• Alec Sturm

The Brooklyn Big 3: The Targets and Trades

The Nets have been rumoured to be in the trade market for a third star for some time now. Here's a look at the main targets and the trades it will take it get it done.

Jrue Holiday

In some ways, Jrue Holiday is my favorite trade candidate for the Brooklyn Nets. His unmatched ability to play both on and off the ball would be valuable to the Nets. In his early years in Philadelphia as well as his few in New Orleans, Holiday handled point guard duties in both cities.

In 2017, ball-handling wizard Rajon Rondo joined Jrue in the Big Easy, consequently sliding Holiday over to the shooting guard position, where he's remained ever since. Pulling off a trade of this magnitude would likely require one of Brooklyn's big trade chips –– Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie –– the two ball handlers. Holiday would be inserted into the starting lineup next to Kyrie Irving, where he could play his primary position, and in some lineups he could act as the point guard. When playing with Irving, Holiday would be able to make up for Kyrie's defensive shortcomings but also allowing Irving to allocate energy to the offense, where he thrives.

New Orleans Receives: Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, 2020 IND Second Round Pick

Brooklyn Receives: Jrue Holiday

Caris LeVert would slide right into New Orleans' vacancy at shooting guard, being able to both space the floor –– a 38% shooter from deep this past year –– and create for himself. New Orleans' young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball are all much younger and unlike Holiday, LeVert's age matches up nicely with that timeline.

He seems poised for a breakout year after showing real promise towards the end of last season. It is also worth mentioning that New Orleans' GM is Trajan Langdon, a former Nets assistant GM, who would likely think highly of LeVert.

As for Prince, he is considered a reclamation project at this point in his career. Once a promising young player for the Atlanta Hawks, Hawks management seemed eager to let go of him and was a throw-in in a draft-night deal in 2019, sending him to Brooklyn. The Nets and GM Sean Marks felt they had found another diamond in the rough. The harsh reality, however, was that –– so far –– the Hawks have been right; Prince had a rather disappointing season. Perhaps New Orleans believes that they could ignite the spark Prince showed early in his career.

Bradley Beal

Bradley Beal has become one of the most enticing trade candidates in the league for a few years now. Once seen as injury-prone and second fiddle to John Wall, Beal has seamlessly become the Wizards' no 1 option while Wall sits, rehabbing an Achilles injury. All the while, Beal has shed his injury-prone label, only missing 5 games since the beginning of the 2016-17 season.

This past year, Beal averaged 30 points and 6 assists per game and led the Wizards to the 11th best offense, an impressive feat when taking into account the lack of defensive talent on their roster. Beal ranks 10th in the league in ESPN's ORPM (Offensive Real Plus/Minus) stat and could be the piece that pushes Brooklyn over the edge. An offense with Beal, Durant, and Irving is borderline unstoppable.

On the other end of the floor, Beal's defensive ability has been on a downward spiral over the past few seasons. After being a good defender early on in his playing career, he posted his worst ever Defensive Rating this past season –– 117 –– and the Wizards stood dead last in defense in the entire league. If the Nets can surround this star-studded core with top-end defensive talent, much like what Beal had played with earlier in his career, his defensive abilities shouldn't be an issue, especially when accounting for his fantastic athleticism.

Nets receive: Bradley Beal

Wizards Receive: Caris Levert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, Rodions Kurcus, 2020 First (Via Philadelphia), 2022 First, 2020 Second (Via Indiana), 2021 Second (Via Atlanta)

As for the Wizards, they're expecting an offer they can't refuse. Bradley Beal has been in trade rumors for years, and Wizards management has held onto him through it all. In return for Beal, Washington would be looking for an armada of future draft picks and young players to rebuild around and join the young players in the nation's capital of Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and Moritz Wagner.

LeVert has shown signs of developing into All-Star level talent, and Jarrett Allen is already a top tier rim protector at the age of 22. Admittedly, Beal being dealt this offseason is unlikely. The Wizards were a 9 seed last year and are still interested in returning to the playoffs, if possible. John Wall is finally returning from his Achilles injury, and the team would like to see their star backcourt play together again before completely rebuilding. However, if Wall's athleticism is sapped and the group doesn't mesh, a trade deadline deal is possible.

Aaron Gordon

Magic Receive: Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince

Nets Receive: Aaron Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams (Sign and Trade)

Aaron Gordon has been a Nets mock trade darling for years. And whether it was from his flying abilities, defensive prowess, or newly started rap career, Aaron Gordon is a known commodity. Brooklyn won't be bringing him in for his prolific dunking skills, however. Aaron Gordon will fill a much-needed role for the Nets, one they've been yearning for over the years: a versatile, 3-and-D power forward. He fills similar needs for the Nets as Jrue Holiday, except at the power forward position.

I expect Brooklyn with Durant –– who stands at nearly 7 feet –– at the center position this year, and Aaron Gordon is the perfect power forward to complete that frontcourt. In theory, he could also play with Durant and a center (likely DeAndre Jordan), although Gordon’s shooting percentage would have to creep back up to league average, which he’s done before. The main worry with Gordon is, in fact, that long range jump shot, but with more open attempts in Brooklyn his inconsistencies may evaporate.

Along with Gordon, the Nets should target Michael Carter-Williams, another Magic player. He’s a sizable point guard who has had a rejuvenation of sorts in Orlando, after cratering since his ROY honors. He’s a great defensive player who can guard both backcourt positions and some forwards and would be a fantastic counterpart to Chris Chiozza, Brooklyn’s other backup point guard. Chiozza is a small, crafty creator, unlike the larger MCW, who also focuses on the defensive end.

The Nets should first offer any reasonable combination of picks along with assets that don’t include Spencer Dinwiddie, but it’s expected for Orlando to request Dinwiddie, as he has been an interest of theirs in trade talks in the past. The two players are about of equal value to their respective teams, and both fill clear gaps in their rotations. Markelle Fultz may have improved this season for the Magic, but he’s still a below average point guard who’s shooting is a liability. Dinwiddie would slide right in and run that Magic offense with Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac, and Nikola Vucevic better than any other point guard they’ve seen.

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