The Brooklyn Nets enter the second half of the season in the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but are within striking distance of the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks for the second seed.
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Because of their position, the Nets will be on the lookout for help at the trade deadline, and have their eyes set on a free-agent-to-be and a highly-priced backup among others.
Players linked to the Nets
Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith's production is down from a year ago, which makes him a good buy-low candidate, according to ESPN.com's Kevin Pelton. The Hawks could look to part with the 27-year-old Smith because he is reportedly seeking a max contract, which Atlanta seems hesitant to offer. The Nets are looking for an upgrade at power forward, and Smith is the best one available.
Ben Gordon recently got into a spat with Charlotte Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap, and it's believed that the Bobcats would like to move the veteran shooting guard. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Nets have been mulling a Gordon-for-Kris Humphries swap, but are currently looking for better deals elsewhere.
If a trade for Smith cannot be made, there are several other power forwards that have come up as possibilities for the Nets. Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News reported that Brooklyn was looking at the Utah Jazz's Paul Millsap, who is set to become a free agent this summer. A move for Millsap would make quite a bit of sense as he and Deron Williams have history in Utah together.
Another option could be J.J. Hickson of the Portland Trail Blazers, although Hickson can veto any deal to protect his Bird Rights. Perhaps an even more speculative possibility is the Chicago Bulls' Carlos Boozer, who is supposedly on the block and also has history with Williams.
And what about Dwight How .... let's just stop right there.
Who could be moved?
The name that comes up in almost every Nets trade rumor is Humphries, who is owed $12 million for both this year and next year. After a pretty productive season last year, Humphries has found himself in the doghouse this year, hence all the rumors swirling around him. Any team trading for him would hope that a change in scenery would help Humphries regain some of that productiveness.
Another name sure to be coveted by other teams is the talented, but erratic MarShon Brooks. After a solid rookie campaign last season, Brooks has seen inconsistent playing time this year. However, he has a lot of scoring ability and is on an extremely cheap rookie deal, so he could be of a lot of value to another team.
Something else to note is that the Nets have all their draft picks from now until 2019. Those could come in handy when trying to consummate a deal.
The Nets went on a spending spree this past offseason, handing out a whopping total of $347.55 million in contracts without even taking into account an estimated $22.6 million in luxury tax payments. But that does not appear to be stopping them from pursuing upgrades, especially at power forward, where the limited Reggie Evans currently starts. Smith is likely the first choice, but making the deal happen could be complicated and may require a third team.
Even if the deal somehow does go down, would it be enough to push the Nets past the Miami Heat? And would the Nets be willing to shell out a max contract to Smith in the offseason? Either way, look for the Nets to make some type of move before the deadline.