NBA Offseason Rankings: Where do the Nets Stand?

The NBA offseason is not complete.

But at this point, other than Capela, Smart, Hood, Nwaba, and Harrell, the free agency cupboard is barren. And barring a trade, most rosters are essentially set.

With that, it is time for some offseason rankings.  These rankings take the following factors into account:

  1. How much better or worse did a team get: this obviously matters, after all
  2. How well did teams do, in comparison to their options: Essentially, offseasons cannot be judged in a vacuum.  For example, the Sixers upgraded more than the Jazz did.  But the Sixers had a ton of cap room, to strike big.  On the other hand, the Jazz lacked flexibility, so it made sense to run it back with a good team. The Sixers probably upgraded more.  But did they really do better given their hopes?
  3. How important were the good and bad moves: counting moves and grading them is not critical.  The impact is what matters.  The Lakers, for example, made more bad moves than good ones. But their one good move trumps all.
  4. Thought Process: you lose points if your moves reflect a thought process that is #hyperconcerning for your direction, and vice versa.

By necessity, thirty ranked teams means the analysis, for each, will only be brief.  In addition, only significant moves and non moves will be mentioned.

With that, on to the rankings (from worst to best).

30) Cavs: Sorry. When you lose LeBron, you had the worst offseason in the league. Collin Sexton may become a nice player, and with Channing Frye, the Cavs have the luxury of giving him floor spacing, even if they trade Kevin Love. But, it’s mLeBron freaking James.

29) Rockets: Tillman Fertitta was supposed to buy the Rockets and spend.  So far he has penny pinched. Letting Ariza walk to save money was awful; James Ennis will not bridge the gap.  A team this close needs to go for it, not pull back.  Especially when Chris Paul is on a now gigantic contract — the goal should have been to go all in on the front end of his deal, knowing you will pay the price when he starts aging on the back end of the deal. Given the magnitude of the loss, and how close Houston is, this qualifies as an awful offseason – even if Capela is retained.

28) Hornets: Charlotte should be opening flexibility to surround Kemba Walker — not taking on contracts like Mozgov and Biyombo to save money. Alas, this is what happens when an owner puts his wallet over the good of the team. Enjoy your cut of the luxury tax savings, Hornets fans! Oh, wait.

27) Pelicans: Yes, Julius Randle can play.  But letting Cousins walk for nothing is a big blow.  Not just on the court next year, but going forward.  The Pelicans should have made it work with him and Davis, or dealt Cousins if it did not. This is the type of player defection that could frustrate the Brow.  In three years, we could be reading articles about Brow on another team, and a choice like this serving as a source of frustration that sewed the seeds for his departure.  For that, they are buried in these rankings.

26) Hawks: Derision is deserved here. With the third pick in the draft and a ton of cap space, the possibilities at the draft seemed endless. The Hawks, however, put ticket sales over the best interests of the organization, trading down for Trae Young and refusing a first rounder to obtain Jeremy Lin.  A GM is hancuffed when an owner hijacks the process. In a vacuum the Hawks added a lot this summer.  In context, a HUGE opportunity to add young talent was blunted, for $$$$.

25) Blazers: If the Blazers were going to penny pinch on all of their decent role players, they never should have handed out big commitments in 2016 that locked them into a good but not great core.  The Blazers’ offseason of cheapness has been befuddling. Fortunately for them, they had little options this offseason anyway, so their poor tactics have not really caused any harm.

24) 76ers: This is here for disappointment. A summer of grandeur became the summer of kicking the can down the road. And with extensions coming for the kids they don’t have too many more chances to do that. This was a critical offseason, and a huge lost opportunity to pay outside stars before their drafted stars eat flexibility.

23) Wolves: Similar to Portland, Minnesota acted super weird this summer with the Tolliver replacement of Bjelica, but with little flexibility in tow, they did nothing actively harmful. Butler declining an extension was a financially responsible decision stay or go, so that is not a factor here.  Still, a big offseason to improve was lost, before Butler hits his UFA summer.

