NBA Lockout Over: What The New Jersey Nets Are Working With

When the NBA lockout finally comes to an end on Dec. 9, the New Jersey Nets will finally start building for Brooklyn, which means finding a way to keep point guard Deron Williams longer than the 2011-12 season.

Team are not allowed to have any contact with free agents or their own players until the lockout is officially lifted, so get ready for one of the craziest two week spans you have ever seen. But before we start figuring out best free agent fits (and how quickly the Nets will use the new "amnesty" rules to get rid of Travis Outlaw) let's look at what GM Billy King has to work with moving forward.

Our amazing friends over at NetsDaily have a detailed rundown that is a must read, but here are the highlights:

  • The Nets should be roughly $23 million under the $58 million salary cap. Only the Packers, Kings, Nuggets and possibly the Wizards would have more.
  • Players still under contract: Deron Williams, Outlaw, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Johan Petro, Brook Lopez, Damion James, MarShon Brooks, Sundiata Gaines and Jordan Williams. Stephen Graham's status will be decided by a team option.
  • New Jersey/Brooklyn will have five draft picks over the next three years. Three of their own and two they brought back in trades. One of the picks they acquired was the Houston Rockets' 2012 first round pick (lottery protected) from the Terrence Williams (remember him?) trade.
  • Depending on how the new CBA is setup, the Nets should have a $1.3 million trade exception from the Williams trade. The way exceptions were used in the past were confusing and that isn't likely to change with the new rules, but if the team gets to keep this one, it could prove to be valuable when it's time to make trades.
  • The Nets should have a mid-level exception of $5 million over four years. Again, something that will prove valuable as New Jersey looks to round out its roster around Williams and Lopez.

There are still details to be ironed out, but in the end it's pretty simple: the New Jersey Nets are in as good or better position than virtually every team in the NBA.  That won't mean much if they lose Williams following the 2011-12 season, but right now things are looking good for the Nets as they complete their final season in New Jersey and head towards Brooklyn.

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