Nets fans: with this post, I am starting a series of posts, looking around the league and identifying potential trades the Nets can make.
The short of it? There is not much the Nets can do involving their big 3. With no lottery picks for 5 years, tanking and rebuilding is out of the question. The mission for the Nets? Rebuild from the middle. That requires remaining competitive, enough so that players around the league feel they can be the missing piece to something good or special, and using that relatively competitive base to attract talent. The Nets DO NOT NEED TO GET KEVIN DURANT FOR THE PLAN OF BEING FLEXIBLE TO MAKE SENSE. It is clear that the Nets need to reshape the roster, and in time, flexibility will allow that. Remember: Durant has played for exactly 0 NBA champions. He is incredible, and of course is Plan A in 2016. But the Nets must go down this road, and not getting Durant does not make that the wrong choice.
A trade today is, in short, about meeting the following goals. 1: deal Williams to increase future flexibility in 2016. 2: deal Johnson or Lopez to get better fits for the roster, or for younger, cheaper contracts that either fit the roster or are easily movable. 3: do not further dip into the future asset pool– a sub .500 team with next to 0 assets should not dip further into their assets. 4: remain competitive. If the Nets crater, they will have both no draft picks to show for that cratering, AND will look completely unattractive to future free agents. Remaining competitive is what enables a free agent to say “I can be the piece that takes them up a level.”
THE SACRAMENTO KINGS
-depth chart: Collison, McLemore, Gay, Thompson, Cousins; Sessions, Evans, Casspi Landry, Williams, Stauskas
-Why a deal could happen: the Kings M.O. under their new ownership and management group: we want to win. We want a new arena to generate excitement. We are not a free agent destination, so we need to look around the league and deal for stars, who will make a splash, allow us to acquire big name talent by forcing it in house, and provide a foundation from which to attract more talent.
-The problem: the Deron for Collison-Thompson-Williams rumor fell apart because the Kings wanted Plumlee in a deal. For the Kings to both relent on Plumlee the way he’s playing, AND surrender McLemore, would represent a large about face. Take Cousins and Gay off the table: not a chance the Kings do that. Their only valuable youth is McLemore and Stauskas. McLemore seems unattainable. While Stauskas is struggling, will the Kings just give up on him? Coincidentally, McLemore struggled last year and took huge strides this year: Sacto has an in house example of the perils of giving up on youth too quickly.
-Deal 1: Deron for Collison-Thompson-Williams. In short, this is dealing Deron to save $10 million of cap room in 2016; more if the Nets jettison Collison or Thompson by then. Thompson is not an upgrade over the Nets current bigs; Collison, even in a peak year season, cannot shoot and is generally a scorer who runs a decent offense, but does not wow you. The Nets could try to pry Stauskas (or McLemore: good luck) in such a deal. They could swap Deron for Joe, but that requires the addition of Stauskas to balance the money.
-Deal 2: Lopez for Collison-Thompson-Stauskas. The Nets could also try to get McLemore in such a package, but this feels doubtful. The Kings not only have Cousins, but fired Malone to speed the tempo: you cannot play at a fast pace with a Brook-DMC frontcourt, especially with having dealt your point guard.
THE PHOENIX SUNS
-Depth Chart: Dragic, Bledsoe, Morris, Morris, Plumlee; Tucker, Green, Len, Warren, Ennis
-Why a deal could happen: the Suns do have roster imbalance. Their perimeter is loaded, but they are light upfront.
-Words of caution: Ryan McDonough, since taking over in Phoenix, has been all about a patient rebuild (despite their success). He wants to accrue assets and deal for a signature foundational talent. It’s why they signed Isaiah Thomas despite their guard overload: they went talent over need because he sees this as a team in transition, a place harboring assets for a run at a stud, as opposed to a team trying to win now, or tinker in a win now way. They will not have any interest in Deron or Joe given the guard situation. And dealing Brook for Dragic or Bledsoe seems overly ambitious
-Deal 1: Lopez for Thomas and Tucker. Thomas and Tucker may have more value than this, and I doubt this gets done — Phoenix may prefer a better rim protector and to preserve their flexibility for a better prize, but it’s worth making the call. Stereotypes about size lead to Thomas being undervalued, and the Kings playing well without him does not help his cause. The Suns would get a look at Brook up front with their smalls. Thomas gives the Nets speed they very much need, Tucker a very nice perimeter defender. It’s a haul for Brook, one not to be expected. This does put money on the 2016 books, however, which would truly necessitate dealing Deron for expiring money.
-Deal 2: Lopez for Tucker, Len, and Ennis: This gives the Suns another look at Brook, without touching their guard stable. Sub Green for Len and the deal works. Len or Green and Ennis give the Nets some youth to look at going forward.
