Nets general manager Billy King may want to make a notable trade but if he was placing odds on it, the chances of a major name coming to Brooklyn before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline seem slim.
“We could, then we could not,” King said to reporters at the morning shootaround on Tuesday. “I would put the likelihood of us doing a deal at 10 percent.”
In the buildup to the deadline, the Nets have mostly been linked to Atlanta power forward Josh Smith, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return to Atlanta after the season.
Other names linked to the Nets include Charlotte reserve shooting guard Ben Gordon and Utah power forward Paul Millsap. Of course the name Dwight Howard has also been thrown into the rumor discussion, especially after the Nets failed pursuit of him last year.
Adding someone notable could prove costly in terms of the luxury tax for the Nets. After King shelled out $330 million last summer, the payroll currently sits at $83.5 million, putting them $13.5 million over the salary cap.
Ownership has stated anything less than a trip to the Eastern Conference finals will not be considered a successful season and the lone assets the team has in a trade are two players whose play has diminished after last season in Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks.
“We are at a point now where I think this group has got to play together more than shaking it up and bringing in a bunch of pieces,” King said. “The roster itself is not perfect but I think it’s a roster that can win and it’s won 31 games.”
Carlesimo befuddled by Williams criticism
Before last night’s game, interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo spent a few minutes defending point guard Deron Williams from the various criticism he has received this year despite his 16.7 points per game and 41.3 percent shooting not being as effective as past seasons.
“We just need him to be Deron Williams,” Carlesimo said. “Everybody else has problems with Deron. I don't have any problems with Deron Williams. I love Deron Williams and he's a great player. I'm a little bit befuddled at everything that's being made. He's a pretty good player. I don't have the problem with him that everybody else has or seems to have. I don't know what everyone else is looking at.”
The most recent criticism came from president of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo. Colangelo told the New York Daily News at All-Star Weekend in Houston that Williams was “not in the best of shape” for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Williams returned Tuesday night after missing two games with inflammation in both ankles and Carlesimo cited the 31 wins the Nets had at the All-Star break in his defense of his franchise player.
“Again you can look at numbers and make numbers say whatever they want,” Carlesimo said. “I don't know what the stats are. We've had more wins in a bunch of years than this franchise has had in a bunch of years at the All-Star break. We're playing in a new building and with new teammates.
“I think from the outside world people will say things are OK in Brooklyn and Deron has a lot to do with that. Deron's basically been the single most important factor in transforming the franchise, so honestly I don't understand it.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.