Brooklyn's Plan N: How the Nets Have Handled a Disappointing Offseason
*Photo via USA Today
The Brooklyn Nets have had a lackluster off-season to say the least. After an abysmal NBA season, the Nets haven’t been able to do anything to get their fans excited for the upcoming one either. However, if you listen to team officials, you would think that everything is going according to plan.
Sure, they weren’t able to get a superstar free agent. Sure, they weren’t able to get any tier two players. Sure, they weren’t even able to snag Tyler Johnson or Allen Crabbe even though they offered up ridiculously high contracts for their services. But, according to the Nets, it’s all according to the plan.
Some people aren’t buying it. How can a team say that everything is going according to plan when the only “real” NBA talent that they have to show this off-season was Jeremy Lin? The Nets have a plan (I’m calling it “Plan ‘N’”), and yes, with everything that’s happened (or not happened in this case), “Plan ‘N’” is off to a great start!
First, let’s dive into what “Plan ‘N’” actually is. The Nets decided to be “realistic” in their approach, and not sell fans on pipe dreams that will never go into fruition. That’s the reason why the Nets were never even linked to Kevin Durant, even though he’s with Brooklyn’s own Jay Z’s Roc Nation agency. The Nets, despite having a terrible season, didn’t have a first round draft pick, and won’t be able to control their first round picks until 2019. With the knowledge that no big time free agent wanted to come to Brooklyn, along with the fact that the team won’t have a true first round selection for another three years, the Nets developed “Plan ‘N’” as a way to get better going forward.
The first step of “Plan ‘N’” was to get as much young athletic talent as possible so that the team could build around them. With young players like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, and Sean Kilpatrick on the team already, the Nets were looking for more young guards and wings to play a more up-tempo style of basketball. With the knowledge (as stated above), the team decided to trade power forward Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers in order to get their first round pick. They used that pick to draft Caris LeVert, a 6-6 shooting guard from Michigan. They were also able to draft Brooklyn native Isaiah Whitehead out of (THE Hall) Seton Hall in the second round.
*Photo via USA Today
The next step of the process was to see what other players the team could sign in free agency, and to be judicious with their prospects and money. With the rising climate of the salary cap market, the Nets knew they would have to either over-pay to get the players they wanted, or (Plan ‘N’), cripple other teams with their offers.
This is where the Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe deals come in. The Nets’ plan was simple: either add other young talent at all costs, or cripple the teams that match our offer sheets. The Nets offered Johnson a “poison pill” deal, knowing that the Miami Heat might have been in a position that they would have to match it. Around the league, GM’s knew that Heat owner Micky Arison really like Johnson, and wanted him to be one of the young pieces of the Heat’s future along with Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow.
The Nets could afford to overpay for Johnson, while the Heat would really have to eat the money owed to Johnson if they matched. With Dwayne Wade deciding to sign with the Chicago Bulls, it made the move to get Johnson a lot easier, but his contract will hurt them in the long run.
The same goes for Crabbe. Crabbe’s improvement was very important for the Portland Trail Blazers’ future, and the team wanted to keep him to continue the momentum that the team had last year. Portland had signed Even Turner to a max deal before re-signing Crabbe, but still thought that Crabbe was an important piece to the team that they matched his offer sheet as well.
All a part of the plan. With the signing, the Trail Blazers won’t be able to get much better than where they were last year. They will continue to over achieve as long as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum continue to stay healthy and play well. They won’t however, be able to be a legit threat to a title. Also, with now almost $200 million assigned to one position (shooting guard), it will be hard to keep the guard rotation consistent to justify the spending. The Nets might have missed out on two more prospects, but buy losing them, the Nets were able to hurt the future of the teams they lost out to.
The future is the most important part in all of this. “Plan ‘N’” is all about the long run. The Nets got into this bad predicament because of their obsessed plan to win now at all costs. When that failed, the Nets were stuck with no present, past, or future. Now, with “Plan ‘N,”’ the Nets be able to build for the future, while doing to other teams what they did to themselves over the past five years.
*Photo via USA Today
So yes, Nets fan will have to pretend like they are excited about Luis Scola, Jeremy Lin, and Randy Foye for now. But if the young guys can continue to improve, by 2020, the Nets might have one of the best young team in the league, while other franchises like the Heat and Portland will still be stuck in mediocre purgatory. So yes, plans A-M failed miserably, but “Plan ‘N’” is now underway, and it’s off to an amazing start.
So relax, sit back, kick your feet up, and watch the beautiful progress that is “Plan ‘N’” commence. And with every loss, with every time the Nets lose out on tier two and three free agents, and with every underwhelming free agent signing taking its place, just take a deep breath, smile and say “it’s all according to plan. All according to plan.”