New Year's wishes to the new Knicks and the new Nets

Richard G. Carter | 10/12/2012, 4:17 p.m.
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For months last season, the Nets were in a state of flux as players were distracted by constant Carmelo Anthony trade rumors. As the season progressed, the injury-plagued team often played minus four starters and suited up eight men instead of the normal 12.

Buoyed by Brooklyn and Mikhail Prokhorov, the richest owner in sports and a candidate for president of Russia, the youthful Nets are intent on acquiring the awesome 7-foot Howard from the Orlando Magic. The NBA's best center, he has expressed a strong desire to join superstar point guard Deron Williams. Success means the sky is the limit.

If Lopez is back and playing well by the March 15 deadline and traded for Howard, the playoffs are a lock. With no trade, Lopez' injury may be a blessing in disguise, since Howard is determined to leave. The Nets could sign him as a free agent in the summer and enter Brooklyn with a scary front line of Howard, Lopez and Kris Humphries.

Ironically, owing to Humphries' high-profile, embarrassing 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian, his presence looks to attract much bigger crowds to Nets games on the road. It also could mean unprecedented national TV exposure for the team.

The Nets' starters are guards Williams and Anthony Morrow or new arrival DeShawn Stevenson; 6-foot-11 center Mehmet Okur, acquired to fill in for Lopez, and forwards Humphries and Damion James. A Howard trade may bring 6-foot-10 forward Hedo Turkoglu, while 6-foot-9 free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko-a Prokhorov pal-is on their radar.

At this writing, the Nets,with four players named Williams, open on the road against the Washington Wizards followed at home against the Atlanta Hawks. Along with Deron, there's Shawne, Shelden and rookie Jordan. Via addition by subtraction, they dumped last year's flop-forward Travis Outlaw-and mediocre guard Stephen Graham.

So, with the ill-advised lockout of players in the rearview mirror, pro hoops fans hereabouts, for the first time in a number of years, have reason to be optimistic about both of our teams to start a new season. Better late than never.

Finally, wouldn't it be great for the Knicks and Nets to again meet in the NBA post-season playoffs? New York vs. New Jersey. We can dream, can't we? Meanwhile, Happy New Year to both.