The draft has come and gone, and now free agency is a week old. As the Nets dug into their well of future assets to make the Boston trade, and are over the luxury tax (with no real shot at getting under), they are limited to one $3.3 million exception, and essentially unlimited minimum contracts in free agency. So, who can they target.
I. The Roster: 12 players. 11 guaranteed. Subtract 1 if KG retires: PG: Deron, Jack, Gutierrez, Teague. SG: Joe, Karasev SF: Kirilenko, Bogdanovic PF: Garnett, Teletovic. C: Lopez, Plumlee
II. Other Players Under the Nets Control: Draft Rights: Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson, Xavier Thames
III. Nets Players Who Are Free Agents And Could Be Back: Paul Pierce, Alan Anderson, Jason Collins
IV. The Short of It: The Nets roster is nearly full. They could have as many as 13 players already, assuming Markel Brown makes the roster, the Bogdanovic signing is made official, and KG runs it back for another year. That makes finding a reserve big to replace Blatche and keeping Pierce a priority. But Billy King is creative: with the rights to several younger pieces and some roster duplication (four point guards), don’t be surprised if the Nets make a trade: just expect it to be something relatively minor, though there is not much out there.
So Who Are the Candidates: With Bogdanovic reportedly taking the mini midlevel, the Nets are confined to the minimum with whoever they sign. As for a note on Bojan, look at the market: $4.5 million to CJ Miles and Ben Gordon. $4 million to Thabo Sefolosha. $6 million to Jodie Meeks. A higher cap yields higher salaries, and the value of $3.2 million only takes you so far. I prefer Bojan to a 9th man with limited upside: even if he’s a flop the risk is small and the Nets roster can use his upside. His smaller deal also keeps our 2016 plans intact.
The Home Runs: Can we Sell These Guys on a Paycut?:
Emeka Okafor: Having just missed the year hurt, he may prefer a one year deal to a long term deal (at a number below his norms), to reestablish his value, then reenter the market next summer. Could Brooklyn sell him on doing that while winning? I’m surely not betting on it, but as a GM you make the calls.
Rodney Stuckey: Due for a paycut after making $8.5 million, but not this steep of a cut. Still, he does not have a great reputation, and his stock may fall. The Nets could offer him a similar chance as Okafor to reestablish some value, with the same unlikelihood of it happening.
More Plausible Targets:
Anthony Tolliver: shot over 40% from 3 this year. A nice stretch 4, albeit somewhat duplicative of Mirza.
Mike Scott: Nets don’t have a need for a floor spacing big, but you can’t ever have enough shooting. May be too pricey.
Trevor Booker: A big whose primary skill is his rebounding, something this franchise does need.
Elton Brand: He’s looking at a paycut anywhere he goes. A rugged rebounder who has Lionel and Billy written all over him.
Kris Humphries: Was traded to get the Celtics guys, not because of any issues with his game. Is looking at a paycut, and we know he rebounds.
Jermaine O’Neal: Still has a bit in the tank. If only a bit.
Francisco Garcia: Could be a find on the league minimum. A quality shooter coming off a down year; Houston is in no rush to keep him as it pries space open for bigger names.
Shelvin Mack: A good defender who shoots the corner 3 well. You can certainly do worse than this with the league minimum.
Luke Ridnour: A decent option for Brooklyn. Has played competent point guard for a long time.
Brian Roberts: Has real potential as a sparkplug off the bench. Fills the Thornton role at a substantially lower number.
DJ Augustin: Played well under Tom Thibodeau after being so bad he was nearly out of the league? Is it a mirage? Could be worth exploring on a minimum deal.
Ramon Sessions: Can score, struggles to guard. A player nobody seems to want, but who produces.
James Anderson: Can’t shoot, but thrived with the Sixers last year and can both score and guard. Would be helpful off the bench.
Chris Douglas Roberts: Shot 39% from 3 last season. A mirage? Or a legitimate skill? With only the minimum to spend, why not find out?
Toure Murray: Limited offensively, but showed defensive chops for the Knicks.
Jordan Hamilton: Seen as a player with upside who has yet to stick. Gambling on him to stick in Brooklyn could be worth the gambit, though I doubt he lands in Brooklyn.