HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — General manager Billy King and the New Jersey Nets didn’t take long to recover from the loss of Brook Lopez, acquiring Mehmet Okur from the Utah Jazz for a second round pick in 2015.
Okur is paid $10.9 million this season, a salary which the Nets are able to absorb with their remaining cap space. They still have their $2.5 million room exception, which they’ll use to sign DeShawn Stevenson on Friday.
Since Okur’s deal is expiring, the Nets retain all of their 2012 cap space reserved for Dwight Howard (and have a lot of expiring deals to include in a trade before the deadline). Further, since the Jazz were willing to let the center go for nothing but salary relief, King didn’t have to give up any of the first rounders he has earmarked for a potential Howard deal. (Reports had the Nets sending five first-round picks out in a deal that fell through last week.)
Okur played just 13 games last season because of a variety of injuries (mostly as he recovered from a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon he suffered in the 2010 playoffs), but played in the Turkish League during the lockout and was in shape when camp opened, playing a total of 30 minutes in Utah’s two preseason games.
So while the Nets still have their eyes on Howard, they clearly want to make the playoffs — whether or not they acquire that other center in March.