Even though the Brooklyn Nets are fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with a 31-22 record, they will need to make some sort of significant trade acquisition before the Feb. 21 deadline if they want to have a legitimate run through the NBA postseason.
The Nets are looking to add size to their roster and have even been linked to Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith. However, I believe Brooklyn is more interested in acquiring Portland Trail Blazers center/forward J.J. Hickson who will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. It is true that the Nets have been recently reported as being hesitant towards the idea but that does not mean they will not pull the trigger sometime this week.
The 24-year-old is having one of the best first halves of his career as he is averaging 12.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 29.2 minutes per game while converting 56.6 percent of his shots from the floor. He would instantly bring solid production to Brooklyn’s front court where Kris Humphries, one of the Nets trade chips, could be heading out of town.
Hickson has the option to veto any trade to any team because he would be losing his Bird Rights by being traded to the Nets. Bird Rights allows a team to re-sign a player while still exceeding the maximum salary cap. Hickson could make a lot more money by re-signing with Portland but a move to Brooklyn could be an instant opportunity to contend for a NBA championship.
However, one reason why the Nets would not trade for Hickson, even if he would make their team much better for this season, is because he would have the opportunity to sign with another team this summer. Brooklyn would most likely want a guarantee from the five-year player that he will re-sign with the organization after the season concludes. Also, the only way the Nets deal for Hickson is if they can get rid of Humphries.
Only realistic way this works is a three-team trade. The Nets would get Hickson and Ben Gordon, a good contributor off the bench, from the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats would receive Humphries and rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor because with Gordon they would have no use for him. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers would get Brooklyn shooting guard MarShon Brooks along with a couple of second round draft picks.
The Nets would obviously benefit the most from this trade in the short term. However, the Bobcats would be getting a decent rebounder when his head is in the game and a point guard that could be something special if given the right opportunity. The Trail Blazers will be getting a solid young guard who has already proven his worth when given the proper amount of minutes to play. Not to mention, a couple of draft picks could turn into something significant down the road.
As I said before, Brooklyn has already stated that they are considering backing down from acquiring Hickson but that does not mean they will not still trade for him. Every year there are teams that claim they are not going through with a deal but at the very last second they pull it off.