WHAT IT MEANS: The Dwightmare is over -- for now.
The Nets agreed to terms with restricted free agent center Brook Lopez on a four-year, $60 million max contract, effectively ending their pursuit of Magic superstar Dwight Howard, a league source told ESPNNewYork.com. Lopez can’t be traded until Jan. 15 once he signs his contract, per CBA rules.
The Nets worked feverishly to try and get a blockbuster deal done with the Magic, but were unable to by their self-imposed 6 p.m. ET Wednesday deadline. Facing pressure that Lopez would sign an offer sheet with Portland or Charlotte, the Nets decided to move on from Howard -- at least for the time being, anyway.
After making their re-signings of Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace official earlier Wednesday, the Nets also made the Joe Johnson trade official.
The six-time All-Star guard was acquired from Atlanta in exchange for Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro, Houston’s 2013 first-round pick and the Brooklyn’s second-round draft pick in 2017.
The Nets will introduce both Williams and Johnson on Friday at noon at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
THE FALLOUT: Howard would’ve been the ultimate prize. The 26-year-old center averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks per game for Orlando last season and protects the paint like no other big man in the NBA. Howard wanted to go to Brooklyn, but the Nets didn’t have enough assets to make a deal happen. So, instead of continuing their pursuit of D-12, they elected to move on.
The Nets aren’t as talented a team with Lopez in the middle as they would’ve been with Howard, but they’re certainly deeper and kept a bevy of assets (sixth man MarShon Brooks and multiple first-round draft picks) that they would’ve had to trade to Orlando to get him.
Give GM Billy King and assistant GM Bobby Marks credit for going all-in to get Howard after locking up Williams long-term. They came up short, but managed to put together an extremely talented roster that -- at least on paper -- looks like a certain playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
And praise also has to go to owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who has essentially given King and Marks a blank checkbook to put together a formidable contender as the team moves into its first season at the $1 billion Barclays Center.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Nets currently have five players officially under contract: Williams, Johnson, Wallace, Brooks and Tyshawn Taylor.
Moves that have yet to be made official include the signing of Mirza Teletovic; the acquisition of Reggie Evans in a sign-and-trade deal; the signing of Jerry Stackhouse and the re-signing of Lopez.
Assuming all those moves go through, the Nets would have nine players under contract.
They have Bird rights on unrestricted free agent Kris Humphries, meaning they can exceed the cap to sign him or could include him in a sign-and-trade deal.
But they don’t have Bird rights on unrestricted free agent Gerald Green, and as a result, can only offer him 120 percent of his previous salary, or $1.19 million, according to ESPN Salary Cap guru Larry Coon.
Aside from possibly retaining those two players, the Nets are likely done making any more significant splashes. Their most immediate needs are a backup center and veteran point guard.
Deron Williams (five years, $98 million)
Joe Johnson (four years, $89 million)
Brook Lopez (four years, $60 million)*
Gerald Wallace (four years, $40 million)
Mirza Teletovic (three years, $9 million)*
Reggie Evans (three years, $5 million)*
Jerry Stackhouse (one year, $1.3 million)*
MarShon Brooks ($1.2 million for 2012-13, team options 2013-14, 14-15)
Tyshawn Taylor (two guaranteed years, $788,000 in 2012-13, per ESPN affiliate Shamsports.com)
*Denotes pending transaction.