22) Bulls: Why deal Jimmy Butler to pay big money to Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker.  Jabari will not want a paycut off his absurd $20 million figure next year. The Bulls should have rented their vast space for a first — not paid Jabari Parker.

21) Clippers: I am ok with Jordan walking given the price tag but not getting a deadline asset stings. And the Clippers have deliberately entered a phase that I dislike when some teams lose stars. Rather than taking their medicine and rebuilding, they want to show the star and fans they are still strong, so they keep trying to win to prove the point. LA, even without Jordan is too good to tank but not good enough to compete, but also lacks high end young talent.  Not a good place to be unless a star bails them out with their cap room.

20) Kings: Signing LaVine was not smart but has been absolved.  Otherwise the Kings have not done much of anything. They still have a ton of cap space despite a barren free agent pool — so they can improve their summer if they find a first rounder.

19) Heat: Miami has literally done nothing this summer because they capped themselves out in 2016.  This is why I harped on their being in a bad spot last year — having a mediocre, round 1 speed bump ceiling, with a capped out future, is a bad place to be.

18) Celtics: Ranking Boston ahead of some teams that improved more (Boston has not really done anything) is an example of not judging offseasons in a vacuum.  With such a strong roster in place, and little flexibility, Boston had few options to improve — and not many areas in which they can improve.  Largely standing pat, while gambling if Robert Williams will fill the void of rim protector — is fine. This ranking goes down if Marcus Smart walks, or is severely overpaid.

17) Knicks: By picking in their slotted position (note: I am not judging any picks until the regular season — summer league means 0), and adding Hezonja, the Knicks essentially rolled things into 2019, getting a little better without doing anything harmful.

16) Jazz: The Jazz were smart to largely run it back, and roll things into next summer’s cap space.  Bringing Jerebko back would have been nice, but waiving him was not a huge error.

15) Magic: Orlando essentially drafted Mo Bamba where slotted pre draft, and rearranged deck chairs. But with limited assets, they could not do much more.

14) Nuggets: Can we rank ownership differently than general management.  As for the GM, the strategy of knowing they need a boost to contend, and thus choosing to take risks on Michael Porter and Isaiah Thomas, rather than playing it safe and knowing you won’t move the needle, is smart.  Ownership, on the flip side, has been brutal.  Denver dealt a first rounder and three second rounders, for no future gain.  All they did was dump three EXPIRING contracts — saving money came first, over hoarding as many assets as possible.  An important thing, for a team with limited future options to improve.

13) Spurs: I am mixed regarding the Spurs’ Kawhi return.  On one hand, if the goal in a trade is to remain competitive, they would have been very hard pressed to beat a DeRozan led package. On the other hand, should the goal be competing rather than rebuilding? This feels like a missed opportunity to grab assets.

12) Wizards: When good teams who are noncontenders are capped out, I love when they take risks on high ceiling talent. The Wizards are in win now mode, and need a boost to become contenders; but they had no cap room. I much prefer a risk on a piece like Dwight – who COULD be that boost — rather than a clear role player.  Tolliver got Dwight money — we KNOW that does nothing. At least take a chance.  Washington gets a ding for Dwight’s player option, but I like the thought process.

11) Nets: The Nets essentially added a mid first, control over Shabazz Napier, and opened cap space in 2019.  That makes for a solid offseason (keeping this one brief given other content on this site).

10) Pistons: The roster moves are irrelevant; Detroit basically shuffled around deck chairs. They are up this high for hiring Dwane Casey, who I think can coax more from Drummond and Reggie Jackson than Stan Van Gundy did.  In addition, paring away from a dual role coach/GM combo is a win in and of itself. This could be a playoff team now.

9) Grizzlies: This is a weird team to rank.  On the one hand I hate the process of turning down a pick for Tyreke just to piss him off and drive him to walk, and the process of seeking to win now (ownership, once again), despite being so far from contention. On the other hand, Kyle Anderson was a nice signing, and if Jaren Jackson is the goods, none of this matters – results would trump process.

