So much for the idea that even the Brooklyn Nets are afraid of the luxury tax.
Despite the bleak picture painted in last week's story about the forthcoming tax and what it will mean for all 30 teams, it appears Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will forge ahead with his blank-check policy for now. Never mind the fact that they're already in line for a major tax payment next season that will grow even if they don't add another big-name player – $22.6 million with the nine players currently under contract (12 is the minimum) and an overall price tag of $108.1 million.
As first reported by ESPN.com, the Nets – who have slipped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference after losing six of their past 10 games – are considering a deal for Atlanta forward Josh Smith that, so long as it was a two-team deal, would likely include Nets forward Kris Humphries ($12 million salary this season and next). And considering the free-agent-to-be, Smith, recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he sees himself as a max contract player, such a move would obviously be made with the understanding that this would likely be a short-term rental situation unless such a deal is offered. The potential price tag at that point, it's safe to say, would rival that of the Lakers (grand total of $172.8 million for next season with just 11 players).
According to a person familiar with the Nets' strategy, the team's pitch isn't nearly as aggressive as the report indicated. But the fact that they had that conversation with Atlanta shows that Brooklyn may be willing to pay an even steeper price to keep this season from slipping away. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because trade talks are kept private.
There was a similar sign that came earlier as well, as the Nets, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, were among the teams making a push for Memphis' Rudy Gay before he was traded to Toronto on Jan. 31. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.
Gay is in line to earn $17.8 million next season and he has a player option for the 2014-15 campaign in which he would be paid $19.3 million – financial figures that would typically make him the highest paid player on his team but, in Brooklyn, would put him third beneath Joe Johnson ($23.1 million that season) and Deron Williams ($19.7). The Grizzlies had little interest in the Nets' offer because they had no interest in taking Humphries.
Brooklyn is all in, but at what cost?
USA Today | Feb 13