P.J. Carlesimo did an admirable job on an interim basis, but assuming he didn’t lead the Nets to the Eastern Conference finals, his fate was pretty much sealed long before his firing.
Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King want to bring in their own guy, and that search is ongoing.
Yet, while the main focus right now is on finding a coach who is a good fit, the Nets’ brass must also explore potential players who can help take this team to the next level.
Of course, since the playoffs are still going on, no player transactions will take place. But that doesn’t mean the front office should put this totally on the backburner.
Looking at the roster, there are some tough decisions to be made.
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez are all locked up. In the cases of Johnson and Wallace, their diminishing production would probably scare opposing GMs away from trading for them, and the Nets probably would not consider moving either Williams or Lopez.
Barring any major trades, that leaves the power forward position. Reggie Evans had his moments this season of being a complete bruiser on the boards, but his lack of offense really was a hindrance, especially when Johnson, Williams or Lopez didn’t show up offensively.
We will likely be talking all summer about potential free agents that would fit the Nets’ needs. Prokhorov has shown he’s not afraid to sign big-time checks to lure in top talent, so at least that’s working in the Nets favor to try to improve the team.
At the power forward position, although there are several offensive minded players available—including Josh Smith, David West and Paul Millsap—the Nets do not have a realistic chance at acquiring any of these three. The Nets have no cap space and will not be permitted to complete a sign-and-trade deal for any of them due to their payroll.
Kris Humphries and his $12 million expiring contract and the Nets taxpayer midlevel exception—$3.18 million—are all the team really has at its disposal at the moment.
And while offensive big men are great, keep in mind that the Nets need to improve their interior defense too. Think of all the easy buckets the Bulls scored in Game 7 of the first round. That needs to be addressed.
Andray Blatche also presents a conundrum. At times, he looked like he could be a starter for this team, and then there were times where he looked like he was still playing for the Wizards.
Did Blatche do enough this year to earn a definite starting gig with another team? We’ll find out this offseason, but if not, maybe he has done enough to place himself in the mix for the Nets’ starting power forward job.
Blatche will be an unrestricted free agent, so who knows what will happen with him.
Either way, the Nets would need to bring in a true backup center – maybe a player like Chris Kaman, Samuel Dalembert or Nazr Mohammed, all of whom are unrestricted free agents.
Luckily in all this, money probably will not be a major restriction on what the Nets plan to do with the roster, though the franchise will face some pretty obvious limitations under the CBA.
And yes, bringing in a new coach is very important, but a coach is only as important as the players he has to execute his game plan, and the Nets still have some work to do with their roster if they want to continue to improve in the conference over the next few years.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.