The Nets Want To Win Now. Good Luck With That

The New Jersey Nets pulled off the surprise trade at the deadline this past February, prying mega-star point guard Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, picks and cash.  

It was a head-shaking splash that was seen at stealing some thunder from the New York Knicks, who had just acquired Carmelo Anthony (whom the Nets wanted as well). 

Having a franchise player like Williams in place for at least one more year (if he doesn’t opt out of the almost $18 million he’s due in 2012-13), Nets GM Billy King says the Nets are in “win now” mode.

“When you make a move like we did to get Deron Williams, you’re making a move that you’re trying to win now,” said the Nets GM.  “He’s 26. and you can say to yourself in three or four years you want to be in a position to win a championship. At that point, he’s 30 years old. So, when you’ve got Brook [Lopez] also and Deron, we’re gonna try to make moves so that we’re in the playoffs. once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen”.

That is, unless you’re the Nets.

I can certainly appreciate King’s sentiment.  He’s trying to rally the fans around a couple of players that are worthy of getting excited about.  But the fact remains that the Nets are still not quite close to competing with the class of the Eastern Conference.  

In Deron Williams, the Nets clearly have one of the top players in the league.  He’s in that transcendent class of point guards that can not only score, but also see plays that no one else sees yet and make plays for his teammates.  In Lopez, the Nets have a really good seven-footer at a time where even above-average seven-footers are hard to find.  But he needs to get tougher before he can be counted on to be enough of an option “1-A” against the East.  I mean, six rebounds a game just ain’t gonna cut it, son. 

The rest of the cast is a mix of varying degrees of “OK” players.  Kris Humphries-Kardashian can make up for Lopez’s lack of boarding.  His improvement over the last year was encouraging as he finished with his best month of the season (averaging just above 14 points and almost 15 rebounds in March).  Travis Outlaw is alright and Jordan Farmar can have a decent game off the bench, but none of these other guys really wow you. 

The most encouraging thing the Nets have (for now, anyway. You know, CBA blah blah blah) is cap space.  Even if the new labor deal slashes the salary cap, the Nets will probably have space to play with.  Their payroll is under $40 million at this point, so they can try to go out and sign someone that can fill one of the Nets’ voids.  King says he’ll probably make the Nets pick at 27 in the upcoming draft, but that won’t be an impact player. 

Oh, and there are other obstacles to winning now:  The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks… to name a few.  Maybe the Nets can muster a few wins against some of these teams.  Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs at a 7th or, if they make some good moves, a 6th or 5th seed.  Maybe.  But they won’t have enough to battle the class of the East.  They have a lot of cap space, but not enough to make that kind of leap.  

So it’s great that King is all about winning now.  The fans want, ne’, NEED, to hear that in Jersey (and Brooklyn).  The players need to hear it so they can feel like they’re playing for something. But it’s not happening.  Maybe in a couple of years, if Williams sees enough promise to exercise his option and maybe even sign an extension.  But not now. 

Associated Press photo