ESPN.com has put together what they call their "Future Power Rankings," in which they assess what the next three years hold for each NBA franchise, looking at players, management, money, market and draft. And in their current rankings, the Brooklyn Nets have "climbed" their way to No. 19 on the list.
The Nets score high in market, players and management, but fall short in draft picks and money, as they are currently projected to be well over the salary cap over the next three seasons, as it stands, and they had traded their 2014 and 2016 first-round draft picks to the Boston Celtics this summer.
In theory, the collective bargaining agreement was designed to protect the owners from themselves by enforcing strict punitive measures to discourage teams from spending recklessly. Let the Brooklyn Nets stand as a shining example that there are exceptions to every theory. Fueled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov's unlimited coffers, the Nets set out to spend their way into title contention now by mortgaging much of their future to acquire aging Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce (as well as veteran scoring guard Jason Terry).
The result: a payroll of $102 million and an estimated tax bill north of $80 million. That's not a typo: When all is said and done, the Nets might be paying more in luxury taxes than 28 out of the 30 teams in the league are paying in payroll.
But to focus on the gaudy spending misses the real harm in what the Nets achieved: In order to acquire the high-priced veterans who make up their roster, they've repeatedly traded away first-round draft choices with no protections and given away pick swaps, effectively paying tomorrow for the sins of today. And while they have improved in the very short term (this season), they still aren't better than the Heat, Bulls or Pacers, and unlike these rivals, there is no long-term play with the current roster in Brooklyn.
The good news is that the Nets have improved their standing in the "Future Power Rankings" since May of 2013 when they ranked No. 21.
You have to think, too, that if Bojan Bogdanovic were to make his way over next summer their future ranking would improve even further.
Moreover, the analysis doesn't seem to take into account what cap guru Larry Coon wrote last week in his discussion of CBA winners and losers, also for ESPN: "Having the ability to spend gives them additional options that most teams don't have."
- NBA Future Power Rankings: 16-20 - ESPN (Insider)