8) Pacers: The Pacers ranking lower than the Lakers is an example for the fact that big moves matter most.  The Pacers made an assortment of strong moves on the margins, adding Tyreke, McDermott, and Kyle O’Quinn to last year’s roster, together with Aaron Holiday.  This was a shining example of how to operate when you have some cap limitations.  But multiple good moves aside, one great move is a trump card.

7) Mavs:  If you are going to pay players instead of renting space for picks, you better pay good ones. Dallas at least did that with Jordan. For the first time in years, the roster has a true structure going forward.  Things can take off if Doncic pans out.

6) Suns: Phoenix does need a veteran point guard to feed their kids — Knight is a risk. But I love the idea of consolidating assets to move up in the draft to get a better kid in the present (to improve the core), and adding Ariza’s leadership and on court productivity. The Suns had a strong offseason.

5) Raptors: I love the Leonard trade for them.  They were staring at either 3 years of being a pretender before either launching a rebuild or paying max money for DeRozan’s 30’s (bleh), or a rebuild.  They had no cap space or assets to build a contender. The Kawhi deal was the ONLY means they had to potentially contend. In the worst case scenario, a necessay rebuild is expedited.  In the best case, Toronto has itself a contender for years to come.

4) Bucks: Not finding an asset for Jabari Parker was bad asset management. That said, asset management of small assets is overrated — only big transactions really matter (the Lakers have not exactly aced asset management – does it matter now?).  The Bucks are ranked this high for two reasons.  First, the one issue they had was an outdated offense.  Budenholzer was the PERFECT coach for this team, and they got him.  This hire truly could be transformative.  Second, Lopez was a strong addition and should thrive under a coach so similar to Kenny Atkinson.

3) Warriors:  The champs came into the summer with no cap space.  They came out with an all star center in DeMarcus Cousins and strong role player in Jonas Jerebko.  JaVale McGee was the only defection of any import.  Some worry about the Cousins fit.  But if he does not fit, they can cut him, and at their miniature price point, he was the best talent they could add — and the only talent that could solve their one weakness, which is their play up front. The reward potential, that Cousins upgrades their ceiling, is great. This was an excellent offseason on the bay.

2) Thunder: OKC did not upgrade the roster much, but bottom line: they bet on themselves with Paul George, and it worked. Him and Russ are in the fold long term, Nerlens Noel shores up the frontcourt rotation, and Melo is on the way out, which should be subtraction by addition.  With Russ and PG in full flight, and good (read: not Melo) fits around them, the Thunder can challenge out west for a long time.

1) Lakers: You sign LeBron freaking James, you win the offseason, period. Sure, the moves to surround him were awful — they reflect a lack of understanding of the modern game from Magic Johnson, and LeBron himself. But because they were 1 year deals, and the Lakers hit the deadline market and 2019 summer with LeBron, a cache of good young talent, and (in the summer) max cap space, the bad 1 year deals don’t really matter — a title winner was never coming in year 1.


Sean Marks’ Presser: What Do His Comments Mean?

Sean Marks gave his first press conference today since the draft.

His comments regarding the roster were revealing, in terms of what is coming for Nets fans.

Here is an analysis of his quotes — and what they really mean.

On the roster as a whole:

the quotes: 1: “as we stand now, this is the group and we have no plans to make any crazy changes, whether that’s an extension or signing or trade anyone else. But things happen quickly.” … 2: obviously we want floor spacers … we’ll see if that happens … between now and training camp, or we just roll with the guys we have.”

-extra quote on a DLO extension: “for now we’re good to see how this group plays together, how it all unfolds … I’m not going to rule out anything.”

the translation: First, by Marks mentioning he has no plans to make changes, he is not, as of now, planning a significant roster move – what you see is likely what you get (or close) this season. However, Marks is certainly not ruling a deal out – there just is not a plan to overturn it further at this point.

In addition, Marks is clearly not looking to work out an extension, with DLO – or RHJ or Dinwiddie. As it stands, Mark’s wants to “see how this group plays together.”

