The Brooklyn Nets got tired of trying to woo Dwight Howard and pulled the trigger on a trade for Joe Johnson. The Nets are now still trying to trade for Howard in a scenario which would involve multiple sign and trades [ie, highly unlikely], but Howard still hasn't expanded his list of teams he'll sign an extension with.
While Brooklyn will be in cap hell when it comes to putting their team together and have signed up for a scenario that likely will lead to an utter crapload of luxury tax built around some players that are probably slowing down rather than ramping up, you have to admire how their ownership was committed to the team.
Finances be damned, the Nets were going to make a splash. Now the question is whether or not they'll carry that same attitude into this thing two to three years from now.
However, presently the Nets could look like this:
Deron Williams [17.7]
Joe Johnson [19.7] / MarShon Brooks 
Gerald Wallace 
Mirza Teletovic  / Reggie Evans [1.5]
Brook Lopez [who knows]
Deron Williams would likely need to take a small pay cut in order to facilitate a trade of Dwight Howard. If my math is right, the total salaries of the team with Howard added and MarShon Brooks subtraced come out to around 72.4 million for six players when you count Deron Williams at 17.7. If they sign six rookies to the minimum [which is considerably cheaper], they could fill out a roster for a shade over 75 million.
The final tax apron hasn't been computed yet, but most people estimate it will be a shade over 74 million (which is the minimum it can be). In that case, if Deron signs for a million dollar pay cut, the Nets could still work something out. Now the Magic have come out and said they have formally ruled out trading Howard to the Nets so this all might be irrelevant.
That said, let's just assume that the Nets come to terms with Brook Lopez after which they'll still have room to add players at the veteran minimum instead of the rookie minimum. That's a pretty darn good roster with a very good player at every position except possibly Mirza Teletovic who isn't proven [however, he's an extremely good European player].
All in all, even without Howard, the Nets probably did enough to get Deron Williams to come back, and they also likely did enough to vault to compete for the #2 seed in the East. I like the Bulls better, but the Bulls will likely finish with a lower seed if their team gels since Rose will miss so much of the season.
Either way, while I think their moves will ultimately fall well short of winning a title if they can't close the deal on Howard, they took a team without a whole lot to offer in theory and turned it into one that now looks like a serious threat by their willingness to go all in.
The Bulls, with far more assets, could have made an even bigger splash but wouldn't even consider paying the type of tax involved. They want their profits. The Nets will likely lose money for years, but their owner is committed to winning not profits. Say what you want about Joe Johnson's near worst contract in the NBA, but the guy could play. If Chicago didn't care about profits they could have traded their non guaranteeds and Rip Hamilton for him.
I'm not upset we didn't make that move given that I know the team doesn't have the backbone to continue to spend even when the prices get so high, but I have to admit, I'm jealous of the Nets ownership already. If we had that commitment here, we'd be a lot closer to a ring.
So does Chicago get back in the Dwight sweepstakes?
They should. Even if there's no extension in place. Noah + Deng for Dwight Howard likely trumps the other offers on the table right now for Dwight, and I think you can convince Dwight to stay. You also make yourself the premier destination for perimeter ring chasers because you have more opportunities to become a meaningful contributor than Miami with a team that could easily beat them.
Worst case scenario is Howard walks, you amnesty Boozer, and you've basically got a blank slate to work with cap wise with just Derrick Rose, Taj, and rookie deals on the books which isn't that bad of a scenario to rebuild with.
If things work out, you've given yourself a true contender that can go toe to toe with the Heat attacking them at their two weakest positions on offense with Rose/Howard. Quite frankly, I don't see how you can't get involved in this. At some point you need to stop being risk adverse and go for it.
If you can pull off the trade, then no Bulls fan is ever going to blame the team if Howard walks away later. We'd all accept it as an appropriate risk to have taken. A championship style risk.
So far, there's no whispers about the Bulls being involved, but they did say they were interested only if Howard agreed to an extension during the last Howard drama.
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