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No Carmelo for the Nets, but things could be worse

Marcus Henry | 4/12/2011, 4:46 p.m.

So the Nets struck out with Carmelo Anthony. No one should be surprised.

Did anyone think the Nets really had a legitimate shot at getting him? Everyone in the Nets camp had hopes, but Anthony had put out feelers all along saying he wanted to go to the Knicks.

By the way, this isn't a Knicks-Nets thing. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov told CNBC: "I think we made a very good tactical decision to force (the) Knicks to pay as much as they can. So it's very good, it's very interesting, it's very competitive."

As content as Prokhorov feels about making the Knicks ante up so many players, it's not about that. It's about the Nets improving themselves. The Nets can't get caught up in what the Knicks do. So the Knicks have Anthony. There will be other star players at some point who will be looking for big money. It may take a little longer for the Nets to get where they need to be, but at least they have a fighting chance.

And now that the Anthony saga is over, let's see what the Nets have to work with. They have four first-round draft picks and a quality young center to work with. Devin Harris can still play at a high level and the move to Brooklyn is right around the corner.

Sure, the team isn't good now. Their 17-40 record at the break is proof of that. But the Nets are in prime position to make some serious moves over the next two years with Brooklyn as their back drop.

The Nets payroll could be as low as $35 million next year. No one knows what the salary cap will be in a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, but the Nets are sure to be well under it. This doesn't mean they will be able to bring in any high-powered players in the off season, but at the very least general manager Billy King will be able to entice teams with the pieces he has.

It's not the perfect solution to what ails the Nets, but things could be worse. They could be capped out with no superstars and bleak future like Cleveland.