Derek Favors of the NJ NetsThe NBA's regular season doesn't tip off until next week, and already a significant bargain ticket offer has materialized. It includes opening night, no less. Through TravelZoo, the New Jersey News announced they were offering tickets for four of their first five home games at up to 75% off the regular price.

The Nets' Oct. 27 debut against the Detroit Pistons, Oct. 29 game vs. the Sacramento Kings, Nov. 3 vs. the Charlotte Bobcats and Nov. 9 vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers all include a similar price-slashing structure (with small variations). At the deal's high end, normally $200 lower-level seats are going for $50. At the low end, normally $40 seats are available for $10. (The team wisely omitted the Oct. 31 game against the LeBron James-led Miami Heat from the arrangement.)

Granted, the Nets are coming off a 12-70 season and at this writing appear to be coming up empty in their quest to land a marquee player such as Carmelo Anthony, but there's a sliver of optimism. They have a proven new coach in Avery Johnson, a deep-pocketed owner in Mikhail Prokhorov and a blossoming front-line player in Brook Lopez. They also play in Newark's Prudential Center, a huge improvement over the living morgue known as the Izod Center, until the team makes its expected move to Brooklyn in two years.

Early-season single-game deals are somewhat unusual in the NBA -- but this WalletPopper is not surprised by anything in an economy that is still having the effect of a full-court press on family budgets. The average price of an NBA ticket dropped last season by 2.8% to 49.47, according to Team Market Research. It was the first decline in eight years. One playoff team, the Dallas Mavericks, sold $2 tickets for a spell.

Among those having to adapt this season, the Kings, Pistons and Warriors cut prices, while Memphis froze its prices for the fifth straight campaign.

But while many clubs will likely wait and see how many folks they can get in the seats before striking bargains for individual games, the Nets are going the preemptive route. They need to win back fans they lost due to a horrid team and economy. No slam dunk -- but they're off to a good start before taking even one shot.

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