You smell that?
It smells GOOD.
That my friends, is the smell of the NBA offseason, finally upon us.
How will the Nets use their cap space? Can they move up in the draft? Can they add a pick? Will they keep their 2019 powder dry?
With questions abound, this article begins a series. I will look at every team in the NBA, and consider the Nets’ options.
One common thread will exist in these posts: the Nets likely are not a compatible trade partner with teams in rebuild mode, since the Nets are not in asset dealing mode.
For starters? The Atlantic Division. Who can the Nets poach locally?
The Raptors are a tough team to figure regarding offseason plans. On one hand, they went 59-23 and appear dissatisfied with being swept by Cleveland. That tends to show they will look to win now. On the other; Masai Ujiri wanted to rebuild in 2013 and did not due to the team’s fluky emergence. With fan disappointment about losing and a clear limited ceiling perhaps he feels this is his window to rebuild.
If the Raptors continue competing, as I expect, their inability to deal a first rounder until 2020 (due to the Nets owning their 2018 first); their toxic relationship with DeMarre Carroll similarly complicates matters.
Lucas Nogueira is a free agent the Nets can consider. He has never put his talent together and there are questions abound about his NBA future, but he alters shots with his length and has the raw skill to be a good interior defender, if channeled.
Jakob Poeltl, under contract, is another, as a solid defending and rebounding big. He is worse than RHJ right now, but cost controlled through 2020. Dealing RHJ for Poeltl and another asset – perhaps that Toronto 2020 first rounder, although that is a reach – would give the Nets more cap room in 2019, replace RHJ with two assets before his extension, and, for Toronto, provide another wing defender to throw at LeBron, or at Boston’s morass of wings.
Unlike the Raptors, the Celtics’ focus is clear – make the NBA Finals.
But despite the Nets potentially having veterans, young and old, who could help Boston, Danny Ainge is a notorious big game hunter. He is unlikely to cash assets out on small games in a deal with Brooklyn.
That makes something like, say, RHJ for a first and either Daniel Theis or Guerschon Yabusele, unlikely.
Perhaps Aron Baynes is a candidate to backup Jarrett Allen, if he wants to avoid a multi year deal given the cap crunch and build some value.
Marcus Smart? He would help Brooklyn build a winning culture but the Nets cannot afford to kill their future cap with role players.
The Sixers will pursue LeBron James and other big names this summer. That makes them an obvious trade target for the Nets, who, starting July 1, have cap space in which to dump contracts – at a price.
Jerryd Bayless sticks out on the Sixers’ 2018-2019 books like a sore thumb, but since he expires in 2019, it would be thievery if the Nets could extract the Sixers’ 26 pick to eat his deal. Simply put, the Nets only have role player money to spend on the market – the 26 pick, in a rebuild, is way more valuable. Particularly when the Nets HAVE done well drafting in the 20’s.
If the Sixers give up on Furkan Korkmaz, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, or Justin Anderson in opening cap space, the Nets should look to pounce. Similarly, in the unlikely event the Sixers decline Richaun Holmes’ team option to maximize their cap space, the Nets should show strong interest.
The Nets should not worry that if they give Philly cap space, they “helped them” get LeBron, or Paul George, or (insert star here). If the Nets don’t do it, someone else will – and then Philly still has their stars but the Nets reap no benefit.
Lastly, if the Nets do keep their cap space for the free agent market, perhaps guys like Marco Belinelli or Ersan Ilyasova are willing to at least start the season with a mediocre team – both, particularly Belinelli, would spur the development of D’Angelo Russell by giving him floor spacers to work with offensively.
New York Knicks:
Unless the Knicks strike gold on the free agent market, their plan appears to be to continue developing their kids, and keep the powder dry for 2019.
Going radical, would the Knicks, sick of Joakim Noah, swap him in exchange for Timofey Mozgov, and dump an asset to do it? The Knicks don’t have a second rounder for several years, so there is likely no mileage here.
Maybe the Knicks think they can sign a big name this summer and the Nets can help out by taking on Kyle O’Quinn, Ron Baker, or Troy Williams in exchange for future second rounders.
Beyond options like that, there is not much doing on this front.