Four days ago, I indicated in this space that the Nets, to date, had not advanced their rebuild forward this summer? Now? They sure have.
By now, you all know the terms of the Lin and Faried trades, for the Nets:
-in: 2019 first rounder (top 12 protected), 2020 second rounder, Faried, Arthur
-out: Lin, Whitehead, 2023 second round swap, 2025 second rounder
When you cut to the chase, the Nets essentially dealt Lin, $7,867,540 in cap space, and a 2023 second round pick swap, for a 2019 first rounder from a team that picked 14 the last two years.
This is an EXCELLENT DEAL for the Nets. Sean Marks delivered. That cannot be spun otherwise. Here are some reactions.
I. Getting a First is A Big Time Strike
First round picks, as I frequently bemoan, are nearly impossible to come by. Look at the Wilson Chandler deal for seconds, the trade deadline, and the lack of ability to move into or up the First Round of the 2018 draft: teams are loathe to deal first rounders, and only do so when they are desperate (see: Cleveland dealing a first to surround LeBron at the deadline).
With a Nuggets ownership group evidently hellbent on tax avoidance, the Nets found a desperate scenario. They had to take advantage, because these opportunities are rare.
Put most simply, the Nets traded a veteran not in their plans, and “role player” size cap space, for a likely mid first round pick. In a rebuild, that is a great get.
II. Risks? Sure. But all trades have them and this deal is too good to pass up.
Show me a risk free trade and you will not actually show me a trade. For all we know, every piece in this trade becomes inconsequential and the Nets’ 2025 second rounder becomes the next Draymond Green. Nobody has a crystal ball.
That said, this is a good trade. The risk reward proposition here is extremely favorable for Brooklyn. I see three risks, all reasily worth taking.
First, start with Lin. The apparent risk would be that he plays well this year, and becomes worth an asset at the deadline. However, it must be noted – the Nets could not make their deal with Denver, without dealing Lin – they could only, in that instance, take in one of Faried or Arthur. The Nuggets needed to deal BOTH to evade the tax.
Refer to the Chandler deal – the Nuggets only dealt second rounders. If the Nets did not take on both bad contracts, the Nuggets only would have sent them second rounders – or at best, the first but with much heavier protections.
Accordingly, the only way dealing Lin bites them, is if, at the deadline, he becomes worth MORE than the top 12 protected first rounder acquired here. That is unlikely, even if a best case Lin scenario. And the only way the Nets could even try to realize that scenario, would have been to deprive DLO and Dinwiddie of minutes and responsibility – an outcome that in and of itself has negative consequences.
On balance, the Nets made the correct decision taking this Lin related risk.
As for the second risk, it is that the Nets did not optimally eat cap space here. I do not buy that. The best player to sign within the space the Nets had, pre trade, was Julius Randle. In theory, losing out on Randle (who probably would have chosen the Pelicans even if the Nets pursued him), is the biggest risk they took. This risk, however, is justified. As I have said since day one, first rounders are more valuable in a rebuild than non stars about to get paid. The Nets are better off with this cost controlled mid first, than being faced with paying Randle big money or losing him in 2019. And once again – that would have been the best case scenario – the likely scenario would have been paying a role player.
The third group of risks – that one of Whitehead or the outgoing seconds becomes a critical piece (not likely) or that Faried or Arthur become malcontents (not likely but they can be cut if they do) can fairy be characterized as too inconsequential to nix a deal this sweet.
