The Brooklyn Nets made the biggest splash of the offseason, acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in a blockbuster deal with the Boston Celtics. The Nets also signed Andrei Kirilenko on the cheap, which bolstered the depth of a super-expensive team with championship aspirations.
Of course, things didn't go as planned early in the year. Kirilenko and Terry barely played due to injuries. Deron Williams battled ankle issues. Garnett and Pierce looked old and bad. Jason Kidd looked lost as a first-year head coach. And to top it all off, Brook Lopez went down for the year with yet another foot injury.
But after starting 10-21, the Nets have gone 14-6 in 2014, embracing a small-ball approach with Garnett at center. Brooklyn is currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. The team would certainly like to avoid the seventh and eighth spots in order to have a chance at winning a first-round playoff series.
With this in mind, the Nets could look to make a move to upgrade the roster for the stretch run.
The disabled player exception and frontcourt help
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The Nets were granted a disabled player exception after Lopez was ruled out for the season. The exception allows the team to sign any free agent to 50 percent of Lopez's $14.6 million salary or for the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. It can also be used to trade for a player in the final year of his contract under the same restrictions mentioned above.
This has opened up the possibility of the Nets making a deadline move to improve, and it looks like they could target a replacement big man as they strive for the playoffs. The team is rumored to have opened discussions with the Los Angeles Lakers, targeting reserve big man Jordan Hill. Hill could fit into the team's disabled player exception, though the Lakers could be interested in more than salary relief if they trade Hill.
The Nets could use a reserve big man, but they're also in search of help elsewhere. Brooklyn can hold onto its exception until March 15, however, if it can't find a deal. This leaves the Nets the option of signing a free agent if they do not trade it by the deadline.
A proven ball-handler
The Nets are also looking for a reserve point guard to help with ball-handling duties. Deron Williams' ankles have been an issue over the past two seasons and he's missed significant time already. If the team is serious about hanging onto a playoff seed this season, it could use backcourt help to help shorten Williams' minute load and provide an insurance policy.
How willing is Brooklyn to pay for a player who fits that mold? The team is reportedly interested in swapping swingman Jason Terry for Cleveland Cavaliers reserve point guard Jarrett Jack. Jack is still due significant salary after signing a four-year, $25.2 million contract with Cleveland last summer.
Jack would be a solid addition and fills out the need for a strong reserve, but his contract comes with severe financial implications.
Things could end quietly for Brooklyn
The Nets have made a minor move already, acquiring Marquis Teague from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Tornike Shengelia. Tyshawn Taylor was also moved in the deal, going to the New Orleans Pelicans before being waived. Teague has played sparingly in Brooklyn, so this was a deal that didn't really move the needle.
The Nets were involved in several major trade rumors earlier in the year that never came to fruition. There was interest in Kyle Lowry, a Lopez-for-Pau Gasol swap discussed and an offer from the Houston Rockets for Williams that included Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.
Brooklyn is testing the waters, but with the highest payroll in the NBA underperforming, Mikhail Prokhorov could stop the bleeding while the team regroups for a second try next season once Brook Lopez is back.