The Brooklyn Nets have had a successful first 52 games in their new city, all things considered. After all, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were expected to be the primary scorers and leaders for this team and that hasn’t happened this season.
Williams is averaging 7.6 assists and 16.7 points per game on only 41.3 percent shooting, all of which are lower than his career averages. Johnson’s narrative this year is similar as he’s averaging 3.4 assists, three rebounds and 16.8 points per game on just 42.1 percent shooting. Like Williams, those numbers for Johnson this season are all below his career high-water marks.
One of the reasons the Nets have been able to earn a 30-22 record and are presently the fifth-place team in the NBA Eastern Conference is because of the play of Brook Lopez. The seven-foot center is averaging 18.9 points, 7.4 boards and 2.2 blocks per game this season in addition to shooting 51.8 percent from the floor. That’s why he has one of the league’s Player Efficiency Rating at 25.01.
But even with improved and tremendous play of Lopez, the Nets still don’t look like a contender in the East. They lack another frontcourt player who plays consistently well on both ends of the floor and can pick up the slack if Williams and Johnson are unable to get going in the remaining two months of the season.
For now, the Nets are stuck rotating Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries at the four position. It’s not like these players–with the exception of Humphries, who has had a let-down season so far this year–have played poorly. The problem is that neither of those three guys are accustomed, or possibly ready, to take on a large role and help elevate Brooklyn to the status of contender.
With the trade deadline only eight days away and the Nets trying to find a way to improve their most obvious weakness, they have been rumored to be in trade talks with multiple teams. Besides the reports that they discussed acquiring Ben Gordon from the Charlotte Bobcats for Humphries and MarShon Brooks, the players that they have been targeting make a ton of sense for their team.
Several reports have come out this week regarding potential trades. They’ve reportedly been talking to the Atlanta Hawks to try and get Josh Smith. Another rumor says that they have been discussing a deal with the Utah Jazz for Paul Millsap. There are also reports that Brooklyn has expressed interest in acquiring Ersan Ilyasova from the Milwaukee Bucks. If they were able to land one of those guys, it would give the Nets a strong boost for the last 30 games of the season.
Smith, Millsap and Ilyasova are all used to playing big minutes consistently and have all proven that they can produce in their time on the floor. Adding any of them makes the Nets considerably better.
The only word on what Brooklyn would have to send to acquire these guys is that the Humphries and Brooks package wasn’t enough for Atlanta. Beyond that, the talks seem to be exploratory and lacking in regards to particulars.
If the Nets are able to work out a deal that would send any of those three guys their way, they would undoubtedly become a force that could at least threaten to challenge the Miami Heat in the East. Going after these above-average forwards allows them to have more defined roles on their team, a chance to develop more chemistry as a starting unit and the opportunity to win more games.
The Nets front office is smart for pursuing these guys, but the smartest thing they can do is to do what’s necessary to make one of those deals happen.