Yesterday, the Nets were involved in a four team deal that sent Courtney Lee to Houston, while receiving Troy Murphy. The other two teams involved in the deal were the Pacers (who got Darren Collison and James Posey) and the New Orleans Hornets (who got Trevor Ariza). I, like most Nets fans that I have heard from, really like the deal for a number of reasons. So I just wanted to give my thoughts on the deal.
All salary numbers coming from the great ShamSports.com
To me, this is most important and my favorite aspect of the deal. The Nets started yesterday with $14,547,681 in cap space (by my count) for the 2010-2011 season. They used up $10,615,613 on it to get Murphy (Murphy’s contract minus Courtney Lee’s contract), only giving them right around $3 million to work with for this up coming season. However, what makes this deal work is that Murphy is in the final year of his contract. At the start of next season, the Nets are going to have both Murphy and Humphries coming off the books, plus they are saving what Courtney Lee would be making next year ($2,225,093). This means that they are going to have somewhere in the area of $15 to $16 million worth of cap space to work with next year, when a certain indecisive forward in Denver becomes a free agent. Even if the Nets don’t make a run at Carmelo, they have a lot of money to continue adding pieces to their roster. In addition to the cap space next year, Murphy’s contract is going to be very attractive to teams at the trade deadline, and if Favors is playing well enough, I can see the Nets flipping Murphy for some young talent/trade exceptions/draft picks.
From a roster standpoint, the Nets now have a power forward who can come in right away and be “the guy” at the spot. Murphy, the New Jersey native, is going to be the opening day starter, no question about it. So what does that do to the rest of the front court? It makes Derrick Favors the back-up, and this is probably the best scenario for him in terms of development. He is still going to get minutes, but since he is coming off the bench he will be going up against team’s second unit. Not a real big difference, but it makes that transition from college to the pros a little bit easier. Plus, it shields him from the “he’s a bust” cries. The expectations for Favors coming off the bench aren’t going to be as high as they would be if he was the starter from day one. Murphy’s expiring deal comes into play in this aspect as well, since he will only be blocking Favors for a year, maybe even less. Most other guys the Nets were looking for would probably have demanded a 2 to 3 year deal from the Nets. If Favors develops in a year (which I think is probable) that would lead to a tough situation. However, where things stands now, Murphy can hand the reigns over to Favors after a season.
For the rest of the power forwards, the minutes are going to be limited. Humphries is only going to be getting a few minutes here and a few minutes there, and while he may not be happy about that (he had a chance to earn the starting spot before this deal went down), this is where he is most effective. He can go in for a few minutes, create havoc, and then come out when Murphy/Favors are rested. As for Sean May, this means he might not make the roster (and if he does, expect Humphries to be dealt somehow). Finally, the acquisition means Johan Petro is going to be backing up Brook Lopez exclusively.
On the outside, the departure of Courtney Lee clears up the huge logjam that was there up until this trade. Terrence Williams and Anthony Morrow are probably going to do battle for the starting SG spot (with Anthony Morrow probably winning out). At the SF spot, you have Travis Outlaw as the starter with Damion James and Quinton Ross backing him up.
The acquisition of Troy Murphy also changes the expected playing style of the Nets, in my opinion. Don’t expect to see the type of up and down game we were looking at having with Derrick Favors as the starter. As NetsDaily stated last night:
Murphy is many things but fleet of foot is not one of them. Put him and Lopez on the floor at the same time and things could slow down a bit…or maybe more than a bit.
The fact that the Nets won’t run isn’t really a bad thing, and it actually fits Avery Johnson’s style a whole lot better. In his three full seasons as the Maverick’s head coach, the highest Pace Factor (estimate of the number of possessions a team has in a game) the team had was 90.2 in 2007-2008, ranking them 24th in the league (they were ranked 27th and 28th his other two years with paces under 90). That doesn’t mean Avery isn’t a good offensive coach, quite the opposite. The worst his team ever did in terms of Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions) was in 2007-2008 when his team posted a Offensive Rating of 111.1 (for reference, the Nets’ Offensive Rating last year was 100.6), ranking them 8th (they were ranked 1st and 2nd his other two years).
In the half court, Avery has experience with a stretch four. No, Troy Murphy isn’t as good as Dirk Nowitzki (not even close), but it is important that Avery has experience (and success) working with a stretch four. You also may see a lot of 4 out offensive sets, plays where the Nets have four players on the perimeter (Devin, Morrow, Murphy, and Outlaw), with Brook Lopez inside. What they can do is toss the ball into Brook, and work off how the defense reacts. They don’t send a double, Brook works one-on-one in the post. If they do double, Brook kicks it outside to a guy who can knock down the shot (or at least force rotation to get an open shot). This is the type of offense that the Orlando Magic have been using so well.
If they want to run more standard sets, they have plenty of options. The pick and roll, is still there, and there are a variety of options out of the pick and roll. You have the standard pick and roll with Brook Lopez and Devin Harris (the court is going to be really spread out with Murphy as a shooting threat), the pick and pop with Troy Murphy, and a play I like to call “Pick And Roll Plus Replace.” This is a play that worked for the Nets when Yi was playing well, and it uses Troy Murphy’s skillset very nicely (hopefully Tom Barrise can convince Avery to use it). I’ve looked at this play in the past, but here is an Xs and Os breakdown of the play, created with the use of FastDraw (read it right to left).
Devin Harris and Brook Lopez run a pick and roll with Troy Murphy on the wing. The pick and roll action sucks in Murphy’s defender, and Harris kicks it out to Murphy. Murphy is a good enough shooter to force a closeout. If his defender closes out too late, or not hard enough, Murphy knocks down the jumper. If he he closes out of control, Murphy blows right past him on the drive. Here is what it looks like live:
In addition to the pick and roll game, Brook Lopez and Troy Murphy can run the high low game all day long with Murphy on the high post and Brook on the low post. Murphy gets the ball, and if he is open he can shoot it. If not, he dumps it in to Brook and lets him work.
Yeah, so you probably guessed that I am a fan of this deal. It works out in so many ways, from the financials, to the roster breakdown, and most importantly, to the play on the court. I still don’t know if the Nets are going to be able to compete for a playoff spot, but they got a lot closer to being a surprise team who can make a run.