Those figures aren't right. Breakdown on the current roster from Hollinger:
I hope Mirza Teletovic is good, because signing him basically precludes the possibility of the Brooklyn Nets ever getting Dwight Howard.
The Nets announced the latest in a flurry of offseason moves Tuesday, starting with a midlevel exception deal for the Bosnian forward, moving on to a sign-and-trade deal for the Clippers' Reggie Evans and capping it off with the news that Deron Williams will return, reportedly on a five-year deal worth nearly $100 million.
All this is heady stuff for a team that went 22-44 this past season, after already coming to terms with free-agent forward Gerald Wallace and engineering a huge trade for Hawks guard Joe Johnson.
The Nets also are talking about trading for Howard, or re-signing free-agent center Brook Lopez and re-upping power forward Kris Humphries, and by the way, they'd like to use their biannual exception to perhaps bring in Jason Kidd at backup point guard.
But there are rules about this stuff, and the Nets are in the process of colliding with them before they can achieve those final steps. The Teletovic deal is for the non-taxpayers' midlevel exception, which caps the Nets' salaries at $74,307,000 for 2012-13. They cannot go over by one cent at any point.
Put in Williams at $17,177,193, Wallace at $8.9 million, Evans at $1.6 million, Teletovic at $5 million, Johnson at $19,752, 645 and MarShon Brooks at $1,160,040, and the Nets are in a pickle before they even pick up a phone to call Orlando.
That's because they also have three unsigned free agents they would like to keep (Gerald Green, Humphries and Lopez), and the league puts a "cap hold" on the salaries of free agents to prevent teams from using chicanery to circumvent the cap. The hold for Humphries is $12 million, the hold for Lopez $7,692,458 and the hold for Green $854,389.
The league also adds a charge for empty roster spots, at the rock-bottom minimum of $473,604, figuring you eventually intend to fill them in order to field a team. Add three "holds" to get the Brooklyn roster to 12 players, and that's another $1,420,8162.
So right now, the Nets have $76,159,802 on the books, and they can't do that -- again, the most they're allowed is $74,307,000.
This isn't necessarily a problem -- if the combined salaries for Humphries, Lopez and Green are $18,694,045 or less, everything is peachy. Alternatively, they could let Humphries walk and just spend on the other two. As for Kidd, the Nets would need to carve out another $1.9 million below to bring him aboard.
But it gets really tricky when you try to make room for the $19,536,360 owed Howard. Even if the Nets use all three free agents in a trade for Howard and throw in Brooks, that takes $21,706,887 off their books. Add in Howard's money and three roster holds to get the Nets back to 12 players, and they're adding $20,957,172 back on.
In other words, it cuts only $749,715 from the Nets' books and leaves them a heart-rending $1,103,807 shy of pulling off a Howard trade.
Of course, all this is predicated on the figures that have been reported to date. Perhaps Williams opted to take less money to give the Nets a bit more wiggle room, but everybody is reporting that's not the case. Perhaps Teletovic's deal isn't for quite the full midlevel exception. Or perhaps the Evans deal won't go through.
But as things have been reported, the Nets are a few ducats short of pulling off any Howard trade, let alone a good Howard trade that might actually entice Orlando. Brooklyn can't take back any other contracts, not even a Chris Duhon- or Quentin Richardson-sized one. Because recently signed players can't be packaged in a trade for two months, the absolute best Brooklyn can offer is sign-and-trading its three free agents, Brooks and three first-round picks. And I greatly doubt that trumps the other offers that will be coming Orlando's way.
Even that sliver of hope goes out the window the second anybody signs Lopez to an offer sheet, which will preclude the Nets from sign-and-trading him to Orlando.
With Brooklyn also being capped out for the foreseeable future, it pretty much closes the door on Howard going there as a free agent in 2013, which was his other endgame.
In the end, though, the problem isn't with the extra $1.1 million; it's with the extra $20 million. When the Nets had a ton of cap room, it appeared they could appease the Magic by taking a bunch of bad contracts off their hands in a Howard trade. That ship now has sailed, and as a result, so has much of Orlando's incentive to trade with the Nets.
Even without Howard, a difficult dance remains for the Nets. Getting Humphries, Lopez and Green to all re-up for a combined $18.7 million will be difficult, and it might force the Nets to let Humphries walk. Getting them to re-up for just $16.8 million and reopen the biannual exception for Kidd will be virtually impossible, which is probably why Kidd now is looking at Dallas and New York. And I'm not sure what imaginary exception they plan on using to get Ersan Ilyasova.
After all that, the Nets will be filling the rest of the roster with training camp filler, offering only the rock-bottom minimum to second-round pick Tyshawn Taylor and two other roster players.
So like I said, I hope Teletovic is good. His numbers from Europe are nice, and it's possible he'll be replacing Humphries at power forward. Oh, and he's making it impossible to get Dwight Howard.