Unfortunately for the Nets, they will not have the opportunity to play the Orlando Magic every night.
A dominant fourth quarter propelled Brooklyn past Orlando 97-77 Monday night and completed a four-game season sweep of the Magic. The Nets won in blowout fashion to snap a two-game skid but some of the same issues are still present.
For starters, the Nets are receiving very little from the power forward spot. Reggie Evans, the current starter, is known for his rebounding prowess as opposed to his offensive efficiency. Despite playing alongside Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez, Evans manages just 3.3 ppg.
Kris Humphries, the New Jersey incumbent, has seen his role dwindle in Brooklyn. Whether the additions of new talent, a big contract, or personal problems off the court have any effect on his play is unknown, but he has underachieved.
Humphries spent the majority of his time in Newark overachieving, which earned him a 2-year, $24 million contract. He averaged a double-double during the 2011-12 season, but his numbers are down to 6.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg.
Humphries is also averaging roughly 13 minutes less floor time in the Barclays Center than he saw in The Rock.
Despite an abundance of talent elsewhere on the roster, the Nets simply aren’t getting the production at the four position. Such was the case against the Magic, when Evans and Humphries combined to shoot 0-of-6 from the field. The pair did grab 17 rebounds, however.
The Nets once again had trouble limiting the opposing frontcourt, though.
Nikola Vucevic, who replaced Dwight Howard, scored 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting while Glen Davis added 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. And even though the Magic lost by 20 points, they outscored the Nets, 38-36 in the paint.
Again, the Nets will not have the luxury of playing the 14-30 Magic every night.
P.J. Carlesimo even went out of his way to single out Lopez’s performance against Vucevic.
“I didn’t hear the (All-Star) chant,” said Carlesimo, referring to the Barclays Center supporting Lopez despite the snub. “If the way he played defensively and turning the ball over was the result, then I don’t want to hear them.”
For Billy King, the answer at power forward likely resides outside the organization.
The much-maligned Mirza Teletovic is the clearcut best offensive option Carlesimo has, but like Avery Johnson, neither coach seems to have much faith in his defensive abilities.
Looking around the league, here are the most likely power forward to find a new home:
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz
Millsap is a best-case scenario for multiple teams, not just the Nets. With one year and $8.6 million remaining on his contract, the Nets could financially make the deal work and would likely part with MarShon Brooks to sweeten the deal for Utah. While Utah is 24-21, the Jazz boast four capable big men in need of minutes. Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter make Millsap expendable considering he will likely move on from Utah. The 6-foot-8 forward averages 14.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
Smith is likely available as Danny Ferry probably wants to unload him. Smith makes a lot of money ($13.2 million) and has never proven reliable. Best comparison: more athletic Andray Blatche in a forward’s body. The 27-year old forward might very expect a max contract following the season. Pass.
Nene, Washington Wizards
Nene is always an interesting case because he’s what mot teams crave, he just unfortunately possesses a brutal contract and consistent injury concerns. For 12.3 ppg and 6.5 rpg, Nene is not worth the $52 million he is still owed over four years.
Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are looking every which way to unload salary, and Randolph is on a 4-year, $66 million contract. Despite being 31-years old, Randolph would fit the Nets’ needs. He’s better suited to play in a half-court offense and he is good on the boards. Randolph averages 15.8 ppg and 11.6 rpg.