Here at Brooklynsbeat.com, we are starting a new series on the Nets, and their free agency options.
Regardless of what you may think of the Nets roster, their coach, and management and ownership, the bottom line is that 2015-2016 will be a lost season in Brooklyn. All that matters this season is identifying who on the roster can or should be part of the future, and using those pieces as a selling point to attract the best free agents they can. No picks under control until 2019? You’re not competing via the draft. No trade assets beyond Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Bojan Bogdanovic at best? You’re not trading for elite and good starters.
The Nets future is bleak. Nobody can doubt this. But the best way to evade the bleakness with the current asset picture is to use the coming cap space in smart ways. Aside from Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, and Deron Williams’ stretched contract, the Nets’ future books are essentially bare.
Cap space can be used in multiple ways. Of course, it can be used to grab free agents. However, the biggest misconception of cap space is that it must be spent. The Nets can also use cap space to leverage teams into unbalanced trades. Starting on July 1, by renting their cap space to teams, and taking on bad contracts, the Nets can inform teams “want to dump that deal? There’s a charge … of a pick.” That won’t yield lottery picks, but can yield picks of decent value, a la the Sixers grabbing a late first rounder for taking JaVale McGee off the Nuggets’ hands.
Through this series, I will review all 29 teams in the league. What free agents are fits for Brooklyn? What is the chance they may defect from their teams? Does the team present realistic options for dumping a bad contract in exchange for picks?
This Series Will Adopt the Following Rules:
-All free agents of all teams will be listed. It does not matter if the free agent appears unattainable, is a 15th man, is restricted, or is only free if a team declines a team option they would be incompetent to decline. Everyone will be listed–although those issues may be clarified on a case by case basis.
-The series will identify the player’s free agency status (whether he is restricted, etc).
-Free agents will be listed in order by talent or perceived value, not in order of likelihood of becoming Nets
The Nets cap situation in brief
Assuming an $89 million cap, the Nets have $45,379,214 in guaranteed financial commitments that go to Lopez, Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris McCullough, Jarrett Jack (the Nets can waive him foe $500,000 guaranteed, or pick up his $6.3 million team option), and Deron Williams (his stretch exception payment is on thr books).
That number can fluctuate some. The Nets have about $5,670,12 in player options for next year, spread approximately evenly to Shane Larkin, Thomas Robinson, Wayne Ellington, and Andrea Bargnani. All four players can either choose to return on options between $1.05 and $1.56 million, or hit the market. From there, everyone else is a free agent: Joe Johnson, Sergey Karasev, and Donald Sloan are unrestricted, while Markel Brown and Willie Reed are restricted if the Nets choose to tender qualifying offers to them.
All things told, the Nets will have significant cap room however they slice it.
And now, we look at the Boston Celtics: who can the Nets acquire in free agency, and is the potential to leverage a bad contract into picks available?
The Boston Celtics
Amir Johnson: Amir does so many things well. He is a solid defender, contributes offensively, and plays with an edge. He is free, but the Celtics have a $12 million team option. That is a very affordable deal, and while the Celtics will will try to make a splash free agency, there is a strong chance that they keep him on that option to retain their talent, especially if they do not make a summer splash. However, the Nets’ needs, while obvious and gaping at the guard and small forward positions, are not present up front, where Lopez and Young are entrenched on the frontline. With needs elsewhere, splurging for lesser up front talent is not the answer.
Tyler Zeller: Zeller is a talented young big, but also may be superfluous with Young and Lopez on the roster. Do the Nets want to pay a young big 8 figures in the hope he develops, with so many other needs. Alas, Zeller is also a restricted free agent; the Celtics can match any offer to Zeller, and there is a strong chance that they will.
Jared Sullenger: the Celtics have several young bigs and Sullinger is no exception. I would stay away from Sullinger. He is not a shooter, and is still not a proven commodity. And as a restricted free agent, Boston can match any offer.
David Lee: Yet another boston big. Lee can score the basketball, but is a lousy defender, and if there is something the Nets do not need, it is a scoring big who is not an elite or even good defender.
Evan Turner: Turner is an unrestricted free agent. The Celtics have several other more important free agency priorities, both on the roster and on the open market, than Turner. He may be had. However, Turner is a chronic ball holder, and that has led to his struggling to find stable NBA footing. The Nets have been bedeviled by ball stopping in recent years, and do not need another ball stopper in the fold. I would pass on Turner.
Jonas Jerebko: Jerebko is not a bad wing piece for the Nets to take a look at. He’s shot 36% from 3 or above the past 4 seasons, and he is a solid defender. The Celtics have a $5 million team option, but Jerebko’s minutes are low, and he is a player that may hit the open market.
Trades With the Celtics? Don’t Count on it
The Celtics are not a sensible spot for the Nets to look to acquire a bad long term deal, in exchange for the trading team renting draft picks to Brooklyn. The sole guaranteed deals in 2017-2018 are Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder — three affordable young players who are big keys to Boston’s future. The Celtics have no reason to deal a pick to Brooklyn in exchange for dumping a bad deal on the Nets.