Mar 28, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams (8) works the base line against Indiana Pacers point guard Darren Collison (2) at the Prudential Center. New Jersey Nets defeat the Indiana Pacers 100-84. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
No team is on the cusp of changing their fortunes quicker than the newly minted Brooklyn Nets. Out of nowhere, the team has gone from hoping for a shot at resigning Deron Williams in hopes of enticing Dwight Howard to being the go-to destination for the league's best big man, to go alongside an exciting (albeit expensive) collection of potential talent that could skyrocket them up the Eastern Conference standings. The nearly endless stream of news coming out of Brooklyn has made them the toast of the NBA Free Agency period, and as Deron Williams signs a 5 year/$100 million contract with the team, it's not hard to see why they'll be expected to challenge in the East immediately.
While the ink dries on the Nets' new deal with their star point guard, Chris Broussard of ESPN broke the news this morning that a proposed deal was on the table between the Nets and the Magic involving Dwight Howard and Nets players Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, and MarShon Brooks, in addition to three first round draft picks. Dwight Howard's potential landing spot has been a hot button issue for the Indiana Pacers, who despite current question marks regarding their own center position, still feel they would hold a decided advantage in the East with Roy Hibbert against any center not named Dwight Howard.
Of course, Howard to the Nets was always a possibility, it simply became more of one when Howard essentially demanded a trade to Brooklyn. With the proposed deal, the evolution of the story showed that despite Howard's claims that he would only resign with the Nets, Orlando continue to entertain potential suitors in the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and the Atlanta Hawks.
The Nets, interestingly enough, opened up the opportunity for the Hawks to become involved when they agreed to take on Joe Johnson's albatross contract, which is expected to go into effect now that William's returned to the Nets. Suddenly, the Nets are one final piece away from sweeping their dream offseason. This all coming from the team that continues to throw around money in signing Gerald Wallace to a four year/$40 million deal, picking up star Euroleaguer Mirza Teletovic for 3 years/$15 million while even finding time to grab Reggie Evans from the Clippers.
Not only are the Nets swinging for the fences, they're also swinging for a painful luxury tax, but with the almost limitless pockets of owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Brooklyn certainly appears unaffected by the NBA's stiff luxury tax penalties. It's almost night and day compared to what the Pacers can do, isn't it? Of course, a certain New York team in the NFL has proven that headlines in the offseason don't equate to banners at the end of the postseason, but even then, the Nets, who seem to be growing stronger by the minute, are going to give a stable Indiana team with their own current free agency instabilities plenty of problems if they can finish their free agency coup.
The national media are ready to pounce all over the Brooklyn Nets as a team to reckon with, complete with outlandish overreactions about how they'll beat the Miami Heat and breeze through the rest of the Eastern Conference competition, but so long as Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard have a good enough plan to keep the team in tact and improve while not getting swept up in everything the Nets are doing by making panic moves, there's no reason to believe Indiana won't still be in position to outperform the new look Nets as the national media continues to glance over what the blue collar Pacers are building in favor of the sexy names accumulating in New York.