While the Knicks have the glitz and glamor of Madison Square Garden, the Nets have undoubtedly the brighter future given each team’s current assets. For the price of Eddy Curry ($11.3 million in 2010-2011), New Jersey has both Devin Harris ($9.0 mil) and Brook Lopez ($2.4 mil). They have Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Terrence Williams, and Yi Jianlian locked up next season for about $8.5 million total, and they’ll be able to add one high lottery pick and one late first rounder to that collective in order to entice a big free agent score.
Throw in a flashy new owner, a likely score of a solid free agent coach, and the impending move to Brooklyn, and it’s tough to see why any free agent at all would prefer the situation in New York to that in New Jersey. This season was dismal, but the future looks really, really bright for the Nets.
And Kris Humphries apparently wants to be a part of it. For one more season, at least. According to Dave D’Alessandro of the Star Ledger, Humphries is likely to exercise his $3.2 million player option for next season. D’Alessandro cites “the general feeling around the league” as his source, but it could easily be traced to common sense. Humphries is a decent option at forward, but at his best he’s an end-of-the-rotation player. There’s little upside to his game, his defense and shot selection can be suspect, but he does offer fairly solid scoring and rebounding in limited minutes.
Given his talent level relative to his salary, picking up the option is a no-brainer. There may be some appeal for a guy like Hump to score a longer salary before the new CBA kicks in, but there’s no guarantee that anyone would be willing to sign him to such a deal. $3.2 million could be the most substantial paycheck Humphries ever receives in his career, and playing it safe in this case is the right move.
That does cut ever so slightly into the Nets’ cap space this summer, though not enough to prevent them from signing a max free agent and then some. A couple of factors (which pick the Nets get in the draft, whether or not they want to retain Keyon Dooling) keep New Jersey’s exact amount of cap space in limbo, but it should be interesting to watch how Hump’s $3.2 million salary affects who the Nets can target as their second free agent acquisition.