AJ: Nets have potential to be elite

Owner Mikhail Prokhorov has allowed general manager Billy King and assistant GM Bobby Marks to spend approximately a third of a billion dollars this offseason to improve the Nets’ roster.

“(Mikhail’s) done his part, but I think the potential and the possibility of us being a special team is there,” coach Avery Johnson said Friday, adding that the Nets are right in the middle of the Russian billionaire’s five-year plan to win a championship.

The Nets have already retained Deron Williams (five years, $98 million), Brook Lopez (four years, $60 million), Gerald Wallace (four years, $40 million) and Kris Humphries (two years, $24 million), while bringing in Joe Johnson (four years, $89 million), Mirza Teletovic (three years, $9 million), Reggie Evans (three years, $5 million), C.J. Watson (two years, veteran’s minimum) and Jerry Stackhouse (one year, $1.3 million). They also are expected to re-sign Keith Bogans, according to a league source, giving them 12 players under contract; MarShon Brooks and second-round pick Tyshawn Taylor are the other Nets under contract.

Johnson said the Nets’ next targets are a backup center and small forward as they look to fill out their roster for the 2012-13 season. The Nets are interested in free agent Ryan Hollins to get minutes behind Lopez, a source told ESPNNewYork.com. They are also reportedly in talks with Nazr Mohammed about possibly filling that void. Damion James has also been reported as a possibility to come back and provide depth at the 3-spot.

Lopez was asked Friday who’s better: The Brooklyn Nets or the New York Knicks?

“I gotta go with the Nets,” he replied. “I don’t think there’s gonna be anyone on the Knicks that says the Nets.”

Lopez doesn’t expect “Linsanity” to go away just because Jeremy Lin is no longer a member of the Knicks.

“It can exist in Houston. He’s a good player,” Lopez said of Lin, who became a Rocket after the Knicks declined to match his three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet. “You think there’s nothing outside of New York?”