Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
With the Brooklyn Nets spiraling back to looking like the New Jersey Nets, a change in personnel appears imminent.
Nets’ general manager Billy King has likely been on the phone non-stop with other teams as the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline looming.
The names Josh Smith and Ben Gordon have been connected to the Nets. Either one could likely help the team, but Brooklyn may only have the pieces to acquire one.
Smith is a power forward averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists per game for the Hawks as a starter. Meanwhile, Gordon comes off the bench for the Bobcats and averages 12.9 points and 2.3 assists per game as a guard.
These are two completely different players we are taking about here.
Smith would slide into the starting power forward role, with Reggie Evans shifting to the bench. Gordon could either start in a three-guard set with Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, which would shift Gerald Wallace to power forward, or he could come off the bench to provide offense at shooting guard while Johnson gets a breather.
The more likely scenario would be that Gordon plays with the “Bench Mob,” whose offensive output has been severely limited the past few weeks.
At this point, Smith appears to be the best option for the Nets.
The starters would be Williams, Johnson, Wallace, Smith and of course Brook Lopez. The second unit would then consist of C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans, Jerry Stackhouse when healthy or Mirza Teletovic, Evans and Andray Blatche.
Notice Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks were not included in this mix, since they are likely the two players that will be involved in a trade with Atlanta.
That’s a lot of shaking up, but remember that the “Bench Mob” played extremely well when Evans and Blatche teamed up with the second unit. If these two can control the paint, it would create more opportunities on the outside for Watson and Bogans.
The problem with this whole situation is that the Nets may be forced to part ways with their 2013 first-round draft pick. King may be reluctant to do so, which is where Gordon and the Bobcats come into play.
While the Smith trade may make the Nets a more complete team, a deal for Gordon would help improve the roster as well. Gordon is shooting 41.1 percent from three-point range, which would give the Nets an instant source of offense off the bench.
The regular starting five would remain in tact, and Gordon would play with Watson, Bogans and Blatche. But since a trade for Gordon would require the Nets to move Humphries, Teletovic and his proficiency for airballs will see a jump in his minutes, unless the Nets then use Brooks to acquire another power forward.
In a perfect world, the Nets could bring in both Smith and Gordon to both strengthen the starting lineup and the bench. Would it be possible for a straight-up swap of Humphries for Gordon and then a deal with Brooks and the first-round pick to the Hawks for Smith to both be executed? Aside from the miniscule return that type of deal would represent for a player of Smith’s caliber, the Nets probably could not make such a deal work since the team is over the salary cap and would need to incorporate a third or fourth team with cap space to make such a deal work.
Expect the rumor mill to be churning at a rapid pace in the coming days.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.