The Brooklyn Nets Offseason: A Sensible Plan for the Future
The Brooklyn Nets have made a name for blockbuster deals over the last few summers. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has not been shy of spending money and laughing at the luxury tax if it meant making a contender. This summer, the Nets have been singing a different tune; making moves to save money and diminish expectations.
Addition by Subtraction
The “biggest” move the Nets made this offseason was letting go of All-Star point guard Deron Williams. The Williams experiment did not work and it was rumored that he didn’t get along with coaches and teammates. The Nets wanted to get younger and more athletic, and with Williams gone, they were on the right path to doing that.
The Nets used most of their money to re-sign center Brook Lopez and power forward Thaddeus Young. They want to build around those two with young, athletic wings. Enter first round draft pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
The Young Guns
Hollis-Jefferson gives the Nets a young, athletic small forward who projects to be a really good defender (something that will please head Coach Lionel Hollins). His outside jump shot will need some work, but that (we hope) will come in time. The Nets also drafted Chris McCullough, a young big who can provide more athleticism down low (once he comes back from his injury of course).
I love their two rookies’ potential. I think Hollis-Jefferson can be a star if he develops a reliable jumper. McCullough is long and athletic and he can be dominant on both sides of the ball when healthy. The Nets got both of them at reasonable spots in the draft, and the two shouldn’t have a lot of pressure to produce early on.
If the Nets’ future offseason plans (to be discussed in a moment) doesn’t pan out, the development of these two will be critical. They can be the face of the franchise for the future if they pan out, or they can add their names to a (very) long list of Nets draft busts.
The Nets then decided to sign some minor deals to a few NBA journeymen who could help the roster. Andrea Bargnani, Shane Larkin, Thomas Robinson, and Wayne Ellington, all bring offensive sparks to the team (and at a cheap price to boot)!
Sticking to the Script
I like the moves that the Nets made this summer. They had a clear plan and stuck to it. They wanted to:
Get younger and more athletic (check)
Get better defensively (check)
Bring back Lopez and Young (check and check)
Get rid of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson (check and not yet)
Get under the luxury tax (check)
Out of the five main priorities this summer, the Nets have successfully pulled off four and a half of them. They were close to making a deal that would have sent Joe Johnson to the Cavaliers, but backed out because they didn’t want to take on Anderson Varejao’s contract. A smart move on the Nets’ part.
The Nets believe Johnson will play better this season with Williams no longer on the team. Plus, taking back both Haywood and Varejao's’ contracts would have kept the team near the luxury tax line. If their gamble pays off and Johnson plays well, they can try again in moving him by the trade deadline for a better price.
The End Game
The Nets aren’t going to win a championship this year. I think I can safely say that. They should use this year to build chemistry with their brand new team and use this year to prepare for a bounce back year in 2016.
They are going to be in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes next summer, and I think they have a better chance at him than most people give them credit for. He’s signed with Jay Z’s Roc Nation (coincidence, I think not!) and the moves that Brooklyn made this summer would put them in a prime position (money wise) to sign him. The trick will be convincing Durant that the team around him will be good enough to help win a title. They have a year to do just that!
Photos courtesy of the NY Post