Nets Basketball: The Bridge to Brooklyn
Added by Matt Kardos on December 22, 2011.
The New Jersey Nets will drop the curtain on their final season in the “Garden State,” next Monday when they travel to the nation’s capitol to take on the Washington Wizards. For a franchise that has spent a majority of its existence shrouded in mystery, the Nets will open the 2011-2012 campaign with only one element set in stone, that being their move to Brooklyn next season. The questions surrounding the team far outweigh the definitive.
Will Deron Williams resign? Will they trade for Dwight Howard? Who comes and goes in a trade? How do they stay competitive in the meantime? How do you keep the current roster motivated with constant season long trade talk? These are all likely questions that will be posed to the team for the next two months until the NBA trade deadline approaches.
For weeks now we have known that Dwight Howard has requested a trade from Orlando to the Nets on multiple occasions. With no intentions of resigning with the Magic, the Orlando brass has still been hesitant to deal their franchise player before the season begins on Christmas day. Rather than eliminate all distractions and constant speculation during the season, Orlando has opted to go the “Melodrama,” route that the league was subjected to last season when constant rumors had Carmelo Anthony being dealt to the Nets. Without question the trade rumors took a toll on both teams and their play suffered on the court as a direct result.
The best way to explain many situations in sports is equating it to a real life happening. The frame of mind coming from Orlando is this; Dwight Howard is like the beautiful girlfriend you have dated for seven years, you thought you may spend the rest of your life with her. Now, she has told you that she wants to see other people. At first you struggle to believe it and try your best to make her believe otherwise, but after weeks and months of trying your hardest, you see the writing on the wall and eventually part ways. Orlando is still struggling to cope with the fact that Howard no longer wants to be part of what is going on there and they will eventually deal him at the trade deadline.
Howard is going to bolt come seasons end, perhaps, nobody knows this more than Orlando management. They are struggling to come to terms and are convinced they have a chance to change his mind. All along, it has always been about winning first for Howard and it just hasn’t happened for him in a Magic uniform. As the franchise player, he has requested to GM Otis Smith several role players be added to fit their style, only to be shunned away in the decision making process. With little help surrounding him and many failed attempts at bringing in what were thought to be impact players like Vince Carter, Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu on inflated contracts; Howard has reached his boiling point with the franchise and desperately wants to find his way to the Nets to team up with Williams.
The relationship between Howard and Williams cannot be discounted in this situation. The two players talk frequently, and as a pending free agent who wants to go into Brooklyn next season and be the face of a renewed franchise that can compete consistently for the NBA title. It is conceivable that come March, the Nets could have two of the top seven players in the NBA on their team.
The state of New Jersey has long been a draw back to attracting free agents. With their pending move into the grandest city in the world in the most expensive arena that has ever been built with the best point guard and center in the NBA along with an owner with endless cash flow, the Nets would instantly become the prime destination for free agents for years to come.
Perhaps the wins won’t be there early on this season, but this year was never about wins anyway, it has always been the bridge to Brooklyn. The number one goal was to satisfy Williams with a roster that would convince him to remain a Net long term. Williams has gone on record as saying the one player that would undoubtedly keep him a Net long term is Howard. Make no mistake; the roster they tip the season off with will not be the roster they end with. D-Will is well aware of what is going on, perhaps more so than Nets GM Billy King. Howard is coming either via trade or as a free agent this summer and I think the Nets and Williams know this. If Orlando wants to prevent losing him for nothing in return much like the Cavs did with Lebron, they will ship him north to Jersey when the trade deadline looms and all of their leverage has diminished.