Trade Carter? The Nets may have to be sellers
ATLANTA – Effort wasn’t the problem for the Nets in their loss to Toronto Wednesday, so that’s definitely a step forward from what happened in Oklahoma City. But you can’t help but notice that the Nets keep taking steps backward.
They’ve lost eight of 10 to drop six games below .500 and there’s a good chance the Nets won’t see breakeven again. By losing all these games, the Nets also have dropped out of the top eight, even falling behind the Knicks and into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Yes, the Nets only are one-half game behind eighth-place Milwaukee, which you would expect will lose more now that Michael Redd is out for the season. But the Nets also are just two games out of 14th place, so these nine games before the February 19 trade deadline – starting with tomorrow against the Hawks – are critical for the Nets and their future. Eight of those games are against teams with better records and six are on the road. You probably get where this is going.
It’s about what the Nets should do by the deadline. Earlier this season, when they were hovering around fifth and sixth place they couldn’t really consider trading Vince Carter. They may have to start now. His trade value maybe at its highest considering how well he’s playing at 32 and what some teams think they need to get them over the hump. What contender other than the Celtics or Lakers wouldn’t want someone like Carter?
The Cavaliers are interested, that’s known. You could see Orlando being intrigued, although GM Otis Smith said some negative things about the hometown product two summers ago. The Rockets and Mavericks could also use help back there, although you wonder if Jason Kidd would vouch for Carter after he was one of the reasons he wanted out.
Then there are the teams that could try and block others from getting a player like Carter, maybe a New Orleans.
The point is the Nets should be fielding many calls in the next few weeks, especially if they keep going backward. Jarvis Hayes could help contending teams. Eduardo Najera can also.
The Nets have pieces that other teams may want and more than ever they have to think about what makes sense. Are they playing for today or next season or 2010?
Dealing Carter would open up an additional $17.3 million for 2010, especially if they were to move him for players whose contracts expire after next season. But then the question is who would want to come here if the Nets are not competitive? Certainly, they’re more competitive with Carter than without him. To which, the Devil’s advocate would say how good will Carter be in his 13th season, pushing 34 years old?
This scenario has been and continues to be discussed by the Nets’ hierarchy and might be spoken about more because of the team’s losing ways.
By the way, on a side note, did you ever think Yi would be missed this much?
You had to expect the Nets would hit the skids at some point. Their schedule has been a bear and the road ahead isn’t easy either. If we look ahead a little further, March features nine road games, including a West Coast trip, and 13 games overall with teams with better records than the Nets, including two with the Cavs and one each with the Lakers, Nuggets, Blazers and Hornets.
That’s what made Monday’s game at Oklahoma City and yesterday’s against the Raptors big ones for the Nets. You have to win the games you should win if you want to be a playoff team.
The way things are going, the Nets probably won’t be a playoff team. And if they continue going the way they are over the next few weeks, Net officials may have to make another bold move. Their phones should be busy.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)