Wednesday , Feb , 11 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Decisions from the Swamp

Decisions from the SwampRod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe thought this would be a easier decision.

Here are the Nets. 24-29, sitting percentage points behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks have lost Michael Redd for the remainder of the season with torn ligaments in his left knee. Center Andrew Bogut has been in and out of the injury report, with the latest ailment being a stress fracture in his lower back. Bogut is expected to miss close to two months. With that being said, it looks like the Bucks could find themselves in the lottery soon enough.

If the Nets could steal some games against the higher competition, and keep beating the cellar dwellers, then they most certainly have a shot at the eighth seed. But, it could also go the other way. The Nets are five games under .500, and despite surpassing the expectations, that’s a reality you can’t turn away from as a general manager.

The Nets are playing better on a recent stretch after losing eight of nine. Though it hasn’t shown in the win column dramatically, some optimism has been restored upon Devin Harris getting back to his early season status. Simultaneously, Brook Lopez has continued to thrive in his “nobody notices me” rookie campaign.

Between Harris and Lopez, and their chemistry on the pick & roll, you wonder if you already have the pieces to build around for the future years, before adding a free agent. Here are the current stats for the surging duo:

Harris: 21.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.5 apg, .21 bpg, 1.6 spg
Lopez: 12.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, .8 apg, 1.85 bpg, .53 spg

Enter the Amar’e Stoudemire trade speculation, to go along with the uncertainty of Vince Carter’s status with the Nets.

It’s no secret, the Nets are among many teams with interest in Amar’e. More cause for speculation with New Jersey is the pieces they hold. Young talent, picks, and reasonable contracts. What the Nets hold is the basic formula for acquiring a frontline player in the waning days before the deadline. The young talent would most likely be Yi Jianlian, and Ryan Anderson.

Do the Nets give this serious consideration?

Not so fast.

There is a lot of other variables to consider here.

· Vince Carter’s future with the team. Lots of contenders could use a gifted perimeter shooter/closer of Carter’s stature. The list of interested parties includes the Spurs, Rockets, Mavericks, and possibly the Cavaliers. If the Nets had any thoughts on Amar’e, VC probably wouldn’t be going anywhere at least for this season.

· Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees. Doctors have predicted because of STAT’s size and dependency on his athleticism, he may need another surgical procedure within the next four to five years. Is that worth giving up picks, financial flexibility, and talented young players? It depends, is your name Isiah Thomas or Scott Layden?

· Chemistry. Would Stoudemire’s productivity drop without having Steve Nash to pass him the ball? Devin Harris is a rising star, but certainly a different breed of point guard compared to Nash. One who likes to score first, and use his quickness to get to the free throw line. Something to consider though, Harris is a very good pick & roll guard. Harris and Stoudemire could become a devastating combo on the pick & roll, especially with Vince Carter playing off the ball, getting open looks off of a screen and roll.

If you put a gun to my head, and demand a educated guess on what direction the Nets will go, I’ll say they won’t trade for Stoudemire, and Carter will be on the roster after the deadline.

Vince Carter won’t be had for a discount. Rod Thorn has made that clear, and he’s also turned down an offer to trade VC for Ron Artest. Thorn knows what he wants from a trade, and he knows Carter’s value. Carter may not be scoring 25 points a night anymore, but his stock is still very high. This was a year where pundits said Vince would want out, and he’s done the opposite by taking the young players under his wing and embracing the leadership role.

Even without a guy like Stoudemire, the Nets could make a playoff push with a core of Carter, Harris, and Lopez. The Nets franchise as a whole loses a lot of money, so if they see a reasonable shot at the postseason and additional income, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see the roster stay where it is until the summer.

Will the Nets make a significant move before the deadline? Let us know with a comment below.