The Brooklyn Nets want to arrive in their sparkling new arena with a playoff caliber team and that means giving the (hopefully soon to be) re-signed Deron Williams more talent than he had last season. What Williams and GM Billy King hopefully realize is they can accomplish that goal without blowing up their chances of signing Dwight Howard as a free agent in the summer of 2013.
It means adding a healthy Brook Lopez to a lineup of Williams, MarShon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and a power forward to be named later.
It also means not taking on the roughly $90 million owed to Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson over the next four seasons or overpaying Memphis Grizzlies free agent guard O.J. Mayo. Both of those deals would likely prevent the Nets from bringing in Howard on a max contract this time next year.
In addition to losing the chance to bring Howard to Brooklyn, giving big money to a guard will also likely spell the end of the Nets pursuit of unrestricted free agent Gerald Green. The high flying Green was one of the few bright spots for the Nets during their final season in New Jersey and at 26, he's still young enough to still improve his overall game.
Unless King is confident he can still make a trade for Howard work with Johnson/Mayo in the fold or Williams tells him it's the only way he will sign a new deal, he should stay far, far away. As owner Mikhail Prokhorov said from the moment he arrived on the scene, the plan is very simple: playoffs first, then a title. Brooklyn can make the playoffs with or without Johnson and Mayo, but their ticket to a title is only going to get punched if they can bring Howard to town.