A little over two years ago, the Nets traded Eduardo Najera – who never quite found his groove in New Jersey thanks to various injuries – to the Mavericks for Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams. While the trade was more about moving the final two-and-a-half years of Najera's contract than making a significant acquisition, Humphries proved to be a pleasant surprise for New Jersey.
Hump gave the Nets the edge they sorely needed on the glass in 2010/11 as Brook Lopez shied away from the paint and this summer he was handsomely rewarded with a one-year, $8MM deal. However, the former 14th overall pick didn't get to put pen-to-paper until just four days prior to the start of the NBA season as the Nets wanted flexibility to be able to pull off a trade with Orlando involving Dwight Howard. Unfortunately for Humphries, he could experience flashbacks to that once again this summer. While he is having another strong season, it seems likely that the Nets will put him on the back-burner once again as they explore a deal for Howard or another mega-star that will make Deron Williams want to join the club in Brooklyn.
Despite the extra attention that he has gotten this year, both on- and off-the-court, Humphries has delivered once again this season, putting up 13.4 PPG and 10.9 RPG. It's not exactly clear who is representing the 27-year-old at the moment but whoever his agent is will likely look to get Humphries a long-term deal. Will the Nets, who are anxious to satiate their star point guard with another "max level" player, commit upwards of $8MM to the big man over three or four years? Maybe not, but it's also possible that the club will be looking at a Deron-less future in July. Hump's blue collar style may not sell out the state-of-the-art Barclays Center, but it would help keep the club competitive during yet another rebuilding phase.
While the Nets may not be ready to prioritize Humphries, there are plenty of clubs that will. The Celtics might be in the market for a power forward if they part ways with Kevin Garnett. Teams such as the Cavaliers, Suns, and Bobcats have money to spend and could all be in the mix depending on what their short- and long-term goals are. Humphries has dominated the front pages of tabloids so far in 2012 but he could transition back over to making headlines in sports sections with a lucrative new contract this summer.