Finding holes on a 12-70 team is like trying to find fish and birds on the Gulf Coast covered by oil -– they’re everywhere.
But the Nets filled two of their holes since the season ended. They got an owner who spends (Mikhail Prokhorov) and hired a coach who actually is a coach (Avery Johnson). They figure to fill more needs between this week and next.
The Nets are solid at center and point guard with Brook Lopez and Devin Harris, respectively. They need a power forward, small forward, backup point guard and center, shooters, guys who can defend, who rebound, competitive guys, toughness and winners.
All of that will be hard to find but the Nets have some means with three picks in Thursday's NBA Draft and roughly $26 million for free agency, starting July 1.
Dealing with the draft now –- and don’t rule out a Draft Day deal. The Nets have made four in the 10 years since Rod Thorn became president, including the last two when Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter were traded.
If history repeats, Harris could be on shaky ground. The Nets, we’re hearing, still want to shed salary to have more money for free agency.
Otherwise, the Nets have essentially three first-round picks –- pick No. 3, 27 and 31 (the top pick in Round 2). There’s always the possibility for the Nets to buy another second-round pick - remember, they have money now - or trade for one. They also need bodies.
As of this writing, five Nets have guaranteed contracts. Chris Douglas-Roberts, who had a team option for about $854,000, will be traded to the Bucks for a future second-round pick. Kris Humphries has a player option for $3.2 million, although he's like likely to pick it up. And Keyon Dooling has a team options that if it isn't picked up saves $3.3 million. So they won't pick it up.
Assuming the Sixers don’t pass on Evan Turner -– the Nets will take a frontcourt player with the No. 3 choice and will begin addressing some more holes.
Here are the candidates and the things the Nets are weighing:
Derrick Favors: He’s young, athletic and considered a prototypical power forward by everyone in the Nets’ offices. But he’s only 18 and needs time and room to grow. Despite this awful campaign, Prokhorov is said to expect results immediately, as in a playoff berth. So the Nets may not have time to wait for him.
But it’s a tough call because he could become the type of power forward the Nets have wanted and missed since Kenyon Martin’s departure.
If they take him he can learn and grow on the job, and maybe even learn behind an All-Star caliber power forward should the Nets get lucky in free agency. They’re expected to pursue Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and David Lee.
But if the Nets get shut out, having Favors would give them a power forward of the future since Yi Jianlian is not in the long-term plans.
Wesley Johnson: He’s a safe pick since he will be 23 when the season starts. He can start at small forward, where the Nets have been using a committee since trading Jefferson.
He has a good body, can shoot and score. But small forward is another position the Nets hope to address in free agency where someone named LeBron James COULD be had.
It’s more likely the Nets wind up with Rudy Gay. But if they take Johnson here, they could put more emphasis on making sure they get a power forward in free agency and later in the draft.
DeMarcus Cousins: He’s not as safe because of concerns about his weight and maturity, but he could play now. Cousins will be 20 when the season starts and already has an impressive frame that he uses to carve out space inside.
The Kentucky big man would give the Nets the rebounding and interior toughness they need. But he may play too much inside, which the Nets don’t necessarily want because they already have Brook Lopez.
You can’t have too much size or rebounding. If not for the concerns, he might be the best choice.
Greg Monroe: This skilled big man quietly has remained in the picture and would cover a couple of needs. He can play power forward and backup center and be able to contribute now. He is a good passer for his size. But the Nets probably won’t use the No. 3 pick on him.
They may trade down for him and try to get either another pick in the middle of the the draft to nab a point guard or try and use someone already on their roster in a deal to open up more cash.
On the outside is Baylor big man Ekpe Udoh who is athletic, can block shots and has a tremendous reach. He’s not as skilled or advanced as the guys ahead of him and would be part of a trade.
The Nets still have picks 27 and 31. There will be players for them, but two they like –- Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe and Florida guard Dominique Jones may be gone. That’s why it’s possible they could try and get something in the 15-25 range. Otherwise big men Craig Brackins, Tiny Gallon and Gani Lawal and shooter Jordan Crawford would be among the players the Nets could take with those two picks.
The next step in the rebuilding of the Nets happens in Thursday's NBA Draft, the precursor to the July 1 main event.
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Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)