By Eddie Castro
This November, basketball will finally make its way to our borough. The team, formerly known as the New Jersey Nets, will be on their way to the Barclays Center. In coming to Brooklyn, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has not been shy about flexing his power. Two weeks ago, the Nets made their first blockbuster trade of the off-season adding “sharpshooter” Joe Johnson. Alongside Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson may very well be the best shooting guard out there. Johnson gives the team something they did not have since their playoff runs back in 2003-04, the ability to kick the ball out to a dynamic shooter. Whether it is in transition or simple pull-up jumpers, Johnson has scoring ability and will complement very well in the backcourt with point guard Deron Williams, who re-signed with Brooklyn to a 5-year/ $95 million dollar contract. Not a bad way to start building your team upon coming to Brooklyn. In this era of NBA Basketball, many teams are building their own “Big Three.” Prokhorov seems to even be willing to go over the team’s luxury tax if it means bringing a championship-caliber team to Brooklyn.
The biggest bullet item that was on the Nets’ to-do list was to convince their best player, Deron Williams, to re sign with the team. Williams reportedly narrowed down his teams to the Nets and his hometown team, the Dallas Mavericks. According to Williams himself, the Joe Johnson trade really played a huge role in him re-signing with the Nets, not to mention his close relationship with head coach Avery Johnson. “I really felt like I was going to be a Maverick. It would’ve been awesome to play for my home team and in front of my family, but I felt in terms of a better chance of winning, this just seemed right,” Williams said in an interview. Williams posted his decision on Twitter saying “Made a hard decision today” with a link to the Brooklyn Nets logo. With two star players on their way to Brooklyn, the Nets may not be finished with their off-season shopping.
Since the beginning of last year, Dwight Howard has been linked to rumors about his desire to play for the Nets. There have been many trade talks back and forth involving Howard in a Nets uniform. Now it seems to have taken a twist as Orlando has had other discussions with teams like the Rockets, Hawks and Lakers regarding “Superman.” He (Howard) has made it very obvious that he wants to be dealt to the Nets, but it appears for that to even have a slight chance of happening, it looks like it will involve a structure of a 3- or 4- team trade. With any trade that happens, the Nets were willing to give up players like Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks, and even future 1st-round draft picks if it means them landing Howard. This has been a Brett Favre-type of wait where we figure out whether Howard would remain a member of the Orlando Magic or elsewhere.
As we go to press, it has been reported that the Nets are “moving on” thus ending their pursuit of Howard. Nets management wasted no time as they re-signed both Lopez and Humphries to multiyear deals. The “Big Three” talk will have to wait for now. The Nets can still be a contending team with the additions of Johnson and Williams in the Eastern Conference. If there happens to be a trade in place that will bring Howard to Brooklyn, it won’t happen this year. Even if it would have gone through, would the league have approved it? Since the addition of a hard salary cap, the owners seem very concerned with superstars asserting themselves and joining the same team (a’la the Miami Heat), deteriorating the planned “competitive balance”.
Last year, the Lakers had a trade that would’ve landed them Chris Paul but the league rejected the deal and the Clippers snuck up under the Lakers’ nose and got Paul. We continue to wait to see how the Dwight Howard saga unfolds during the remainder of the summer. It appears that the Lakers are now in discussions with Orlando about a possible trade which will most likely involve Lakers’ center Andrew Bynum.
As I reached this milestone on story #100, on behalf of me and my family, I want to thank the Our Time Press family and all the readers throughout Brooklyn for their everlasting support. As I look back on these 3 glorious years, I remember the days of this 20-year-old fresh faced kid playing basketball for money to help my mom with the bills before my arrival at OTP. I’m very gracious and blessed to have bloomed with my writing skills as well as the ongoing support I received throughout the Bed-Stuy area upon distributing weekly issues. This is truly a highlight in my life that I will cherish forever. Again to all, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you very, very much. Love is sports, and with sports there will always be love.