There's no question that the NBA team that made the biggest splash in the offseason was the Nets.
Not only did the Nets re-sign four of their own prominent free agents, especially All-Star point guard Deron Williams, but they also went out and acquired All-Star off-guard Joe Johnson in a trade and signed a group of solid contributory players who make the Nets perhaps the most improved team in the league -- at the very least, on paper.
There's no question that when the Nets christen their $1 billion new home, the Barclays Center, to begin the 2012-13 season Nov. 1, they will be a vastly improved squad over the team that bumbled its way through a 22-44 record a year ago.
The Nets might not be done tinkering with their roster.
There were reports that the Nets were in discussions with Kenyon Martin in an attempt to bring back the franchise's No. 1 overall selection in the 2000 NBA draft.
Martin played four memorable seasons with the Nets, leading them to consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers (2002) and the San Antonio Spurs (2003). Martin also was a member of the 2004 NBA All-Star team during his tenure with the Nets.
Martin was traded to Denver in a controversial 2004 deal after Nets management refused to renegotiate his contract. It was at a time when then Nets primary owner Bruce Ratner didn't realize the value of having star players on his roster. Soon after dealing Martin to Denver, Ratner then agreed to allow the management to acquire Vince Carter in a trade with Toronto.
Martin, who signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers midway through last season after beginning the year in China during the NBA lockout, would have to sign for the veteran's minimum if he hooked on with the Nets, roughly around $3.5 million. He's also considering offers from the Knicks and the Lakers, but Martin might want to go back to the franchise where his NBA career began some 12 years ago.
Martin would join a logjam at power forward, where incumbent Kris Humphries resides. Humphries was one of the four Nets free agents to get new deals with the club. But the Nets also acquired veteran Reggie Evans in a sign-and-trade with the Clippers and signed Croatian standout Mirza Teletovic to also see time down low.
Of the four, the 34-year-old Martin would provide the best defensive and physical presence. Martin is definitely not the player he was a decade ago, but he still has enough left in the tank to help the Nets ascend to the top of the Eastern Conference standings and make a return to the playoffs, which now appears likely.
There were too many times to count last season when opponents went to the rim with abandon and dominated play close to the basket because the Nets lacked any sort of physical presence down low. The acquisition of Martin would eliminate those concerns in a heartbeat.
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