What does he mean? That next year is a trial run, to see, now that the fat from last year is trimmed, Who Marks wants to move forward with after next year – and who he does not want to move forward with. That means every Net is under a microscope – including DLO and the other “core” players.

Next year is an evaluation year – for the whole roster. And nobody is safe for 2019-2020.


the quote: “it’s a big year for everybody.”

the translation: one way to look at this is that Marks is deflecting questions on DLO as the face of the team, to take pressure off him. Another way to look at it, is that Marks is not yet sold enough on DLO to declare him as the face of the franchise.

On signing Napier despite having DLO and Spencer:

-The Quote: “You can see what happened in the past where having depth at that position is something that we need. At any time where you’re able to add talent . . . that’s something that will help us long term.”

The Translation: First, Marks believes that having Napier helps the Nets this year. However, Napier is too good to be a third strong point guard, particularly when LeVert is on the roster. Thus, the long term reference is surprising. That could be a potential tell, in that Marks is hedging his bets on DLO and Spencer by having a third important piece in house at the position.

On Jahlil Okafor:

The Quote: “I won’t comment on Jahlil. Because he’s not here right now.”

The Translation: So long, farewell, Jah.

Marks on 2019-2020:

the quote: “I think the group we have now will certainly add to what we’re doing presently … and the sky’s the limit to the expectations a year from now.”

the translation: the Nets absolutely intend to build a contender, or the start of one, for 2019-2020. And as described above, no player is safe.

-Hat tip to the staff (Anthony Puccio and Brian Fonseca) and Brian Lewis of the NY Post, for their reporting

The Nets Rebuild is Nice. But it Rides on One Guy.

The Nets’ offseason is not finished.  However, with 14 guaranteed players under contract, a 15th player’s D-League rights secured, and no cap room left, the meat and potatoes of the offseason are cooked, barring a surprise trade.

To the Nets’ credit — and they deserve a lot of credit — they added a first and second round pick, opened up substantial cap space in 2019, and added young talent, in Musa, Kurucs, and Pinson. The Nets also added quality young veterans, in Napier, Ed Davis, Faried, and Arthur, whom address weaknesses in the short term.

All of this is good. The Nets made quality incremental progress this summer.  If they want to win now, and sell stars on their progress, they are slightly more equipped to do that.  If they want to trade for a star, they are substantially more equipped, asset wise, to bid.  And if they want to tank, they have more picks and cost controlled young players to get things started with.

With all of this said, progress has been incremental — not exponential.  The players most likely to help them on court – Davis and Napier — are career reserves.  And the players and picks most likely to help in the future — the 29th pick in Musa and a pick between 13-30 from Denver — project as helpful assists, not stars.

With that said, we come back to D’Angelo Russell.  DLO is the only player on the Nets who has the potential to be a tentpole star.  Some may take that as a swipe at Allen or LeVert: it is not.  Even if both reached their unlikely ceilings, as Capela and Iguodala types (likely a big reach for LeVert), players like that are not good enough to be tentpole stars.

DLO, however, does have that type of ceiling.  If things break right, he can potentially be the fulcrum of an elite offense, as an elite scorer and precise passer.  Will DLO reach this ceiling?  On one hand, you do not put up the type of monster games that he has, if you are not a superb talent.  His talent, especially if he shoots the 3 better, is unquestionable.

On the other hand, DLO has yet to show that he can translate his ability into on court value — he is currently a great talent, but not a great player.  In fact, he is currently a negative on court player.

The Nets were better when DLO sat, than when he played. On the flip side, the Nets were better when Dinwiddie played, than when he sat.  They were also notably better when Dinwiddie paired with Carroll, RHJ, or LeVert, than when DLO paired with those players. Plus minus numbers do have noise.  LeVert’s rise after a slow start, Allen’s growth from his initial awkwardness, and Crabbe’s improvement after a nervy start, all came when DLO was hurt.  That said, even during DLO’s strong start before the injury, the Nets played better when Dinwiddie played, and substantially worse when DLO sat.

