With the Nets marching towards a significant offseason, it is now the time to start thinking about who across the league they can get their hands on over the summer. While some Nets will surely be back and the Nets sincerely want to develop their players, when you are 12-54, the need for talent upgrades is paramount. The Nets will look to add pieces.
That brings me to the Knicks, and who from across the river may be available. In Knick like fashion, they sit in a peculiar position. On one hand, there are murmurs that they finally seem to acknowledge a need to rebuild, and will have Porzingis, next year’s top 10 pick, and Hernangomez in house to start that process. That may lead to a full blown commitment to youth, and a Melo trade. On the other hand, the logistics of dealing Melo given his no trade clause and large salary are difficult, and if Melo sticks around, the Knicks may hedge between rebuilding and winning now. Lastly, the Knicks appear to be back to evaluating players based on the triangle, which should mean even more personnel change.
So, can the Nets benefit from that change? For now, it is hard to say, because the direction the Knicks choose this summer is anyone’s guess. A sincere rebuild around Porzingis, another win now like summer, or a hedge between the two (the most likely scenario) are all in the cards.
As for the Nets, for starters, do not expect to see Melo, Rose, Noah, or Lee in a Brooklyn uniform. Melo will only waive his no trade clause to go to a winner, and the Knicks would want more assets than the Nets can send them. Rose is a shoot first point guard who, since his knee injuries, has been exposed for his inability to run an offense, and for, frankly, being a ball hog. There is no place for that in Brooklyn’s motion offense. He also went AWOL on his team (which was 17-20 at the time and has gone 10-21 since), which makes him an awful culture fit on top of being a bad basketball fit. Noah’s contract is too large an albatross to take on. And Lee, as a solid shooting, bigger guard, is a nice fit on the Knicks going forward, almost regardless of the direction they assume.
In addition, Porzingis and Hernangomez are going nowhere.
However, depending on what the Knicks do this summer, there are other options for Brooklyn. Lance Thomas has been a dud for the Knicks, and, if they try to score big on the free agent market, they may see if someone will take on draft compensation in exchange for parking his contract there. Thomas essentially has only two years on his deal, as his 2019-2020 salary is not guaranteed, so there are worse pills to swallow, although the pick would have to come in 2018 or beyond. The Knicks under Phil Jackson have been judicious as to not dealing their first rounders, so perhaps they would not bite on dumping Thomas in this fashion. However, there may be something here.
Kyle O’Quinn may be seen in similar fashion, but unlike Thomas, he has produced this year, and the Knicks are unlikely to part with him unless they receive assets in exchange. That makes little sense for the Nets to engage in. Similarly, Mindaugas Kuzminskas would require the Nets to trade assets, and he has had an underwhelming rookie year. I would pass. Lastly as to the “no goes,” Sasha Vujacic makes next to no sense for any role other than as a veteran leader.
Justin Holiday is a piece the Nets can look at. He is already 27, so there may not be any untapped potential there, but he is a high energy wing who competes hard on both ends, brings a lot of energy to the table, and shoots the 3 well. He may be worth a look this summer.
From there, the Knicks have Ron Baker, Maurice N’Dour, and Chasson Randle at the bottom of their roster. Baker and N’Dour may have some upside, but do not appear to be upgrades over pieces like Harris and Acy already in house. Randle is a piece the Nets passed over multiple times this year as he was available, and is not an upgrade over Whitehead or Dinwiddie.
As for the draft, the Knicks do have two picks in the second round: Chicago’s and Houston’s. There is no harm in the Nets seeing what the price point of those picks is, and trying to buy into additional second round stock.