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The Brooklyn Nets had an active offseason that included the re-signing of Deron Williams and the trade for Joe Johnson. Were those moves the right one?
The Brooklyn Nets knew they needed to make some big moves to get fans excited about the move to the Barclays Center, and they didn't disappoint. Most of those were to re-sign their own players, but they did pull off a blockbuster trade for an all-star and added several key bench players. Here's a look at the many transactions Billy King and company pulled off.
Johnson is very overpaid even before you consider the three additional years on his gargantuan contract after this season, but he's also going to help the Nets a ton last year. If you think about it, the Nets traded a platter of bench players and no consequential draft picks for both Johnson and Deron Williams, because the latter admitted the Nets' bold moves convinced him to re-sign. That's a no brainer even if Williams' and Johnson's contracts extended to 2050.
While Johnson and Williams both like to dominate the ball, their offensive skill sets potentially mesh quite well. Williams is a rarity among today's point guards in that he's an excellent off-ball player. The Nets often played with two small guards in the backcourt, allowing Jordan Farmar to handle the ball as Williams ran off screens. Moving from Farmar to Johnson is a hell of an upgrade. As Williams runs through screens, Johnson is capable of delivering pinpoint passes and going on his own when the play breaks down. Johnson is also a capable off-ball player, particularly when posting up smaller guards, so Williams can certainly set him up too. Almost nobody in the league has Johnson's combination of size, ball-handling, passing, deep shooting and shot creation skills, which makes him so valuable to coaches.
For those similarities to shine through, Johnson will have to unlearn some bad habits he developed in Atlanta while carrying so heavy an offensive load. He needs to cut out some bad shots and learn to defer to Williams when the shot clock is running down. Assuming he can do that enough, though, he's a huge addition.
Considering the huge price they paid to acquire him in 2010, the Nets absolutely needed to re-sign Williams last summer. They did, but not before a major push from Williams' hometown Dallas Mavericks. Crisis averted.
Wallace was quietly excellent for the Nets last season after a midseason trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, taking on a larger offensive role than he did in Portland. Now, after signing a four-year, $40 million extension, he'll get to fade back into the background with the addition of Johnson. We keep waiting for Wallace's game to fall apart as his athleticism wanes, and it still hasn't happened. It will probably happen at some point during the next four years, but it probably won't be this year.
The Nets were pot-committed, so they had to hand Lopez a four-year, $61 million contract. Now, they need Lopez to step it up. Lopez missed almost all of last season, but he had declined as a rebounder and defender in the year prior to that injury. His offense will bounce back without too many issues due to all the talent around him, but the Nets will need him to make major strides in those two areas of weakness if they want to be legitimate contenders this season.
Humphries' rebounding and shooting efficiency dropped off a tad from his breakout 2010-11 season, but he still was an effective player for the second straight year, even if he created more offense than he probably should. With more talent around him, Humphries would be smart to go back to doing the dirty work and letting Williams, Johnson and Lopez handle the scoring.
Every so often, though, it might be smart for the Nets to give him a post up. He ranked 25th in points per possession on those plays last year, according to MySynergySports.com.
Teletovic comes to the U.S. with a reputation for being a quintessential stretch four, and that's something the Nets will use to overwhelm defenses. His defense is still a bit up in the air, though, and the Nets are deficient there. If he can defend passably, I wouldn't be surprised to see him cut into Humphries' minutes.
The perfect backup point guard, Watson provided much-needed stability for the Bulls when Derrick Rose went down with an injury. He's the kind of guy that will provide a certain level of play fairly consistently no matter the situation. I would expect the Nets to use him alongside both Williams and Johnson in small lineups, allowing Watson to return to the combo-guard role he occupied in Golden State.
New team, same Reggie Evans.
ANDRAY BLATCHE AND JOSH CHILDRESS
They are just training-camp invites, but I think Childress might be able to stick with this team given the Nets' lack of depth at small forward. Childress has value, and I think it shows itself now that he's not playing for the Phoenix Suns, a team that expects all their wing players to have superb shooting range. The Nets have plenty of offense, so Childress can focus on getting out in transition, cutting from the weakside and defending.
OVERALL GRADE: B+