Nets may gain by stars moving West

The Brooklyn Nets have had their share of lavish press conferences over the last couple years -- introducing the likes of Deron Williams, “Brooklyn’s Backcourt,” Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry and Jason Kidd.

But in light of the latest reports that the Houston Rockets are trying to put together the NBA’s latest “Big 3,” all I can think about are the lavish press conferences that never happened -- Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and LeBron James.

It all began in the “Summer of 2010,” when the Nets hoped to land LeBron, only to end up landing Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro instead. “The Melodrama” soon followed. And then, finally, the worst one of them all, “The Dwightmare.”

So much promise. So much anguish. So much false hope.

But you can’t blame the Nets for trying. They’ve definitely tried. They’ve spent. They’ve put themselves in the conversation.

They’re no longer the 12-70 laughingstock they used to be.

And yet I can’t help but think about this paragraph from ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon from his blog post about the Dallas Mavericks and their billionaire owner, Mark Cuban:

After studying the new CBA, Cuban’s fear was that the Mavs would become what the Brooklyn Nets are now, an old team with a bloated payroll and no real shot of winning a title and extremely limited avenues of upgrading the roster.

Cuban has tried to avoid that. He just re-acquired Tyson Chandler, Dirk Nowitzki is going to take the "Tim Duncan discount." And now he’s in a position with max cap space to chase the likes of James and Anthony in free agency.

Maybe he gets them. Maybe he doesn’t. The Nets have next-to-zero chance. Their money is essentially tied up until 2016-17, when they’ll likely pursue Kevin Durant, among others. But this time, they’ll have a $1 billion arena, a massive market and, as long as Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t sell the team, a seemingly endless budget with which to convince Durant to call Brooklyn home.

Until that happens, the Nets are, as Cuban called them, “stuck.”

But maybe there’s hope for this old, capped out team after all.

If LeBron or Carmelo did go East to West, that would certainly make things interesting.

While it’s unknown what the rest of the offseason will bring, it’s conceivable that the Nets -- assuming they can keep Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez regain health and return to form -- will have one of the best rosters in the conference.

That’s not really saying much. And who knows if they could beat Chicago, Indiana or someone else in the playoffs.

But it seems like they’d have a chance.

It sure would be something if Anthony, Howard and James -- three players the Nets desperately coveted -- ended up in Houston.

The Nets and their fans probably wouldn’t mind -- even if it served as a painful reminder of what could’ve been in some way, shape or form.

By the way, the Nets are having another lavish press conference on Thursday -- at the site of their new practice facility.