It is not hard to see why DLO has not made teammates better — yet.  When Dinwiddie is the Nets point guard, other than in late game situations when he forces the issue, the ball moves.  As a result, players move.  That moves the defense out of optimal defensive positions, into suboptimal ones, which creates good shots.  Quite distinctly, the ball stagnates when DLO plays.  He likes to hold it, survey, then pursue his own shot. While he surveys, the Nets’ players stand around, knowing a pass is not coming, and the defense remains set — ready for the next move.

That type of isolation basketball may work when you isolate around LeBron or James Harden.  It does not otherwise.  For DLO, it resulted in a lot of contested long 2’s — other than on nights where his jumper cooked, he underwhelmed.

If DLO uses his talent to make quicker decisions and contort defenses, he can completely flip the script on all of these issues.  But it might not happen. Some guys get it, and some don’t.

And at the end of the day, for all the talk of a mid first round pick, Ed Davis, and Napier, DLO is the one piece that truly matters — because he is the one piece whose growth (or lack thereof) most impacts what the next step must be.  Without a doubt, the Nets, on paper, are more equipped to win and sell stars on Brooklyn, trade for stars, or launch a tanking project.

However, when 2019 comes, the Nets will need to choose.  Sell stars on Brooklyn? Trade for stars? Or launch a tanking project? If the Nets are tanking, they should not want to extend Dinwiddie, RHJ, DeMarre Carroll, or perhaps even DLO himself.  If the Nets are looking to win, however, they may want those pieces to flank their splashy 2019 acquisitions.

So why does DLO matter so much?  Because he is the piece who will ultimately define what course they should, or even can, pursue.  On one hand, he is so talented, that if he meets his potential head on, he can make the Nets a bonafide draw for star talent.  On the other, if he flatlines, there is nothing here for a star to join, and a team led by Spencer Dinwiddie cannot credibly justify a win now effort in lieu of tanking.

Sean Marks? You have had a good offseason. And now? Your signature acquisition’s progress, or lack thereof, must determine your next step.

Nets Trade? THAT Is A Trade!!

Four days ago, I indicated in this space that the Nets, to date, had not advanced their rebuild forward this summer?  Now? They sure have.

By now, you all know the terms of the Lin and Faried trades, for the Nets:

-in: 2019 first rounder (top 12 protected), 2020 second rounder, Faried, Arthur

-out: Lin, Whitehead, 2023 second round swap, 2025 second rounder

When you cut to the chase, the Nets essentially dealt Lin, $7,867,540 in cap space, and a 2023 second round pick swap, for a 2019 first rounder from a team that picked 14 the last two years.

This is an EXCELLENT DEAL for the Nets. Sean Marks delivered. That cannot be spun otherwise. Here are some reactions.


I. Getting a First is A Big Time Strike

First round picks, as I frequently bemoan, are nearly impossible to come by. Look at the Wilson Chandler deal for seconds, the trade deadline, and the lack of ability to move into or up the First Round of the 2018 draft: teams are loathe to deal first rounders, and only do so when they are desperate (see: Cleveland dealing a first to surround LeBron at the deadline).

With a Nuggets ownership group evidently hellbent on tax avoidance, the Nets found a desperate scenario. They had to take advantage, because these opportunities are rare.

Put most simply, the Nets traded a veteran not in their plans, and “role player” size cap space, for a likely mid first round pick. In a rebuild, that is a great get.


II. Risks? Sure. But all trades have them and this deal is too good to pass up.

Show me a risk free trade and you will not actually show me a trade. For all we know, every piece in this trade becomes inconsequential and the Nets’ 2025 second rounder becomes the next Draymond Green. Nobody has a crystal ball.

That said, this is a good trade. The risk reward proposition here is extremely favorable for Brooklyn. I see three risks, all reasily worth taking.

