After spending the previous two years acquiring two of the team's current starters, the Nets were merely spectators at the NBA trade deadline Thursday, remaining on the sideline on a day when no major trades were made.
The Nets were one of the teams in pursuit of Atlanta power forward Josh Smith, the biggest name said to be available for the right price. The Nets' reported package of Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a first-round pick apparently wasn't to Hawks general manager Danny Ferry's liking.
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The Hawks ended up keeping Smith after reportedly nixing a three-way deal with Milwaukee and Orlando.
General manager Billy King said earlier in the week that there was a 10-percent chance he'd swing a trade, which differed from the two previous seasons. In 2011, once he was unable to pry Carmelo Anthony from Denver and the Knicks got him, King landed Deron Williams from Utah. A year ago, King acquired Gerald Wallace from Portland in exchange for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and the Nets' 2012 first-round pick, which the Trail Blazers used to select Damian Lillard at No. 6 overall.
But no such wheeling and dealing took place this year. The Nets (33-22) will have to go on as currently constructed, continuing their playoff push Friday night when the Rockets (30-26) come to town.
The Nets will do so with a banged-up Williams, who was expected to get cortisone shots in both ankles Thursday, a procedure he said was previously scheduled and not the result of a setback.
Besides dealing with those ankle issues, he's fought through wrist, elbow, shoulder and quadriceps injuries.
"The reality of it is he's not going to be 100 percent this year, and I think that's the thing that a lot of people are having difficulty grasping," interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said Thursday on ESPN Radio "He's playing dinged up, his ankles are not good at all, and that wrist has been a problem for him all year."
Williams' key stats are down across the board after he signed a max contract worth nearly $100 million last summer. In defending him, Carlesimo again took umbrage with the point guard's critics, as he did earlier this week when he said he was befuddled by the negative commentary assessing his season.
"People are fond of [saying], 'Look at his numbers compared to this and compared to that,' " Carlesimo said. " . . . It would be scary to think of playing a game without Deron Williams."