This is the second post regarding the Lebron James free agency scramble. I graded the New York Knicks with a B- in Pt. 1. The best thing the Knicks have going for them is cap space, other than that it'll be tough to entice Lebron to pack up and move to NYC. In Pt. 2 I will cover the New Jersey Nets...
New Jersey Nets: 12-70
Finishing 49 games behind the league leading Cavaliers.
I think the Nets are the most interesting team with the hopes of landing Lebron. They were competing for the worst season in NBA history last season and they have a Billionaire owner. It's tough to put a finger on the Nets chances, but I will try.
The Nets have a very talented roster: Courtney Lee, Devin Harris and Yi JianLian are solid pieces and haven't even sniffed their ceiling yet. The Nets also have the best young big man in the league. Brook Lopez will have a hall of fame caliber career when it's said and done. What isn't there to like about this roster? You have a legitimate Point Guard in Devin Harris. An explosive Shooting Guard in Courtney Lee. A stretch four in Yi Jianlian and the next big thing at Center with Lopez. The only thing missing is that Small Forward who can take a game over... Enter Lebron James. This team would have the potential to flip that record around in three years. Oh, and they have the third pick in the NBA draft.
If the nets could shave $4 million dollars of cap space they could sign two max free agents. They trade Jianlian and the third pick to the Toronto Raptors for a sign and trade with Chris Bosh and this Nets team will be flirting with a 50 win season next year.
The Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to spend any money he can to make this team contenders. Expect him to throw the bank at any potential coach hoping to lure Lebron.
The Nets are expected to move out of New Jersey and into Brooklyn in a few years. So Lebron would get the New York appeal playing for a team that could actually be a contender.
One of Lebron's best friends, rapper Jay-Z, is a minority owner. I don't think Lebron will sign for this reason, they could just text to keep in touch. But, ESPN thinks there is no reason to play for the Nets if not for Jay-Z.
It is tough to find reasons for Lebron not to sign with the New Jersey Nets. Other than they are the Nets, of course. Their 12-70 record last season was a little misleading. This Nets team was competitive in most, if not all, of those 70 losses and adding a player of Lebron's caliber would have been the deciding factor in at least 25 of those defeats. This team only has 6 players on the roster next season. So they would have a bench comprised of NBA-DL players. But with a starting 5 that looks like Harris, Lee, James, Bosh/ JianLian, and Brook Lopez I could be their 6th man and the Nets would still win games. If they don't make a move for cap space to acquire another max, they could draft a player like DeMarcus Cousins or Even Turner to fill in for 6th man.
Even if the Nets can't get the cap space to sign another max contract this team, in my opinion, still has a realistic shot. They may have the best supporting cast of any team in the Lebron Sweepstakes.
Final Grade: B/A-
I give the Nets a B if they can't afford another max player.
But if they can finagle the cap space and acquire Chris Bosh it will bump their LBJ grade up to an A-.
If Lebron James makes a purely Basketball decision I would have to think the Nets are one of the most intriguing choices.