-Deal 3: Other variations on similar deals. The Morris twins only make around $3 million per season but run through 2018-19 on extensions, so their inclusions seem unlikely but it’s worth the call. No way is either included with Thomas, but a deal of one of them with Tucker, and filler to match Brook, could work: the problem is it requires a 3 player deal and that’s a lot to get given the skills of the Twins. Dealing for Brook is a risk for Phoenix, but perhaps they figure that, short of dealing Bledsoe or Dragic for a star, he’s the best they can get for the rest of their tradeable assets, and does provide depth at a relatively weak roster spot.
THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS
-depth chart: Lin, Kobe, Johnson, Boozer (cannot be moved until 7/1/15), Hill; Young, Davis, Price, Ellington, Sacre, Clarkson, Randle, Nash
-The good: the team is a mess. They want to hoard space and flexibility for the next Laker great but are equally tied to caring for Kobe, as a showing to him and the world that they care for their legends (so you, future legend, should come to them!). Dealing for Deron Joe or Brook does provide some win now talent for Kobe to work with.
-the bad: the Lakers are a mess. There is scant availability here.
-deal 1: Brook and Teletovic for Nash, Lin, and Randle. I strongly doubt the Lakers give up on Randle. They likely hope he either develops into a future star, or that they trade him for the future star, and this deal is not that: it’s giving up on Randle. Still, they are despearate to support Kobe late in his career, and it’s worth the call. This deal likely hurts the Nets in the immediate term, but would see them pickup a legit asset in Randle at about the cheapest price possible.
-deal 2: Deron for Lin and Hill: such a deal requires Hill’s consent (he cannot be dealt absent consent as a year 1 Bird signee because he’d forfeit Bird Rights). The Nets would essentially do such a deal to open salary, and it would essentially be a variation on the Sacto deal above. Why the Lakers would deal for him is beyond me, but maybe Kobe sees him as redeemable, especially next to Boozer. Again, the Lakers are caught between 2 worlds, and that could lead to some weird choices. This deal works with Johnson if the Lakers toss in a bit player’s salary, like Clarkson.
-deal 3: deal 2, but seeing if the Lakers would toss in Ed Davis, or Wesley Johnson. That seems overly ambitious for Brooklyn.
THE LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
-Depth Chart: Paul, Redick, Barnes, Blake, Jordan; Crawford, Hawes, Farmar, Davis, Bullock, CDR
-Why a deal could happen: The Clippers are set with Paul and Blake, and perhaps Jordan, but desperately need depth and desperately need a wing. Doc Rivers is not a good GM, and seems intent upon acquiring players that were good when he coached in Boston.
-The perils to a deal: that the Clippers need depth, but would have to send the Nets more pieces than they acquired, in order to secure a return. Get this: without touching their big 3, the Kings must swap FOUR pieces to Brooklyn to take Deron or Joe’s contract. 3 for Brook’s. (!) Good luck finding a deal absent a third team. Also: the easiest piece to match deals with is Redick — do the Kings deal him when they need wing talent?
-Deal 1: Brook, Anderson, and Jordan for Redick, Crawford, Hawes, and Bullock: the Clippers do have a need for size, and Brook gives them the best player on paper in the deal, with Jordan providing some packup. However, this deal purges their wing depth. Do not hold your breath.
-Deal 2: A similar deal involving Joe rather than Brook but the Clippers must send more salary back.
The Short of it: There’s nothing here absent a third team. The Clippers just can’t make it work, and they’re not dealing Jordan for Brook.
THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
-Depth Chart: Curry, Thompson, Green, Barnes, Bogut; Iguodala, Speights, Lee, Livingston, Barbosa, Ezeli
-Why a deal could get done: The Warriors have a specific need: talent up front. That could facilitate a deal for Lopez, Garnett, or even Jordan — they just desperatelt need help behind Bogut
-Why a deal won’t get done: With their loaded backcourt and wings/rangy 3’s, there’s no use for Deron and Joe. Also, why rock the boat when things are going this well? Do not expect Curry, Thompson, Bogut, Green, Barnes, or Iguodala in ANY deal.
-Deal 1: Lopez and Mirza for Lee and Livingston: Lee is the one piece the Nets can get, but what does he add. The Nets want to ditch Lopez because: he’s a scorer whose (allegedly) ineffective on the other end, he’s slow, he does not make the “winning” play, and he is not multidimensional. David Lee? Hello to the shorter, less upside, older version of Lopez. This deal provides the Warriors with a better big behind Bogut, and in their free flowing offense they may love Mirza as a fit. Livingston gets to be with the Nets team that did intrigue him if they could pay him, and provides a defensive boost.
-Deal 2: Garnett for Lee and a first rounder. This provides the Warriors with a better defender to relieve Bogut, and does so without at all disrupting the core. It gives Garnett a better shot at a ring, and for the Nets, a first rounder is the charge for giving the Warriors those things. Lee will produce some in the interim without figuring into their 2016 plans (which Garnett does not figure into in any event).
-Deal 3: Lopez for Lee and Speights: the Warriors gamble on Lopez as Bogut relief. Given Lopez is way more valuable than Lee, they capitalize on Speights’ awesome start to the season, shedding him for Brook.