First, start with Lin. The apparent risk would be that he plays well this year, and becomes worth an asset at the deadline. However, it must be noted – the Nets could not make their deal with Denver, without dealing Lin – they could only, in that instance, take in one of Faried or Arthur. The Nuggets needed to deal BOTH to evade the tax.

Refer to the Chandler deal – the Nuggets only dealt second rounders. If the Nets did not take on both bad contracts, the Nuggets only would have sent them second rounders – or at best, the first but with much heavier protections.

Accordingly, the only way dealing Lin bites them, is if, at the deadline, he becomes worth MORE than the top 12 protected first rounder acquired here. That is unlikely, even if a best case Lin scenario. And the only way the Nets could even try to realize that scenario, would have been to deprive DLO and Dinwiddie of minutes and responsibility – an outcome that in and of itself has negative consequences.

On balance, the Nets made the correct decision taking this Lin related risk.

As for the second risk, it is that the Nets did not optimally eat cap space here. I do not buy that. The best player to sign within the space the Nets had, pre trade, was Julius Randle. In theory, losing out on Randle (who probably would have chosen the Pelicans even if the Nets pursued him), is the biggest risk they took. This risk, however, is justified.  As I have said since day one, first rounders are more valuable in a rebuild than non stars about to get paid. The Nets are better off with this cost controlled mid first, than being faced with paying Randle big money or losing him in 2019. And once again – that would have been the best case scenario – the likely scenario would have been paying a role player.

The third group of risks – that one of Whitehead or the outgoing seconds becomes a critical piece (not likely) or that Faried or Arthur become malcontents (not likely but they can be cut if they do) can fairy be characterized as too inconsequential to nix a deal this sweet.


III. The Nets Cap As Of Now and What Comes Next

With the trade made, the Nets, in short, have between $2.6-$2.7 million in cap room, with thirteen players under contract, and Pinson’s D league rights (this structure persists until Harris and Davis are inked):

-PG: DLO: $7,019,698, Dinwiddie: $1,656,092

-SG: Crabbe: $18,500,000, LeVert: $1,702,800

-SF: Carroll: $15,400,000, Harris: $1,512,601 hold, Musa: $1,632,240 estimate

-PF: RHJ: $2,470,357, Arthur: $7,964,912, Kurucs: $1,620,480 estimate

-C: Allen: $2,034,120, Davis: $0 hold (room exception), Faried ($13,764,045)

-D League rights: Pinson (Exhibit 10 no charge)

-Dead $: Dwight: $18,919,725, The Stretch-man: $5,474,787

-Holds: Doyle: $1,349,383, Acy: $1,512,601 (Nets likely renounced one to make this deal work)

-Off the cap: Webb III, Cunningham, and Okafor (renounced), Foye (likely renounced for this to occur), Stauskas and Mozgov (on new teams)


With scant cap space left, and only two guaranteed roster spots to fill, the Nets’ offseason, barring another significant trade, mostly is complete aside from finishing touches.

Personally, I would move one or two of the about to be free agent kids; the Nets, I still believe, should prioritize cost controlled youth over about to be paid non star youth.

However, the Nets may see this, instead, as a year to evaluate all of their young players, then decide, at midseason or in the summer, who stays and goes.  In the worst case, they let everyone walk and have two lottery picks and gobs of cap space to add more picks in 12 months — not an awful scenario.

Also possible, while asset maximization is huge, is that the Nets may feel their pieces would only fetch a small return, but in trading them they risk: (1) trading a player that could be a future core piece; and (2): that the team wins less games, and is thus less attractive to stars. If the Nets’ entire body of work, caused by all the young pieces, yields a star, and a young piece is lost for nothing, the net gain of the star outweighs the asset take so significantly, as to largely render it null — nobody is bagging on the Lakers for losing Randle for nothing.  I am not a huge fan of assuming these risks, but I understand them — especially with two firsts in the coffer as mitigation.


