Nets don’t see their hopes as LeBron or bust

With Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh going to Miami, the New Jersey

Nets don’t see their hopes for the future as being reduced to a

LeBron James-or-bust scenario.

Far from it.

An official within the league who is close to Nets management

says the team is still in the hunt for New York Knicks forward

David Lee, and they believe they are going to get other players at

bargain rates once the initial phase of free agency passes.

Of course, new owner Mikhail Prokhorov and his minions believe

they have a chance of landing James.

The two-time MVP is scheduled to announce whether he plans to

stay in Cleveland or play elsewhere in a nationally televised show

on Thursday night.

Nets president and general manager Rod Thorn wrote a text

message to The Associated Press on Wednesday night saying they were

still involved in some talks.

With Wade and Bosh announcing on Wednesday that they will be

playing for the Heat in Miami next season, the Nets spent a good

portion of the day trying to set up a meeting with Boozer, who

averaged team highs of 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds for the Jazz

last season.

The plans fell apart late in the afternoon when Boozer agreed to

leave Utah and join the Chicago Bulls.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he

was not authorized to speak for the Nets, said the team was not

going to overpay for free agents. The official said Boozer got $80

million for five years.

Boozer wasn’t the first free agent the Nets failed to persuade

to come to New Jersey to play for a team that won a league-low 12

games last season.

Rudy Gay, who was possibly the Nets’ second choice in free

agency, decided to stay with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Knicks and

former Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire then agreed to a five-year

contract for roughly $100 million.

New Jersey, which also had meetings with Wade and Bosh on July

1, the first day of free agency, learned the pair was headed to

Miami on Wednesday. Wade is staying. Bosh is joining a contender

after years in Toronto.

“I think at the end of the day the New York Knicks and Chicago

had to overspend on players,” the official within the league said.

“We are not in the same situation as either team.”

The Nets are believed to have offered Boozer about $5 million

less than the Bulls.

Mark Bartelstein, who represents Lee, said on Tuesday that the

lines of communication have been open between him and Thorn about

Lee, who averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds this past

season.

Bartelstein did not immediately return two telephone messages

left by the AP at his office in Chicago.