Here is an interesting stat line to consider – 27.2 MPG, 19.2 PPG, 3.6 RBPG, 1.2 APG, 0.8 BPG, 49% FG, 63% FT.
No, those aren’t 6’3” guard Monta Ellis’ numbers; those are the New Jersey Nets’ 7’0″ center Brook Lopez’s 2011-12 averages.
It’s a huge reason why the team reportedly planning on targeting a number of strong rebounders in the upcoming offseason.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News is reporting that numerous sources believe the Nets will allow Kris Humphries to walk in free agency and plan on making a push to sign power forwards Kevin Garnett or Ersan Ilyasova this summer.
The Nets had a strong desire to trade for Dwight Howard before the deadline passed and hoped to sign him in the offseason if that were not possible, but their plans were destroyed when the big man opted into his contract for the 2012-13 campaign with the Orlando Magic.
Now they will have to build around Lopez and hopefully Deron Williams, who becomes a free agent after this season.
Garnett is a decent option, but he is a restricted FA and seriously considering hanging up his boots after the year is done at the age of 36. If he elects to stick around, the Nets would likely be hard-pressed to sign him considering they have little to no hopes of competing for a championship.
Ilysasova is a more realistic choice, considering he is just 24 years old and averaging career highs of 12.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.1 APG and 0.7 BPG while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and a solid 41.3 percent from beyond the arc.
While he’s not a huge upgrade over Humphries, he’s younger, carries less baggage and most likely will come at a cheaper cost than the $8 million the Nets are currently paying their PF.
Regardless of whom they choose, New Jersey knows they have to land a beastly rebounder to put in the frontcourt alongside of Lopez. They will simply get destroyed on the glass if they pair a seven-footer who can only grab 3.6 per game alongside another big who is scared of cleaning up the boards.
Expect them to splurge most of their cap space on finding one and trying to retain D-Will as they prepare for their move to Brooklyn.
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