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The Nets' toughest opponents next season might not be the Pistons and the Pacers but purse-strings and the payroll.

If Martin receives a maximum offer from another team - Atlanta and Denver are among clubs with available room for a max proposal - a strong chance exists the Nets would not match. Because Martin is a restricted free agent, the Nets can match any offer he receives. Martin can get an offer of 25 percent of the salary cap with a 12.5-percent increase each year for seven years from the Nets or 10 percent bumps for six years from other teams. Figure the Nets, based on a cap of around $45 million, could offer a deal worth $103 million while competitors can give about $85 million without a seventh year.

Kidd's knee injury may keep him in New Jersey as not even he is secure in ownership's eyes, sources said. But nothing can be discussed until the status of his surgery-requiring knee is determined. Kidd signed a $103 million, six-year deal last summer. Prospective ownership apparently sees a large salary, not a player who revitalized a franchise and directed two trips to the NBA Finals.