III. The Nets Cap As Of Now and What Comes Next
With the trade made, the Nets, in short, have between $2.6-$2.7 million in cap room, with thirteen players under contract, and Pinson’s D league rights (this structure persists until Harris and Davis are inked):
-PG: DLO: $7,019,698, Dinwiddie: $1,656,092
-SG: Crabbe: $18,500,000, LeVert: $1,702,800
-SF: Carroll: $15,400,000, Harris: $1,512,601 hold, Musa: $1,632,240 estimate
-PF: RHJ: $2,470,357, Arthur: $7,964,912, Kurucs: $1,620,480 estimate
-C: Allen: $2,034,120, Davis: $0 hold (room exception), Faried ($13,764,045)
-D League rights: Pinson (Exhibit 10 no charge)
-Dead $: Dwight: $18,919,725, The Stretch-man: $5,474,787
-Holds: Doyle: $1,349,383, Acy: $1,512,601 (Nets likely renounced one to make this deal work)
-Off the cap: Webb III, Cunningham, and Okafor (renounced), Foye (likely renounced for this to occur), Stauskas and Mozgov (on new teams)
With scant cap space left, and only two guaranteed roster spots to fill, the Nets’ offseason, barring another significant trade, mostly is complete aside from finishing touches.
Personally, I would move one or two of the about to be free agent kids; the Nets, I still believe, should prioritize cost controlled youth over about to be paid non star youth.
However, the Nets may see this, instead, as a year to evaluate all of their young players, then decide, at midseason or in the summer, who stays and goes. In the worst case, they let everyone walk and have two lottery picks and gobs of cap space to add more picks in 12 months — not an awful scenario.
Also possible, while asset maximization is huge, is that the Nets may feel their pieces would only fetch a small return, but in trading them they risk: (1) trading a player that could be a future core piece; and (2): that the team wins less games, and is thus less attractive to stars. If the Nets’ entire body of work, caused by all the young pieces, yields a star, and a young piece is lost for nothing, the net gain of the star outweighs the asset take so significantly, as to largely render it null — nobody is bagging on the Lakers for losing Randle for nothing. I am not a huge fan of assuming these risks, but I understand them — especially with two firsts in the coffer as mitigation.
IV. Other quick hitter reactions
-The protections on the picks, particularly the first after 2019, have not been revealed. Those are of interest,
-This trade is obviously about the incoming picks. But it should be noted that Arthur and Faried have some ability, and do fill short term needs up front. I do not expect a Carroll revelation. But I also do not expect a Mozgov situation. Arthur is a good locker room guy. Faried has the potential to be a quality spark plug.
-Obviously, it would be amazing if the Nets strike gold on next summer’s free agent market. But if they finish in the lottery, and stars do not want to join a rebuild (frankly, a likely scenario), the hope is that trades like this are the model for how the Nets operate next summer, as opposed to signing B and C class free agents just to show fans, during the spending spree, that they too were involved. I certainly trust Marks in this regard, and I hope the patience of Prokhorov and Joe Tsai continues.
-As for Tsai, is extremely encouraging that the Nets, in what is still likely to be a losing year, prioritized their rebuild over the marketing and ticket sales impact Lin undoubtedly has. After discussion that Lin was Tsai’s favorite player, #hyperconcern the Nets would want him around as a byproduct was justifiable. Through this trade, and Tsai’s classiness, as seen on his Twitter account, the Nets axed that concern, emphatically. Good on them.
-The Hawks deserve some derision here. There is no reason why they could not have been the team getting Denver’s first. Instead, they eat Lin’s deal for a distant second, and a second round pick swap. For an organization that has penny pinched before, and is clearly embarking on a rebuild, the deal reeks of #hyperconcern, on their end, that ticket sales were prioritized here over doing what is best for the organization.
-As for the Nuggets, I am tired of teams being praised for making moves where they dump assets just to save ownership $, that have 0 other benefit. Tim Connelly has done extremely well this summer, adding two high upside talents in Michael Porter and Isaiah Thomas despite asset and flexibility limitations. But ownership (this is on them not him) essentially ordered that FOUR picks (one first and three seconds) be sacrificed, just to shed three expiring deals (Chandler, Arthur, Faried). The players expire next summer (so there is no future benefit) and the moves did not open cap space to add different pieces this summer (so there is no present benefit). This is nothing but an owner throwing away picks to save money. That is not worth praising.