IV. Other quick hitter reactions

-The protections on the picks, particularly the first after 2019, have not been revealed. Those are of interest,

-This trade is obviously about the incoming picks. But it should be noted that Arthur and Faried have some ability,  and do fill short term needs up front.  I do not expect a Carroll revelation.  But I also do not expect a Mozgov situation. Arthur is a good locker room guy. Faried has the potential to be a quality spark plug.

-Obviously, it would be amazing if the Nets strike gold on next summer’s free agent market.  But if they finish in the lottery, and stars do not want to join a rebuild (frankly, a likely scenario), the hope is that trades like this are the model for how the Nets operate next summer, as opposed to signing B and C class free agents just to show fans, during the spending spree, that they too were involved.  I certainly trust Marks in this regard, and I hope the patience of Prokhorov and Joe Tsai continues.

-As for Tsai, is extremely encouraging that the Nets, in what is still likely to be a losing year, prioritized their rebuild over the marketing and ticket sales impact Lin undoubtedly has. After discussion that Lin was Tsai’s favorite player, #hyperconcern the Nets would want him around as a byproduct was justifiable.  Through this trade, and Tsai’s classiness, as seen on his Twitter account, the Nets axed that concern, emphatically. Good on them.

-The Hawks deserve some derision here.  There is no reason why they could not have been the team getting Denver’s first.  Instead, they eat Lin’s deal for a distant second, and a second round pick swap.  For an organization that has penny pinched before, and is clearly embarking on a rebuild, the deal reeks of #hyperconcern, on their end, that ticket sales were prioritized here over doing what is best for the organization.

-As for the Nuggets, I am tired of teams being praised for making moves where they dump assets just to save ownership $, that have 0 other benefit. Tim Connelly has done extremely well this summer, adding two high upside talents in Michael Porter and Isaiah Thomas despite asset and flexibility limitations.  But ownership (this is on them not him) essentially ordered that FOUR picks (one first and three seconds) be sacrificed, just to shed three expiring deals (Chandler, Arthur, Faried).  The players expire next summer (so there is no future benefit) and the moves did not open cap space to add different pieces this summer (so there is no present benefit). This is nothing but an owner throwing away picks to save money. That is not worth praising.





Do the Nets have options this summer? They had better.

The first week of free agency is officially over, and the Nets have done the following this offseason: draft Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs, resign Joe Harris, and sign Ed Davis.

The short of the present: the Nets have as much as $10,164,673 in cap space this summer, and as little as $3,602,689 in space, as follows (italicized items are assumed):

1: Deals on the books come to $87,726,295: Crabbe: $18,500,000, Carroll: $15,400,000, Lin: $12,516,476, DLO: $7,019,698, RHJ: $2,470,357; Allen: $2,034,120; LeVert: $1,702,800; Dinwiddie: $1,656,092 (assuming he’s not cut because that’s a no brainer); Musa: $1,632,240 (his cap hold); Pinson (no hold or coming figure for Exhibit 10 pieces); Dwight: $19,319,725 (splitting the difference in the Bontemps and Scotto reports); Dead Stretch Money: $5,474,787.

2: Holds/Exceptions being worked around come to $1,512,601: Harris: $1,512,601 hold; Davis $0 hold (Nets can circle back to both after other business)

3: Nonguaranteed deals, uncertain signings and questionable cap holds, come to $9,027,415: Doyle ($1,349,383 hold), Whitehead: $1,544,951 ($844,951 guaranteed per, Acy: $1,512,601 hold, Foye ($3,000,000 hold), Kurucs ($1,620,480 salary, the 120% scale for the last pick of the first round, given reports of an agreement via and others).

4: Off the cap: Webb III, Cunningham and Okafor (renounced), Stauskas and Mozgov (on new teams)

The Nets cap space is variable, per the above.  The Dwight buyout may be over or under the $4.5 million listed.  Musa could sign below the 120% rookie scale figure (unlikely). Kurucs could sign for more or less than the above rookie scale figure.  And the Nets can waive Whitehead, and renounce Doyle, Whitehead, Acy, and Foye

However, one this is SURE: Marks needs to do SOMETHING to advance this process forward.

