Five questions facing the Nets this offseason
MIAMI - A season that began with so much promise ended far too quickly as far as the Nets are concerned. With an aging roster built specifically to win now and zero cap space, it will be yet another interesting offseason for general manager Billy King. The Nets presently don't have a pick in next month's draft, so unless King swings a trade to acquire one, or another player for that matter, Brooklyn's retooling will have to come via free agency. The Nets have several burning questions that will be answered in the coming weeks. Among them:
IS KEVIN GARNETT RETIRING?
Garnett has one year left on his deal valued at $12 million and the ball is going to be in his court on whether he wants to return. He hasn't hinted at his future all season, not even after missing 19 games with back spams may have him contemplating hanging up his sneakers. In looking at what they surrendered to pry the soon-to-be 38-year-old away from the Celtics and how those first-round picks could help restock the roster, the logical thinking is the Nets gave up way too much for someone who averaged career lows in almost every statistical category.
But Garnett was never brought to Brooklyn to be an offensive force. It was all about helping change the culture and being a mentor for the Nets' big men. His presence helped the growth of Brook Lopez before he got hurt in December and surprising rookie Mason Plumlee.
WILL PAUL PIERCE BE ONE AND DONE IN BROOKLYN?
King twice has said publicly he hasn't opened up talks with Pierce or his representatives about a possible contract extension. The Nets hold Pierce's Bird Rights and can offer the 36-year-old more money than he'd be able to command elsewhere. He found a comfort zone at the power forward spot since shifting from small forward Jan. 2 and showed he can still hit a big shot or two. But he's a good complementary piece at this point in his career. He brought a much-needed winning mentality to the Nets could use another year or two of his laser-like focus.
WILL DERON WILLIAMS EVER BE COMPLETELY HEALTHY AND IS THERE A POSSIBILITY HE MAY BE MOVED?
n February, when the Nets were in his old stomping ground in Utah playing the Jazz, Williams suggested to a local reporter that he might have offseason surgery on his ankles. He's been injury-prone these past two seasons, getting countless pain-killing injections in both ankles. He takes at least one spill a game that leaves him hobbled.
Trading Williams wouldn't be easy because of his injury history and the three years and $61 million remaining on the max contract he signed two summers ago. But there were rumblings that the Rockets inquired previously about a potential deal of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik for Williams, but the Nets balked. A fresh start for all three of them might not be a bad thing.
WILL THEY RE-SIGN SHAUN LIVINGSTON?
Remember when everyone thought Andrei Kirilenko's contract was a steal? Turns out the real bargain-basement deal was Livingston's one-year, $884,293 pact. He's fully regained his explosiveness back after that 2007 knee injury and King said he's one of the team's top offseason priorities. When Nets coach Jason Kidd inserted Livingston into the starting lineup to alleviate some of Williams' duties, Brooklyn took off. His length made him one of the team's best and most versatile defenders. His ability to post up and operate on the low blocks gave the Nets another backcourt dimension.
DOES BROOK LOPEZ FIT IN KIDD'S SMALL-BALL SCHEME?
Much has been made about the Nets changing things up and flourishing offensively after Lopez's season-ending foot injury in December. But when Lopez is healthy and right, his low post skills and refined jump shot provide the Nets with a dimension that's rare in the league nowadays: a 7-footer who can create havoc in the lane. Lopez surely has to improve defensively, but if the Nets had him in their series with the Heat, he might've caused a problem for Miami given its lack of size inside.