Smith, Pierce big names linked to Nets at deadline

When Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov returns to watch his team play in Brooklyn tomorrow, will he see any new players on his team?

That’s the question that remains as the NBA approaches today’s trade deadline, and one that had the Nets smack in the middle of the annual rumor mill as they prepared to face the Bucks last night.

“I don’t know,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said before the game when asked if he thought his team would look the same after today’s deadline.

Because of Prokhorov’s willingness to spend, and because of their hole at power forward, the Nets have been linked to the top player available, Atlanta’s Josh Smith — who also happens to play power forward. But while Yahoo! Sports reported the Nets, along with the Bucks and Suns, are the three likeliest destinations for Smith, it still seems unlikely the Nets would be able to pull off such a deal.

The biggest impediment in any deal for a player such as Smith or Boston’s Paul Pierce is the fact the Nets are including power forward Kris Humphries in any such deal because of his $12 million salary. Though that would make the salaries match in a trade for a big name such as Smith or Pierce, teams are reluctant to have to take on the $12 million Humphries is owed next season, as well.

A league source said there was “not much” to reports of the Nets making a run at Pierce, who has spent his entire career with the Celtics and who has a partially guaranteed salary for next year of just $4 million.”

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