The Nets, since the trade deadline, have done virtually nothing to advance this rebuild besides add cap space in 2019. They face a dilemma: they are close to becoming a “treadmill team” in the middle of the standings.

Want to pitch free agents on the Nets and contend? They just went 28-54, and their chief addition, win column wise, is Ed Davis. He is not moving that needle. Most of the league will be armed with cap space, and the Nets, at this point, figure to pitch 4 straight lotto bound seasons (and a fifth sub .500 season).

Speaking frankly, the Nets cannot credibly add Ed Davis to a 28-54 team, and pitch stars on this product.  Repeatedly, free agents are choosing the teams where they feel they can win the most.

On the other hand, want to pitch a rebuild? The best rebuilds are payroll light and asset heavy.  The Nets are poised to be the opposite; payroll heavy and pick light.

As for the payroll, DLO, Dinwiddie, and RHJ are all getting extensions next summer; Joe Harris just got one, Allen Crabbe would be wise to opt in, and that stretched Deron money is still on the books.  Caris LeVert is then due his extension in 2020, and the Nets did not get Allen Crabbe to be a bad contract.

As for the picks? The best rebuilds are stockpiled with multiple extra picks, per year. The Nets? They have their firsts going forward, but no other firsts, and they face a deficit of seconds, with three outgoing and only one incoming through 2021 per RealGM.

Just look at other rebuilds.  The Suns added the 1, 10, 31, and 59 picks this year, and have a future surplus by way of a coming Bucks first. The Hawks added players at 3, 19, and 30, and have two firsts and four seconds due in coming years from other franchises (per RealGM). The Sixers, before breaking through this year, had a massive volume of picks, at all draft levels.

With a lack of picks — and with a roster likely too good to lose 60+ games, a rebuild will be difficult for the Nets as of now.

The foregoing puts the Nets in no mans land: too good and asset light to rebuild, but not near good enough.

This brings up a cold reality: while Sean Marks has been patient, and not actively harmful to date, the Nets have been residents in no mans land since midseason in 2017-2018; nothing Marks did at the deadline mattered, and nothing Marks has done this summer, to date, has really mattered.

Personally, my opinion is that the Nets should strip this roster bare of everyone except their 3 highest end prospects – DLO, Caris, and Jarrett – and rebuild around the picks acquired plus those three pieces.  I see it as the best risk/reward proposition they can enter.  It provides the most assets possible, so that when their 2019 first rounder comes around, it is not naked, but flanked by other assets. In addition, since stars are attracted by stars not role players, the Nets relinquishing role players is not going to lessen the quality their star pitches in 2019. Frankly, only DLO exploding will attract a star, and having RHJ, Lin, Harris, or Carroll is not really changing that.

That said, if the Nets prefer not to strip the roster clean, but instead to go all in on the summer of 2019, they should be mindful of two things.  First, they need to add authentic talent this summer; not Ed Davis and Dzanan Musa to a 54 loss team. Second, if the pitches to elite players do not work, the Nets need to use their space to add picks in deals, instead of signing second rate players because “we sold this summer and fans need to see something.”  That would be out of character for Marks – but not for Prokhorov.

Some would bemoan the loss of continuity and culture.  But both are overrated. As for continuity, there is a correlation is not causation issue.  Teams are not good because they have continuity, but rather, good teams like their players and decide to keep them (and therefore good teams are correlated with not caused by continuity).  And last year, three of the four conference finalists were dramatically overhauled as compared to the year prior.  As for culture, it is good to have a quality working environment conducive to success when you have talent.  But culture is no substitute for the actual talent, and having it only benefits you as compared to a few dysfunctional franchises.

Something tells me the greatest power forward of all time, not culture, spearheaded the Spurs dynasty.

It is true that Marks cannot be reckless (and in fairness, has not been).  We saw what happens in Brooklyn when you are reckless.

That said, a GM DOES need to advance the program forward.  Marks didn’t at the deadline. So far, he hasn’t in this early part of the summer.

Will that change?