If the New Jersey Nets are indeed at the top of Dwight Howard’s list of preferred places to play next season, then they’re going to need as much salary cap space as possible — not only to pay Howard, but also to have some money left over to surround him with some decent pieces.
It makes sense, then, for the Nets to be buyers at the trade deadline, but only of players whose contracts expire at the end of this season. Boris Diaw is one such player, and should be low-hanging fruit for another team to acquire in a deal given his current situation in Charlotte.
The Nets, wisely, have some interest. From Rick Bonnell at the Charlotte Observer:
The New Jersey Nets would like Boris Diaw’s expiring $9 million contract number, and they’d give up the future first-round pick the Houston Rockets owe them to accomplish that. The Bobcats would have to take players with financial obligations beyond this season.
I hear Jordan Farmar and Johan Petro would come to Charlotte. Would the Bobcats do that and lower their salary-cap flexibility? Hard to say.
Diaw has clashed with Bobcats head coach Paul Silas this season, and just last week, he reportedly asked the team for a buyout. Many believed Diaw had played his last game for Charlotte and would be gone one way or another, especially after he was ripped publicly by Silas.
But Diaw was back in the lineup on Monday, and played again on Wednesday in the team’s loss to the Rockets. With just two points in 24 total minutes in those games, however, and no other on-court contributions to speak of, it’s pretty clear that he’s mentally checked out.
The first round pick is more than any other team is likely to offer for Diaw. The Bobcats should probably take it at this point, unless of course they value the cap space that will be created by Diaw leaving at season’s end more than they do the draft pick.
And honestly, they just might. Especially when it comes with an extra season of $8 million in salary committed to Farmar and Petro.