Brooklyn Nets getting production from (cheap) bench

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

The Nets are the first team in NBA history to start five players making $10 million (rounding out Gerald Wallace's $9.7 million.) That would seem to have limited what the Nets could do with their bench. But as the Nets winning streak has proven, if you're smart, you can get a lot out of minimum deals.

By now, it should be obvious. The strategy for big market teams, like the Brooklyn Nets, is to acquire two or three superstars at max salaries and then after adding a few good-sized deals, fill out the bench with vets minimum and rookie deals.

That's what the Nets have done and it looks like Billy King and Bobby Marks' did as well as the end of the bench as they did with the starters. In fact, in terms of value, they may have done better with the second stringers.

Aside from the five starters and Mirza Teletovic, still a work in progress at the mini-MLE, the rest of the Nets roster, nine players, are making a little more than $8 million ... combined ... or less than $1 million each. Of that group, only one is making more than the league minimum, Reggie Evans, and he's making only $1.62 million. The rest are on minimum or rookie deals. And of the nine, only one --again Evans-- has more than a two-year guarantee. He has a three-year, $5 million contract. In fact, two of the minimum deals, those given Andray Blatche and Josh Childress, don't get guaranteed for this season until the first week of January.

Evans, as noted elsewhere, is leading the NBA in rebounds per 36 minutes and Blatche has led the Nets in scoring in two of the last five games, 22 vs the Kings and 15 vs. the Magic, both on the road and off the bench. MarShon Brooks, who's had his problems with a balky foot injury, showed he can still score when needed in Sacramento. His deal is $1.16 million, the rookie salary for a player taken deep in the first round. Jerry Stackhouse has shown he still has it at 38 and C.J. Watson is averaging 8.5 points and filling in admirably for Deron Williams.

The signings have been varied. Evans was a sign-and-trade for a trade exception acquired in the Gerald Wallace deal and a swap of second rounders in the 2016 draft. Blatche and Childress were signed when no teams bid on them after they were amnestied. Watson has a two-year minimum deal, with the second year a player option. Rookies Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia fill out the bench with two-year guaranteed rookie minimum contracts. The others -- Stackhouse and Keith Bogans -- were straight vets minimum deals. Brooks is the only player on the roster who wasn't traded, signed or re-signed this off-season.

Can the Nets match up against the Lakers? It won't be easy. But a look at the Nets bench production vs.the Lakers bench production should give fans some confidence in the Nets long-term plan.

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