As a Nets fan I really thought this would be the summer of change. I thought with Mikhail Prokhorov and his 22-story high “Blueprint of Greatness” billboard, this would be the summer the Nets made a big splash. Maybe, just maybe, LeBron would play for us, but if not, at least Amar’e Stoudemire or Rudy Gay. As it turned out, the combination of a 12-win season, two years in Newark, and Rod Thorn‘s imminent departure made the Nets less appealing than I thought they were.
While they didn’t get any of the big fish, the Nets have signed four guys already this summer: Jordan Farmar, Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro and Anthony Morrow. After taking a step back from the disillusionment and disappointment I experienced when the Nets came away empty with the big guns, I realized this offseason really has been pretty good for the Nets. They didn’t overpay for anyone, kept their cap flexibility in place, and added solid young pieces all entering their prime. While some have compared the Nets strategy to that of the Thunder – solid free agent signings, stockpile draft picks, and shrewd free agent trades – I think they are following the model of the Atlanta Hawks circa 2008.
The Hawks that year squeaked into the eighth spot in the East, and gave the Celtics a run for their money in seven games. That team was built on being younger and more athletic than their opponents, and that variable is what allowed them to be successful. That is a strategy the Nets seem to be following as they slowly rebuild their roster, and here is a breakdown of those signings:
TRAVIS OUTLAW – 5 YEARS FOR $35 MILLION
Outlaw has said he will be given a chance to start in New Jersey and hopefully he can finally fulfill his potential. He is a guy who can score in bunches, something the Nets desperately needed last year, and can wow you with his athletic abilities. He also has length, and an ability to stretch the floor, two other things the Nets need. Paying him $7 million per year is a bit steep for a guy that’s averaged only nine points per game in his career, but with the way people are being paid this offseason it’s not all that bad.
JOHAN PETRO – 3 YEARS FOR $10 MILLION
Petro is only 24, and is an athletic big man. He can be a solid backup to Brook Lopez playing 10-15 minutes per game. The signing was criticized by some, but I actually like it because with their new move toward becoming more athletic than anyone else, he brings something different to the game than Lopez does. He also is a solid shot-blocker and post defender.
ANTHONY MORROW – 3 YEARS FOR $12 MILLION
I love this signing for the Nets. Morrow shot 46 percent from three last season, and for a team that ranked dead last in three point shooting, Morrow is much needed. He can provide instant offense off the bench, a Nate Robinson type role for this team. With the loss of Chris Douglas-Roberts, Morrow can fill his role as the backup SG/SF for New Jersey.
JORDAN FARMAR – 3 YEARS FOR $12 MILLION
This is probably my favorite signing of the four for the Nets. Farmar brings a winning attitude and championship pedigree which may be more important at this point than any on-court skills he brings. Farmar also can shoot the three well, is a solid defender, and is a great insurance policy should Devin Harris get injured (which he usually does). This move also gives the Nets the ability to move Terrence Williams to the small forward with the second-unit.
All in all, the Nets are being cautious with their signings, but are putting solid pieces in place. None of these guys are stars, but they all fill needs for a team that has more needs than anyone in the League.
What do you think?
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