For all the talk about the New Jersey Nets trading for Dwight Howard or signing a big name free agent like Tyson Chandler or Nene, they actually have some players of their own that need to be taken care of... or set free.
The Nets have 11 players under contract, leaving few open spots, but with so much cap space to spend and a willingness to make a major trade their entire roster situation is fluid.
Leading this year's group of Nets players that are free agents is power forward Kris Humphries. As we have noted, he might not be done being in front of the camera even though his marriage to Kim Kardashian is over and that could have an impact on just how much interest GM Billy King will have in bringing him back.
The more likely factor involved in the decision around Humphries return is which free agent the team is able to sign. If they are able to land Tyson Chandler -- the only player on the market as good of a rebounder as Humphries -- it would be a waste of precious cap space to bring him back. However, with Nene being more of an offensive weapon and Brook Lopez light years away from being a competent rebounder, Humphries could be the perfect guy to keep around to clean the glass.
After Humphries, things get awfully thin as far as free agents go. Dan Gadzuric, Sasha Vujacic and Mario West all finished last season on the Nets roster, but signed deals abroad during the lockout and do not have "out" clauses in their contracts like the one that allowed Deron Williams and Jordan Farmar to return to the NBA.
Brandan Wright is a former first-round pick that appeared in 16 games for New Jersey following a trade from the Golden State Warriors. He averaged 3.6 points and 3 rebounds per game in limited action and would be a long shot to return to Newark. Instead, the restricted free agent will be better served finding a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers or Sacramento Kings that would be willing to take a flier.
The only other free agent from last year's Nets squad is point guard Ben Uzoh. After finding his way to New Jersey as an undrafted free agent, Uzoh showed some promise as the Nets dealt with multiple injuries in the backcourt. He ended up playing 42 games, averaging 3.8 points and 1.6 assists in just over 10 minutes per game.
Uzoh took his talents overseas during the lockout as well, but didn't have nearly as much success as the other Nets point guards. He bounced around between Italy and Russia, but seems to be available to play in the NBA for the beginning of training camp. Clearly the Nets have bigger fish to fry, but he would be a great player to have around for the final spot on the roster. A kid with a great motor that will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Here is a breakdown of the Nets free agents:
Unrestricted Free Agents
Sasha Vujacic *
Mario West *
Restricted Free Agents
*overseas contract does not include an NBA "out" clause