Nets team building lessons: Cleveland Cavaliers Edition

It’s easy to dismiss the Cavs as a creature of good luck. LeBron came home. The move was against all odds. While much has happened since, some of the juicier moves, like the Kevin Love trade, has been a natural offshoot of that. However, much of what Cleveland has done to become a contender are things the Nets can take pages from.
No matter how slim, you miss all the shots you don’t take, so take your chance.

There exists a school of thought that the Nets should not try to get Kevin Durant or some other big fish in 2016 because there seems to be no reason to believe those players will come to Brooklyn.

It’s easy to forget that any talk of LeBron going back to Cleveland before Pat Riley’s now infamous post 2014 Finals presser was met with ridicule. The Cavs were laughed at for even trying. How’d that work out?

You truly never know what will happen in the NBA. Who had LeBron becoming a Cav again? CP3 becoming a Clipper, or better yet becoming a Clipper after a Laker deal was vetoed? Or the Lakers missing on all big free agents since 2011? Or the Warriors becoming a juggernaut.

The Cavs held out hope. They took a shot. The Nets absolutely need plan B C and D given the likelihood of Plan A working in 2016 is slim. But they still need to take their shot.

Be creative: don’t paint yourself into a corner

The Cavs are stereotyped as a poor organization graced by their hometown hero, but that is not fair. Teams are always looking to dump players, or are desperate for players and willing to fork over picks. Wait the market out and take advantage. In dire straights and needing to make a playoff push the Thunder were willing to gamble on Dion Waiters, and Cleveland got a first round pick for a player not in their plans.

When teams are opening cap space they are willing to unload dead salary for anything. And when a team knows a restricted free agent is not in their plans, he suddenly has no value. Enter the Knicks. Cleveland added 2 key contributors in Smith and Shumpert at little cost, then used the Waiters pick to get Mozgov.

Through all that — none of which was created by LeBron, Cleveland constructed a deep and versatile roster capable of playing many ways in the playoffs.

Similarly Nets do not need to use ALL of their cap space in 2016. Only sign players who make sense. If there is space left over, so what. Use it to rent players in deals. As payment for renting those players, force teams to fork over picks.

The Nets will not be signing the King in 2016. But they can learn from the creativity of the King’s men.

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