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Marcus Henry previews the 2012 Nets season

MARCUS HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 12/23/2011, 10:56 a.m.

Nothing is going to be easy for the New Jersey Nets this season. With the potential acquisition of Dwight Howard looking more like a long shot and Deron Williams undecided on whether to sign an extension, this could be a long season.

The Nets made some moves, like signing forwards Shawne Williams and Shelden Williams and using the amnesty clause to waive Travis Outlaw. Most importantly, they'll have a healthy Williams for the entire season. That alone should keep the team competitive. But becoming a contender is an entirely different story.

"This is going to be a season where it's abnormal," Nets coach Avery Johnson told reporters. "It's not your normal training camp. You don't have a normal free agency period, but we'll adjust."

The Nets have already struck out on some of their most coveted free agents, including Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler, who signed with the Knicks and Clippers, respectively. The team has some quality players like talented big man Brook Lopez, sharpshooter Anthony Morrow and youngsters like second-year swing man Damion James, rookie shooting guard MarShon Brooks and first-year power forward Jordan Williams.

"We feel we have an elite point guard; we feel we have a center who's top five in the NBA; we feel we have a prolific shooter in Anthony Morrow," said Johnson. "We feel we're very deep at our point guard position with Deron, Jordan Farmar and Sundiata Gaines."

As for any impending free agent moves, Johnson said the team will be ready to pounce and adjust. "Wherever we go from a free agent standpoint, a trade standpoint...we feel we're going to have the type of system that's going to be able to adjust to the type of personnel we have."

There are still many gaping holes, but the Nets have the assets (e.g., multiple first-round picks, cap space, Lopez) and a brand-new home at the Barclays Center next season to work with. The Nets' opener at Washington on Dec. 26 is right around the corner, but a lot can happen between now and then. Stay tuned.