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(Original publication: December 15, 2005)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
The Nets have been beaten in back-to-back games in embarrassing fashion over the last nights.
So today, they're left to wonder if their next loss will be a player
The Nets' 91-83 defeat to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats before 13,363 angry fans last night came on the eve of when all NBA players who signed new contracts over the summer are eligible to be traded.
And the underachieving Nets are definitely shopping, according to several league sources. Rightfully so.
While the Bobcats saw the end of their eight-game losing streak, the Nets dropped their third in a row and fell to 9-12.
The Nets were slightly better than their ugly 94-74 loss to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.
But chemistry remains an issue as center Marc Jackson took a DNP and angrily declared he would welcome a trade. The remaining Nets are left to answer what the Nets are missing the most.
"Our willingness to win," Vince Carter said.
Brevin Knight led Charlotte with 25 points and, once again, the Nets' Big 3 of Richard Jefferson (25 points), Carter (22 points) and Jason Kidd (eight points, 10 assists, eight rebounds) were not enough.
And while the job security of Nets coach Lawrence Frank was not believed to be in immediate jeopardy, Nets president Rod Thorn was meeting with the third-year coach in his office nearly two hours after the game.
The Nets led by 11 in the first quarter, but fired 14 for 44 in the second half.
A Melvin Ely 3-point play and Emeka Okafor free throw with 3:22 left gave Charlotte a 76-66 lead and that was all she wrote.
Jackson, Jeff McInnis, Lamond Murray and Scott Padgett — all signed during the summer — are now trade-eligible.
The Nets are also believed to be dangling guard Zoran Planinic and their two first-round draft picks in order to procure a big body. Planinic was put on the inactive list and did not play, while Jackson and McInnis, the Nets' two main free-agent signings in the offseason, did not play.
Frank said he was searching. Jackson was steamed, nonetheless.
"If (Frank) don't think I can help the team, then maybe get rid of me for somebody you think can help the team," Jackson said. "That DNP is real crazy, man. That DNP, only happens since I've been here."
Players that would become available today who the Nets would have an interest in include Ely, Milwaukee's Dan Gadzuric and the Clippers' Chris Wilcox. Even Houston's Stromile Swift, who the Nets coveted in the off-season, would become available
But whether the Nets are willing to make a bigger deal depends on their patience level. There is a growing sentiment in the organization that Carter could be expendable if it can return an impact defensive player.
"We definitely can turn this thing around and all of the sudden, everybody will be like, 'Wow, this is a great team,' " Carter said.
The Nets haven't had that defensive enforcer since Kenyon Martin was traded to Denver two summers ago. Ironically, the Nuggets are said to be shopping Martin - who comes to the Meadowlands tomorrow night.
Collins update: Nets forward Jason Collins will undergo more tests today to gauge the inflamed peroenal nerve in his right leg. Collins has played the last two games, but continues to feel discomfort. If it continues, surgery may be an alternative.