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Nets talking playoffs after flurry of deals

The SportsXchange

When the NBA's moratorium on signing free agents was lifted July 1, the Nets had only four players under contract, so it was evident that general manager Billy King and his staff had their work cut out for them to assemble a competitive roster as the team heads to Brooklyn for its first season.

Less than a month later, the Nets have pretty much put the finishing touches on their 2012-13 roster and prospects appear to look pretty good -- even though the team didn't acquire Orlando Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard.

King said that signing his own free agents was a priority, and he accomplished that by getting All-Star guard Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries all to re-sign with the club.

There was some talk that re-signing Lopez and Humphries was done to include them as pieces to acquire Howard, but the Howard trade talk is officially dead -- for now. The team cannot even think about trading for Howard until January at the earliest.

The Nets also pulled off a blockbuster trade to get All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson from the Hawks, sending a host of bad contracts and draft picks to Atlanta to get the six-time All-Star.

King also signed veteran free agents Reggie Evans (actually a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Clippers), Jerry Stackhouse and C.J. Watson to solidify the Nets' bench, signed Croatian forward Mirza Teletovic and came to terms with two of his three draft picks, guard Tyshawn Taylor of Kansas and European forward Tornike Shengelia.

It's plain to see that with King's hard work, the Nets appear to be vastly improved as they head to Brooklyn. Several players are already talking about being an Eastern Conference playoff contender.

"Yeah, I'd say so," Humphries said when asked if the Nets were among the top five teams in the Eastern Conference. "If you look at what we have and the coaching staff we have, we're definitely a playoff team. That's what we're looking to do. There's buzz. You can see it all over. It's going to be unbelievable. I'm glad to be a part of it."

The Nets will also benefit from having a full preseason and training camp to help the newcomers mesh. Last year, with the lockout taking place, the Nets really didn't have a chance to gain any continuity, then suffered through the highest number of injuries in the NBA. Every single player on the Nets' roster in 2011-12 missed at least one game because of injury.

So as the Nets move into their new home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they will have a ton of promise, putting the troubled last few seasons in New Jersey in the rearview mirror.

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