The 2017 NBA trade deadline is coming before we know it. 37 days stand between us, and the “other side.”
With the Nets losing so regularly, it can be tempting to hope the Nets make wholesale changes, just to do something to spruce things up. However, change is not always good — and change for the worse is more harmful than good. The Nets need assets, and need to dig out of the hole the previous regime but them in — not dig further in. Any move that digs them further in is not a move to do. In addition, as every player on the roster only can be traded once, it is critical to <strong>maximize </strong>the return, to speed the dig out. Not getting enough in a trade prolongs the rebuild in that regard.
As for the idea things cannot get worse? They always can. You can always lose more than you currently do, lose by more points, or have an even lesser asset pool than you currently have.
So what the Nets face, essentially, is an extremely fluid situation. On one hand, there is no need to make ANY roster changes, if the return makes the Nets’ situation worse. There is no need to deal Brook Lopez for a bad return and miss the chance to get a better return later. There is no need to waive Quincy Acy for that matter, if the roster spot cannot be filled by a better player, or made useful in a deal of a larger piece.
At the same time, no Nets player is untouchable. The Nets hole is DEEP, and will take years to escape. No Net, at this moment, is a “foundational” player — a player you build a roster around. Accordingly, no Net is untradeable. The flip side of “do not deal any Net if the deal is bad,” is “deal ANY Net if the deal is good.” Indeed, ANY Net, from Lopez and LeVert to Dinwiddie and Acy, is touchable . . . but only at the appropriate price.
This brings me to my last point: trade value is relative and contextual. Given the Nets’ situation, they DESPERATELY need draft picks and young talent. Accordingly, the bit of young talent they actually have is EXTREMELY important for them to keep. As a result, a player like LeVert, or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, may have a particular trade value in a vacuum, but the Nets should charge MORE than that if dangling them in deals, because of their relative importance to the Nets.
With that, what price should the Nets demand for their players? Here is the list, organized by minutes per game.
-Why trade him: He will be 28 in April and is at his peak. He likely will begin to dip 2-3 years from now — right when the Nets are perhaps starting to get ready to compete. So he is optimized by getting youthful value for then, right now, not by keeping him. If the Nets are to restock the cupboard he is the ONLY piece that can do it.
-Why keep him: The return. Lopez is the Nets’ top asset: once they deal him, they will be hard pressed to add more to their asset pool. It is CRITICAL to get good value for him. If the offers are bad, there is no reason to deal Lopez at a loss. Waiting to the draft, when teams know their pick, how they value each prospect and what others may do may yield a better return.
-The price: A lottery pick, or a mid round first and an established young player. In recent pick deals, George Hill and Jeff Teague were swapped for the 12th pick, Thaddeus Young the 20th pick. A Lopez market should be set accordingly.
-Why trade him: He is a useful veteran multiple contenders can use. He is also 29, and will be an age 30 vet next season relying on athleticism which can get dicey.
-Why keep him: There is value to having vets around a rebuild. If you have a full roster of kids, then you have no role model for those kids to grow from. A vet who has seen a lot, knows what it takes to win, and teaches good habits has value to helping young players develop, in all sports. Booker is a great example for this group. He is also on a fair market value deal.
-The price: An unprotected second rounder in the 30-40 range, or a decent young player a contender is giving up on. Booker is not worth much on the market but can fetch Brooklyn a small time asset.
-Why trade him: He is at his best with the ball in his hands, which calls into question whether he can fit as a complementary part on a good team. He is also 27, so it is tough to believe that he will get any better than he is now. A future asset may be more helpful.
-Why keep him: He will make the league minimum next year and will be a productive pro while doing it. When hot, he can be lethal from the perimeter, and he is talented enough to swing a playoff game in a team’s favor one day if he catches fire. He is also shooting 41.8% this year on wide open threes and can get more of those on a better team.
-The price: An unprotected second rounder in the 30-40 range, or a decent young player a contender is giving up on. This may not seem like a lot, but you are not getting a first rounder for Kilpatrick. You just are not. At the same time, this also may show why keeping him may be the better plan: the likelihood of a 30-40 range pick outperforming Kilpatrick is not high.
-Why trade him: He is slated to be a free agent and make $10-$15 million per season, as a wing who: 1: cannot defend, in a league where it is critical to have multiple wings who can; 2: is not a good scorer off the bounce and figures to find a home on a good team as a role playing spotup shooter.
-Why keep him: Bogdanovic is shooting 41.2% on wide open threes, 37% from 3 for the season, and has shown in his 3 seasons that he can fit on a good team as a role playing seventh man.
-The price: A late first round pick. This is an example of where the market has to dictate your plan. Bojan being traded for nothing, or leaving as a free agent, provides no value. Getting an asset is great, but if not, the Nets should keep him and look to flip him later.
-Why trade him: He is 27 years old, and reliant on his quick first two steps. If those go, he goes, and the Nets may not be good while he has those quick steps.
