NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It appears that the Nets still hope to win this season, just not as currently constructed.
According to a report on ESPN.com, Brooklyn has decided to attempt to remake itself on the fly following its lackluster 8-11 start. The Nets are open to trading point guard Deron Williams, shooting guard Joe Johnson and center Brook Lopez in an effort to restart things under new coach Lionel Hollins.
The report suggests that the Nets are not looking to dump salary, and still intend to make the playoffs. They hope to get back impact players and depth by moving arguably their three best players.
To move them would likely require separate deals because each makes a fortune. Williams is making slightly less than $20 million this season and is due a little more than $43 million over the next two seasons. Johnson and Lopez will be unrestricted free agents following the 2015-16 season, with the Nets owing them a combined $80 million, including this season.
Since beating the Knicks and defending-champion San Antonio Spurs early last week, the Nets have reverted to their inconsistent ways, looking largely non-competitive in home losses to the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Williams, Johnson and Lopez were the core pieces next to which general manager Billy King added Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett two summers ago, a daring trade with the Boston Celtics that cost the Nets a slew of draft picks and took their salary structure to another level. What followed was a 10-21 start under rookie head coach Jason Kidd, followed by a second-half rally that got them as far as the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Pierce then bolted to the Washington Wizards in free agency, leaving behind Garnett, who is making $12 million this season and is not nearly the dominant player he was earlier in his certain Hall of Fame career.
Williams has often been criticized for not being the point guard he was prior to the Nets acquiring him from the Utah Jazz during the 2010-11 season. Problems with his ankles contributed to the 30-year-old guard having his worst statistical season last season. However, Williams is off to a good start this season, averaging 17.1 points and 6.5 assists.
Johnson remains one of the NBA’s better outside shooters. He is averaging 17.5 points and has shot better than 44 percent from the field over his 14-year career. He’s also been the club’s emotional leader, never shying away from speaking his mind about how he perceives the current state of the team.
Lopez has struggled with injuries over his last four seasons, missing 153 games. When healthy, the 7-footer can be an impact offensive player, as he excels in both the low post and on the perimeter, but his defensive deficiencies are readily apparent.
The Nets play at the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday before returning home to face the lowly Philadelphia 76ers on Friday.
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