Nets Trade for NJ Product Murphy to Fill in at Power Forward
August 11, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Ever since the free agency period wound down, the Nets had been seeking out ways to address what they felt was a lack of depth at power forward. Derrick Favors was the future – an All-Star someday, team executives often espouse – but they wanted, needed someone who could contribute consistently in the present.
It took four teams and five players to find such a forward, culminating in Wednesday's acquisition of veteran Troy Murphy from the Pacers, part of a trade also involving the Rockets and Hornets. The Nets shuffled guard Courtney Lee to Houston, who flipped forward Trevor Ariza to New Orleans. The Hornets completed the deal by sending guard Darren Collison and forward James Posey to Indiana.
"One of the players that stood out to me right away was Troy Murphy," said Nets general manager Billy King. "I have been talking to (the Pacers) and talking to (Nets coach Avery Johnson) and trying to find out a way to make it work. It just came about within the last seven days and I know it eats into most of the cap space this year, but what I felt it did was give us a player that can start if need be, can help teach Derrick about the power forward position, can compliment Brook, be a great rebounder and can shoot the 3. When you have a chance to get a big man in this league you have to go for it. There are not a lot of big men in this league, and you win with rebounding."
Murphy, who grew up in Sparta, N.J., boasts career averages of 12.6 points and 8.6 rebounds and has averaged a double-double five times in nine NBA seasons. At 6-foot-11 and 245-pounds, Murphy is willing to bang underneath, but is most valuable for his long-range shooting. A career .394 shooter from long-range, Murphy enticed Nets executives, who envision him spacing the floor for third-year center Brook Lopez, preventing opposing power forwards from helping to double team or pack the lane.
The combination of consistent production, rebounding and shooting prowess was compounded by Murphy entering the last year of his contract, which enabled the Nets to retain cap flexibility even as they added salary for this season. That was important for King, who didn't want to hinder Favors' development long-term or prevent the team from making a move to elevate them into the league's upper echelon.
"When I first got here, everyone was calling me up offering 1-year guys to help them," King said. "I didn’t want to just take a guy without adding a pick. I looked and said, 'That can come about.' But I wanted to make sure we put a team on the floor that was going to compete every night, and give us the best chance to win, and not just hold onto that cap space. I felt Troy was a player that will continue to help us get better and be a team that is competing everynight and trying to win on the floor."
King further explained that the deal, while it eats all but $2.5 million of this year's available space, should save the Nets an addtional $2 million against next year's cap. That brings them $20 million below the estimated threshold and ensures they'll again be a major player in free agency.
While King did say he'd contacted an "ecstatic" Murphy, who's currently on vacation with his girlfriend, he also lamented having to let go of Lee, whom the Nets acquired the day of the 2009 NBA Draft in a deal that sent Vince Carter to Orlando. In his one season with the Nets, Lee averaged 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting .338 from three-point range and .436 overall. The third-year veteran should slot in behind shooting guard Kevin Martin in Houston.
"Courtney, I thought, took last year rough, with the wins and the up and down season," King said. "I would have liked to hang on to him. But I looked at some of the guys we signed, and some of the guys we got coming back and I felt it was worth to move him to get Troy."