Will Deron Williams stay or will he go?
Brook Lopez wants to stay, but should the Nets sign him long-term?
What does the team do with its remaining cap space?
These are all tough questions that only time can answer. The Nets do have more flexibility than most teams and can make a splash in free agency. Unfortunately, this year’s free agent class pales in comparison to that of 2013.
And of course, everything hinges on Williams.
I think the allure of a new home in Brooklyn is enough to keep him from going to his first home in Dallas. So, let’s say he resigns and the contract starts at around $17 million. Lopez, a restricted free agent, signs the qualifying offer for $4.2 million, making him unrestricted in 2013. The Nets would have roughly $20 million to spend on remaining free agents, including Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.
Wallace and Humphries are veterans most likely looking for their last long-term contract. If the Nets commit to them, their cap room is occupied and the dream of Dwight Howard is all but gone. The dream of any big time free agent is all but gone.
Here is what the Nets roster could potentially look like by the end of free agency:
Point Guard: Deron Williams ($17M), Jordan Farmar ($4.2M) Sundiata Gaines ($1M)
Shooting Guard: MarShon Brooks ($1.1M), Anthony Morrow ($4M)
Small Forward: Damion James ($1.3M) Gerald Green ($1M)
Center: Brook Lopez ($4.2M), Johan Petro ($3.5M), Jordan Williams ($760,000)
You may notice a gaping hole at the power forward position, but there are many options that would be good fit for the team. Signing a guy like Ersan Ilyasova for the mid-level exception would be huge because the team would still have flexibility next year. A good one-year rental would be Antawn Jamison who proved he could still get it done in the twilight of his career. Other power forwards the team could consider are Jason Thompson, J.J. Hickson, and original Nets draft pick Ryan Anderson. Those players are all restricted, however, so their current teams can always match an offer.
The small forward position is a little tougher to gauge because Wallace is easily the best of the bunch. If the Nets don’t want to give him a long-term deal, they might have to depend on youngster Damion James, and journeyman Gerald Green, who played well in big minutes toward the end of the season. Other options include Matt Barnes, C.J. Miles, and Dominic McGuire.
MarShon Brooks played well in his rookie campaign, and is poised to be the starting shooting guard in the inaugural game at the Barclays Center. Anthony Morrow is a formidable backup and the team will likely sign someone to take DeShawn Stevenson’s spot.
The point guard and center position is set with Williams and Lopez starting, and Farmar and Petro off the bench.
There are many more questions about the Nets future that will slowly start to be answered. Some answers may come as soon as May 21, when the team’s first free agent camp opens. Others might take a little longer to unravel.
One thing is certain, the biggest question still revolves around Williams.
Will he stay or will he go?