-Why keep him: For starters, given all the missed time, the Nets would NEVER get fair value. More critically, the Nets are clearly better when Lin plays, and hard pressed to find talent like him. He leads the team in dribble drives by a country mile, and the Nets’ probe the paint with guards offensive attack is infinitely better when he plays. He is that much better than Whitehead and Dinwiddie, which boosts the attack to that affect, and boosts the team by putting everyone in the place they should be in.
-The price: A lottery pick, or mid first and solid young player. This price is too steep for Lin and it will mean he will not be traded. But given his importance to the Nets attack as a “head of the snake” point guard, he is too important to deal for less. The Nets’ struggles attracting free agents are necessarily a factor in that as well.
-Why trade him: Older draft picks often do not develop, and Harris is already 25 and in year 3, the typical breakout year: he is underwhelming. That Harris is shooting just 36% on wide open threes, when his entire role is as a shooter, is concerning. An asset beats retaining Harris.
-Why keep him: He is a shooter on a team short on shooters and if he takes another developmental step he could become a low end rotation piece.
-The price: An early to mid second rounder, or a throw in in a Lopez or Bogdanovic trade. If Harris brings in an asset, that should suffice for his services. In addition, if the Nets find a good deal for Brook or Bojan and the opposing team wants Harris, he should not hold a deal up.
-Why trade him: Whitehead has not shown that, as a point guard, he actually has point guard skills. He makes poor decisions overall and does not run the offense efficiently.
-Why keep him: Whitehead has been good for a mid second rounder. He has an eclectic skillset, including the ability to block shots, nice passing ability, and potential as a defender. Given his cheap contract, he can fit going forward even in a tiny role. He is not a competent rotation player right now but he can be.
-The price: A late first round pick. Again, context comes into play here. The Nets are so youth starved that they cannot deal their youth unless a team overpays them for it.
-Why trade him: If the Nets do not see him as a core part, getting value now beats waiting for his extension year. RHJ may never be a shooter at a position where shooting is critical to future success.
-Why keep him: RHJ is so clearly an incredibly hard working young player, with a bright attitude. When he struggles, it is often the result of pressing to perform, to show “I worked hard on this and now I am good at it.” His defense has huge upside, and he is developing as a playmaker in the pick and roll. He is a vital future piece.
-The price: A mid first round pick and another solid young player: This is a ransom for RHJ, but goes to the point I have made — the Nets need more guys like him, not less, so they should not deal unless a team overpays.
-Why trade him: Hamilton is 26 going on 27. And despite being billed as a sweet shooting big, he is only shooting 35% on open threes. He is a surprisingly adept shot blocker but not a good defender overall. A contender may see him as an extra stretch shooting big with usefulness: Hamilton can be a sneaky piece to grab an asset for.
-Why keep him: Hamilton should be more or less what he is now for the next few years, and stretch bigs are not easy to come by, as well as useful in Atkinson’s wide open system.
-The price: An early to mid second rounder. If the Nets can get an asset for Hamilton, they should stock the cupboard.
-Why trade him: Dinwiddie is barely a NBA player despite multiple chances. The Nets cannot go forward with him and Whitehead; they need more talent.
-Why keep him: He is developing in their system and if Lin or Whitehead go, he can take some of their minutes.
-The price: A mid second rounder or a throw in in a larger deal. If Dinwiddie brings in a pick, the Nets should jump at the offer. In addition, if the Nets strike a bigger deal, he should not be an impediment.
-Why trade him: Frankly, there is no reason to, unless someone gets crazy with an offer (remember: no player is untouchable, players simply vary in price).
-Why keep him: LeVert is not that good yet, but has significant potential. He sees the floor. He creates for others. He is versatile. He rebounds. He can drive, shoot, pass and defend, which wings today need to do. He is also a high character man. LeVert is the Nets best future piece.
-The price: A lottery pick and a good young player: this is a deal no team would do with the Nets. Given their situation, however, LeVert is SO important that he can only be dealt in an overpay.
Randy Foye and Luis Scola:
-Why trade them: They are not future pieces. Any asset the Nets can get, they should take . . . subject to making sure the roster is not COMPLETELY stripped of veteran leadership.
-Why keep them: Only to ensure the team does not have 0 veterans.
-The price: a late second rounder. Foye and Scola have no value. Any asset acquired is a bonus.
-Why trade him: He may not even make it past today in any event, but he has no real value. Any asset for him is a bargain.
-Why keep him: If no deals surface, and he is better than anyone NOT in the NBA, there is no reason to dump him.
-The price: a late second rounder.
-Why trade him: Injuries aside, we are through 1.5 seasons of McCullough’s career and three coaches have now felt he is not NBA ready. Will he ever be? If not, the time to get value for him is NOW, before he graduates from the rookie scale and teams catch on to his lack of value.
-Why keep him: He may not bring anything back in a deal, and he has shown flashes in the D League.
-The price: Two unprotected second rounders. It is what it is, but McCullough is not bringing more than this back in a deal.