The trade deadline has come and gone and not a single meaningful shot was fired. In fact, the shot not heard meant the most to the league and to those who followed every word anticipating big changes in Orlando.

Dwight Howard, the big fish in the small pond chose to stay and opt-in the early termination clause of his contract. The process says more about the perennial all-star than the eventual outcome but what matters more is the impact his decision will have on free agency after the 12-13 season.

The team that Howard had been linked to for the last two years had been the New Jersey Nets, soon to be the Brooklyn Nets. A lot was expected from the Nets but things have not gone according to plan since the Russian billionaire took over — Mikhail Prokhorov came in and raised expectations for the franchise but it was clear things wouldn′t be as easy as he might have expected.

From Carmelo to Lebron, the Nets have swung and missed and now with Dwight choosing to stay because of his loyalty (as he puts it), the Nets are wandering through the NBA without a great amount of options.

Derron Williams will not follow Howard and sign his early termination clause, instead opting to test free agency in the off season and most likely leave to another franchise. The biggest competition at this early stage in the process is the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks will be without Jason Kidd who at this point is keeping the seat warm for a younger more dynamic guard in the mold of Williams. They will be in a great position given their cap situation to acquire the 26-year-old guard leaving the Nets without a marque star in Brooklyn.

The Nets will have the financial advantage in that they will be in the position to offer Williams twenty eight million more than any other team can offer. However; something tells me money won′t be the determining factor in his decision. The Nets can add pieces via free agency and the draft but it remains to be seen if it will match a potential Dirk Nowitzki/Williams combo. Not to mention the many other teams who will throw their hats in the ring for his services.

There was much excitement early on but that feeling has been replaced by disappointment and maybe even panic. The stadium is already making its presence felt in downtown Brooklyn and the people of Brooklyn are excited about having a team again but things are not looking good in terms of star power in the big city.

With the Knicks struggling at times, the opportunity is there or at least was there for the Nets to make an impact and at least become part of the conversation. The names are drying up and all that money won′t mean nothing if no one wants to come and play.

At this point it doesn′t really matter what Howard does two years from now in free agency — if it even gets to that point, chances are Williams will be gone and coming to Brooklyn to play by himself for Howard wouldn′t make much sense. Sure other big names will become available but given the track record of the Nets under Prokhorov, fans of the team should prepare for a lot more swings with many more misses.


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