You never really know who's making decisions, and who's been in talks with whom, but these things are certainly true: Billy King has two bosses right now, and his seemingly insane, cap-destroying plan today was no doubt made with both in mind.
That is, there's no way that the Nets take on Joe Johnson's contract without some knowledge that it'll make Deron happier AND there's no way that King spent Prokhorov's money without telling him how much he'd have to keep spending to make it work. We don't know if Prokhorov understands the NBA, we don't know if he fully appreciates the kind of bind he's putting himself in, but we do know this:
A guy who has made Prokhorov's billions does understand business, he does understand what having a good rather than terrible team opening up the Barclay's center will mean, AND he's decided that the solution of this problem is to throw money at it.
Which, translated, means that while it might seem obvious that with 50 million tied up in three guys for next four years (Joe Johnson's contract is 25 million in 2015-2016-we can pause and say, jesus, what the hell were they thinking one more time)--that the Nets would not be matching even a reasonable offer for Brook Lopez. But don't bet on it. Because of Bird Rights, it's just luxury tax. If Prokhorov wants to spend it, he can, and it seems that he wants to.
So we're looking at a starting five of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Random PF, and Brook Lopez. And MarShon Brooks off the bench. Currently the Mavs have Rodrigue Beaubois, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Brandan Wright/Brendan Haywood.
Are you kidding? That's not even close. Four of those Nets guys are better scorers than the Mavs' second best scorer who, at this point, has to be Shawn Marion. And they're younger. And the Nets can offer more, and more years, and play in a bigger deal city.
Obviously the Mavs aren't done. Obviously, things have done a complete 180 from earlier today, and no it's the Mavs, not the Nets, who offer Deron maybe the only chance to pair with Dwight Howard. Obviously, Dirk Nowitzki is a class above anything the Nets have to offer AND the Mavericks can now offer flexibility that the Nets are completely without. Just like trading their draft pick, this is a complete home run swing for the Nets. If Deron signs, they won't be able to sign a contract of any real impact for years without other changes. But they clearly have much more than the Mavs have at this particular moment.
Deron is a smart guy. But pinpointing which players other players like is not an easy task, and knowing how much FAs think about future cap issues is impossible. True, odds are good that a core of Williams, Johnson, Wallace, Lopez doesn't have any real shot against the Heat-but basketball players are a confident bunch, it comes with the territory. I doubt Deron is thinking that that group wouldn't compete with the Heat-I doubt he could, and be as good as he is.
The Mavs, yesterday, had the talent edge but not the money and flexibility edge, and I thought they were the favorites. Now that it's turned around, it would seem like the other way makes the most sense.
I will now jump off a bridge.