup for the borough.
Carlos Boozer: It seems unlikely that the Nets will be able to reunite Williams with Boozer, his ex-Jazz teammate, as the current Bull has a mammoth contract that Brooklyn would be hard-pressed to handle.
But, as these two recently vacationed together in Miami over the All-Star break, there’s no doubt Williams would welcome his friend’s familiar face in Brooklyn.
The oft-injured Boozer is finally healthy, but even if a move to Brooklyn rejuvenates the 31-year-old big man, the Nets would be better off bringing in some younger talent.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.