With the new year here, it’s officially the year of the Nets having cap space to spend on importing talent, for the first time since 2011. On this site, we have looked around the league at free agents, and who the Nets may be able to pry. Today, we take a look at two teams’ free agents: the Bulls and Pacers. We also look at trade options between the Nets and
Pau Gasol: Gasol is a hall of famer, and is still a fantastic big in Chicago. He has a $7.8 million player option, and there is no way he should exercise that. He likes Chicago and may exercise it, or resign long term. I expect Gasol to stay in Chicago. If he should leave, Pau has been with mostly great or very good teams since 2008, and I do not expect him to migrate to Brooklyn to join a team hopefully on the rise, but clearly not at title caliber level at the moment.
Joakim Noah: Noah was the heart and soul of the Tom Thibodeau Bulls, but these are not those Bulls. Noah is coming off the bench in Chicago, playing under 25 minutes a night. He is not the same athlete he was when he ripped hearts out of Net fans’ sockets during the 2013 playoffs. He still has value, and can help a contender. Chicago has flexibility to keep him, and may indeed do so, but he may look elsewhere now that the Chicago he knew has changed. Any team can use Noah, but Lopez is entrenched at center and the Nets should focus their resources elsewhere.
Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi has evolved into a nice rim protector who can finish near the basket in Indiana. He is poised to get a decent payday this summer, however, and not likely to wish to revert back to a reserve role. The Nets will likely look to spend at another position, but Mahinmi is a nice big man for a playoff team right now.
Aaron Brooks: Brooks is a decent reserve guard, and has been productive as a Bull. He is an unrestricted free agent. I expect the Bulls to look to keep him, but nothing is every certain, particularly with reserves. And if the Bulls look to trade Derrick Rose, there could be many changes in store in Chicago, which often leads to the dispersing of role pieces like Brooks. The Nets have reserve caliber guards in house, but if Shane Larkin leaves with a payday, he could be a cheap replacement.
Jordan Hill: Hill is essentially a third or fourth big on a good team, depending on whether the team plays big or small. He could be a useful add for the Nets, particularly if he has reasonable salary demands, given the way he has bounced around the league.
Solomon Hill: Hill is a nice defensive wing, and it was surprising when the Pacers did not pickup his small team option for next year. Still, perhaps that should be a sign. Hill in his third season still has little in the way of an offensive game, and is struggling to see playing time. On the other hand, however, the Pacers’ commitment to their new small ball attack was served by adding numerous quality wings which made Hill a numbers crunch victim. The Nets are weak at the wing, and Hill has little power to command a big salary number — there could be a match here.
Kirk Hinrich: Hinrich is a catchy name because he has been around for a long time. He is declining, however, and is not who he was when the Nets lost to the Bulls in the 2013 playoffs. Hinrich can fill a role as a pest of a defender, and hard nosed player, the ilk of which you tend to see on playoff teams. Hinrich is worth a look on a short, tiny contract if the Bulls move on.
E’Twaun Moore: Moore is a fringe rotation guard. He has showed some ability to score, but has never consistently earned NBA minutes. The Nets likely will show little interest in his services next summer.
Glenn Robinson, III: Robinson barely plays in Indiana, but there may be something here. He is averaging 14.4 points on 52% shooting per 36 minutes, and the Nets do need better guard play. He may be worth a look on a minimum deal as an end of the bench young player. The Pacers may exercise their team option of a touch over $1 million, but with players this far down the roster, that is never a guarantee.
Chase Budinger: Budinger is a wing with a reputation for doing little, other than shooting the 3 (which he is not even doing well this year), and, frankly, getting hurt. There is little to see here, in essentially a lesser version of Wayne Ellington.
Cameron Bairstow: The Bulls have an $980,000 team option on Bairstow’s contract. He never gets minutes, and will be fighting to stay in the NBA next summer. I do not expect the Nets to be looking to bring him aboard.
Cristiano Felicio: Felicio is even closer to the fringe than Bairstow, and the Bulls have a $875,000 team option here. There is likely nothing to see here from a free agency standpoint.
Shayne Whittington: Whittington is the last guy on the Pacers’ roster, and he may not be in the league next year, regardles off the Pacers $980,000 team option. The Nets likely pass.
Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Shane Larkin for Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, and Cameron Bairstow. — If the Nets are to dump Joe Johnson, this may be their only shot. The Bulls, it appears, wish to move on from Rose. This deal would provide them with the opportunity to do that. The Bulls should not make a deal like this. If they deal Rose, they should get more back than fringe youth in a package like this. And Rose expires in 2017 — why make a downgrade this significant just to dump him. Still, if the Bulls look to dump Rose, there may not be many suitors, given his contract and the glut of talent across the NBA at point guard. That could open a door for Brooklyn. The Nets have so much cap space next summer that they could do a deal like this, and still have plenty of money to spend on free agents. Placing a call wouldn’t hurt.
Jarrett Jack for Solomon Hill and Lavoy Allen — Hill is out of the Pacers’ rotation, and given they declined his small 2016-17 team option, out of their plans. Still, he was picked in the 2013 first round. The Nets would be providing the small ball Pacers with another at least competent small in Jack, while giving themselves a look at Hill. Allen is not in the Pacers’ plans either but makes $4 million in 2016-17, so Indiana would also open some future flexibility. Perhaps the Nets could leverage a future second or even a first in this deal, although a first is perhaps reaching.