As you know, 2016 free agency is absolutely enormous for the Nets. They do not have to create a contender overnight. But, they must get rotation players, and step from bad to decent, as a tool to later step from decent to good.
This series will tour the league, scouring for free agents, and has already considered the Atlantic Division. We now start the central division, with the Cavaliers. With so many pricey names and contracts in the fold, Cleveland is interesting, as they may simply decide to let some of their free agents walk, which opens the door to teams like Brooklyn to grab them.
Cavaliers’ Free Agents:
LeBron James: Let’s make this quick. LeBron will not leave the Cavaliers a second time. He is listed here because this series is listing all free agents of all teams. He has a player option only so he can opt out and resign at the new max.
Timofey Mozgov: Mozgov is a nice piece at the center position. He showed the value of size in today’s small NBA, punishing the Warriors frontline and legitimately scaring Golden State in the finals for 3.5 games. He is struggling this year, and perhaps Cleveland lets him walk, given he is looking at a $15 million a year deal. He is a good player, but makes little sense for Brooklyn with Lopez in the fold.
JR Smith: The Cavaliers have a $5.4 million team option to retain Smith. If there is one thing they lack, it is quality wing play other than LeBron. With no money to spend this summer, exercising his option makes worlds of sense and should be expected. Were Cleveland to let him walk, he is an intriguing piece. However, he is a risk on a long term deal, and is not a starter in the NBA. I would take a look at him in the 2 year, $16 million range, but nothing excessive beyond that.
Jared Cunningham: A first round pick in 2012, Cunningham has started three games for the Cavaliers this season and has made his way into the rotation. He is shooting 38.5% from 3, and competes on a nightly basis. Again, Cleveland has a decision to make here, and Cunningham is an unrestricted free agent.
Mo Williams: Williams is a nice reserve guard. He can shoot the 3, and fits well with many teams as a role playing spot up shooter, who can handle the basketball serviceably. He has a $2.2 million player option which he may decline, but he also loves being LeBron’s teammate. If he hits the market, he is worth a look, as the Nets sorely lack competent guard play.
Matthew Dellavedova: Delly is a restricted free agent, which gives Cleveland the right to keep him, but also presents them with a tough decision given all the contracts on the books. Delly is nothing more than a reserve, but plays with pride and passion, can shoot in spurts, and is never afraid to get after it. He is a useful player, and has the type of attitude most playoff teams have. The Nets can look into his services, but I would not use too much space on him.
Anderson Varejao: The Cavaliers have a $10.4 million team option on Varejao’s deal. Given the extent of his decline, it makes little sense to exercise, but he is LeBron’s good friend, and given the Cavaliers have no cap space regardless, they cannot pay for a replacement and may exercise the option. Regardless, he is not the game changing rebounder and hustle player he was in his prime, and the Nets should look elsewhere.
Richard Jefferson: Jefferson has done a great job reinventing himself as a 3 point shooter to enable his career to continue. That is a useful skill anywhere, but at this stage in his career, Jefferson is going to sign where he believes he can win the most games, and that likely is not Brooklyn.
James Jones: Jones is a shooter who does little else. He has value for that shooting, but at this point, he really is nothing more than LeBron’s guy in Cleveland, who seems prepared to stick it out with him there.
Joe Harris: The Cavaliers have a $980,000 team option on Harris. They may not exercise it as he is yet to show he is NBA ready. The Nets should not seek out his services.
Trades With Cleveland: Jack and a trade exception (from Cleveland) to the Clippers; Sasha Kaun and second round picks to the Nets; Lance Stephenson to the Cavaliers
No trade makes sense with Cleveland. Their players are almost all properly paid, they have no interest in worsening the roster, and they have little that would intrigue the Nets from who they would deal. The Nets, here, would be dumping Jack for a young big Cleveland lacks the room to give a chance, and some second rounders, to increase their asset pool for a player that should not be part of their future. Los Angeles dumps Stephenson, who they are desperate to get rid of, and gets to look at a rotation player to boost their chances out west. Cleveland would be getting Stephenson for nothing and gambling on LeBron’s ability to bring Lance in line. A big gamble, as even CP3 and Paul Pierce seem unable to harness his attitude.