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Nets way over salary cap, limited in free agency

Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King introduces his

Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King introduces his team's new backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson during a press conference. (July 13, 2012) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The approach will be vastly different from exactly a year ago, when the Nets' hopes were tied to point guard Deron Williams' future. Would he stay or bolt home to the Lone Star State?

This year, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce expected to join Williams sometime after July 10 (when trades can be announced), free agency doesn't seem as pressing.

Good thing, because unlike their dip into the free-agent pool heading into their first season in Brooklyn -- when they were awash with salary-cap space and considered a potential landing spot for Dwight Howard -- there's not much the Nets can do this year.

For the most part, general manager Billy King's hands are tied. The Nets are capped out and way over the NBA's luxury-tax threshold, making it virtually impossible for King to pull off any kind of major free-agent coup.

So with little wiggle room financially, the Nets might have to get creative now and lean on the recruiting skills of their new head coach, adding yet another on-the-fly task to Jason Kidd's on-the-job training.

"We have our taxpayer midlevel, we have our [veteran] minimum," King said after the draft Thursday. "So we've got some guys we've targeted. Jason and I have been talking, and I gave him a list of guys to call at 12:01 come the first [of July]."

Kidd didn't have to wait that long to start the pitch on one free agent in particular: Andray Blatche. Blatche, who appeared in every game the Nets played in 2012-13, has been working out at their facility recently, and he has said he'd like to return. Re-signing Blatche would strengthen the Nets' reserve front line, which includes rebounding machine Reggie Evans and rookie Mason Plumlee, whom the Nets selected with the No. 22 pick Thursday.

C.J. Watson is expected to opt out of the final season of his two-year deal, creating a need at backup point guard. King has said he plans to bring in someone to compete with second-year man Tyshawn Taylor.

Regarding the mini-midlevel exemption King mentioned, most of that is expected to go to Bojan Bogdanovic, who's been playing in Europe and getting more seasoning the last two years. King said the day after the Nets' season-ending loss to the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs that they will look to bring in the 6-6 swingman next season.

Bogdanovic, 24, who hails from Bosnia, has a year left on his pact with Istanbul-based Fenerbahce. There is an NBA buyout in his contract, but that shouldn't preclude the Nets from coughing up the necessary cash to release him; owner Mikhail Prokhorov has demonstrated that he is not afraid to spend money.

Bogdanovic, a second-round pick whose rights were acquired from the Timberwolves during the 2011 draft, would fulfill a need, giving the Nets an infusion of offense off the bench behind Pierce at small forward.

But the Nets are going to need some serious salesmanship to fill their bench with quality talent. They hope the allure of a possible title run will be enough to entice a few of the league's veterans to hop on board the proverbial train to Brooklyn.

New York Sports