WHAT IT MEANS: Kris Humphries is back, and the Nets have a starting power forward. Humphries and the Nets have agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth nearly $8 million, a source told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard. Humphries will likely have his contract signed prior to Wednesday morning's shootaround, and should play in Wednesday night's game against the Knicks, a league source told ESPN NewYork.com.
FILLING A VOID: The Nets obviously needed to upgrade at the 4 spot, and did so by bringing back Humphries, who had a breakout season with New Jersey in 2010-11, averaging 10 points and 10.4 rebounds per game -- which ranked fifth in the NBA. They can now bring veteran journeyman Shelden Williams off the bench.
STARTING 5: The Nets starting five going into the season should be Deron Williams, Anthony Morrow, Damion James, Humphries and Brook Lopez. That's a whole lot better than Shelden Williams and Lopez in the frontcourt. And by the fifth or 10th game of the season, Shawne Williams may become the starting small forward, coach Avery Johnson said Monday. Either way, the Nets now have a very capable rotation featuring Jordan Farmar, rookie MarShon Brooks and likely James and Shelden Williams coming off the pine by midseason.
WHAT'S NEXT? Probably nothing. The Nets still have around $11 million in cap space remaining, but would they be willing to spend it? Maybe. Andrei Kirilenko would certainly be a solid addition, but would the Nets want to commit multiple years to him now that they have Humphries? Doubtful, but you never know. Also, it's nice to be able to maintain some cap flexibility for down the road.
SO WHAT ABOUT D-12? Orlando center Dwight Howard is still very much a possibility. It's just unlikely to happen right now. The Nets can no longer accumulate the bloated contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon in a blockbuster trade. By signing now, Humphries is eligible to be traded on March 1, per the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement. Obviously, his expiring contract comes off the books at season's end, giving the Nets ample cap space to chase Howard if he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2012.
A NEW MAN: Humphries is a celebrity now. He is the ex-husband of Kim Kardashian, after all. Will he be a different person? Will TMZ be spotted regularly at practices and games? We'll have to wait and see. Humphries will likely say all the right things about being completely focused and committed on his basketball career. The Nets just have to hope it's the truth. We do know one thing, though: there will be no courtside with Kim any longer.
NO TIME TO WASTE Humphries has been in the Nets' system before, but he has just three or four practices and possibly a preseason game before New Jersey takes on Washington in its season opener Monday to get himself acclimated. Welcome to post-lockout life in the NBA.