My Nets offseason series continues with a look at the central division – who can the Nets pluck from Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Chicago?
Let’s take a look.
Cleveland Cavs: Whether LeBron stays or goes (no, Brooklyn isn’t getting HIM), the Cavs figure to be active, either to surround him or shed veterans for assets. Kevin Love is also unlikely – the Cavs would likely seek assets or a talent upgrade for him neither of which the Nets can or should provide.
But otherwise, the Nets can become active. If Cleveland needs a parking space for any of its bloated contracts – Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, or to a lesser extent Kyle Korver – in exchange for picks – the Nets should be open for business. The Nets could absorb or nearly absorb any of those pieces.
In addition, Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic have some upside. If the Cavs need to ship them in a Nets deal to make dollars work, the Nets would be wise to explore.
Indiana Pacers: the Pacers are in a fascinating position. With Thad, Bojan, Darren Collison, Al Jefferson, and Lance Stephenson all on options, Indiana could in theory enter the summer with Oladipo and a ton of cap space, if they are so inclined.
Their veterans do not really make sense in Brooklyn. TJ Leaf was a first rounder last season; maybe the Pacers would trade him to add DeMarre Carroll to boost their wing production as they compete in the east. Maybe, instead, Indiana would deal their first rounder to add a piece like Carroll – that is less likely. The Nets should push for Ike Anigbogu in any deal.
Glenn Robinson III is an intriguing free agent to consider. He is a young wing who has not had much chance to shine in Indiana, due to injuries and roster depth. That could change in Brooklyn. The Nets should give him a look since he plays a premium position and has a 3/D profile.
Milwaukee Bucks: First things first: even if obtainable I want no part of Jabari Parker. The Nets need flexibility to obtain stars (whether in the draft or free agency). The worst thing they can do is cap themselves out – with a roster too good to tank but not good enough to win. Parker would help do just that.
The Bucks would only likely deal John Henson if a big upgrade was available but if they did, the Nets could look into a pick rental situation with him. Tony Snell or Matthew Dellavedova who had bad years, are more likely options.
Beyond that, the Bucks have no picks to deal until 2023 due to the Bledsoe deal, which may keep things quiet here.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are chasing the playoffs; the Dwane Case hire made that clear (he has too much cache to sign on a rebuild).
Reggie Bullock would be a fine young piece to consider if the Pistons do not guarantee his deal (for some odd reason).
Other than that, one area the Nets can target here is traded – the Pistons want win now upgrades and the Nets should exploit that. A Carroll for Leuer-Galloway swap, or something similar with Lin, should be on the Nets’ radar. The Pistons are unfortunately unable to trade a first rounder before 2020, but maybe the Nets, in such a deal, can pry the first rounder and Henry Ellenson, to sweeten the pot.
Chicago Bulls: While the Bulls (perhaps recklessly) per Woj want to accelerate their rebuild and dip into the free agent market, their status as a rebuild makes them a poor Nets match for transactions.
David Nwaba was a strong find for Chicago last year. If the Bulls let him walk in pursuit of a reshuffle, the Nets should take a strong look. Noah Vonleh also may warrant a look.
Going more nuclear, if the Bulls heel turn on their rebuild and explore salary dumps to sign free agents, the Nets should be open for business on Omer Asik, Cristiano Felicio, and Justin Holiday if the Bulls really went there.