The Nets are in trouble. Brook Lopez, one of the team's centerpieces, is out for the rest of the year and it looks like his history of foot injuries could threaten his career. Deron Williams has the talent to lead this ball club, but he hasn't lived up to his billing with the Nets ... besides the second half of last season and some intermittent stretches the year before that..
Past those two, the Nets don't have any impact players now that don't have the "but" factor involved. Joe Johnson has been as consistent as they come, BUT he has an absurd contract that isn't up until 2016. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are veterans with championship experience motivated for one last run at glory, BUT they've aged much faster than many expected over the summer and have been a failed experiment in Brooklyn thus far.
Brooklyn doesn't have draft picks in the near future, BUT if this team continues to come up on the losing end, they may run a garage scale to regain some.
But in the interim, could they be interested in younger players? Call them "fallen angels" or "draft pick substitutes, , young, quality players who are bad fits with their current team or just need a new start elsewhere.
We looked at players that we thought could realistically be attractive to Brooklyn and also could be on the trading block. These are guys who could be acquired on their own or be part of bigger deals ... if the Nets decide to blow it up.
Tyler Zeller, C, Cavilers
Had the Nets kept their first round pick in 2012, which was traded for Gerald Wallace and became Damian Lilard, the Nets may very well have taken Tyler Zeller, league sources say. Now the Nets might be able get the former Tar Heel for a much cheaper price and not need him to be a crucial piece. Consider him Brook Lopez insurance. The Cavilers had a goal of the playoffs this season, but that hasn't gone according to plan thus far. There are rumors they're mulling offers for the likes of Dion Waiters, but Zeller, 23, has to be considered excess. Zeller was used much more often in his rookie season because Anderson Varejao was hurt. Zellers started 55 games, but has seen his playing time drop off in his sophomore campaign. Per 36 minutes, Zeller is more improved than last season, though. He is scoring 12 points per 36 minutes while shooting 53% from the floor. Zeller is more of an offensive player rather than a defender. With Lopez out for the rest of the season, Zeller could help the Nets with his fundamental play. He is not very quick, but Zeller can be a rotational player in Brooklyn right now and in the future, so if the Nets look to blow this whole team up, Zeller can be a nice fit for a team rebuilding. How would he and Mason Plumlee work out? Can never have two many skilled bigs and both have the talent to play both power positions. Still on his rookie contract, paid $1.6 million this season.
Tom Lorenzo believes that Zach Randolph would be a great fit in Brooklyn, but let's take a look at his backup. Memphis acquired Davis, hoping he'd be a major player in their championship pursuit but he hasn't panned out as well as the Grizzlies had hoped. The team is fighting to stay out of the basement of the West, and could look to remake their entire roster. The team was listening to offers for Randoph from the likes of the Pelicans. Could the Nets get Davis for a cheaper price? Davis is young (24) and has a nice skill set already. He can take his game outside of the paint, he is shooting 43% on his jump shots this season, and is a capable rebounder, grabbing almost seven rebounds a game for his career. Will he be an immediate impact in Brooklyn? No. But the Nets could use a young player like Davis to build around. A player who can face up with Davis' size is ideal in the league today, Both the Nets and Grizzlies are in ugly predicaments at the moment, and could benefit from exchanging assets. Still on his rookie contract, paid $3.1 million this year.
Big Baby has long been rumored to be a part of trade rumors "for the right price," as Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld writes and the Nets would be smart to inquire about the hard working big man. Davis works quite hard, mainly because he is undersized at least as measured by height. He averages 13 points and seven rebounds on a young, rebuilding Magic team this season. Davis is about to be 28 and his best years should be just starting. He needs to go to a team that will contend now for his skill to be most used. Those who watched him with the Celtics remember his big game moments when Garnett was out in the 2009 playoffs. In 14 games, he averaged 15.8 and 5.6 rebounds. Davis could give the Nets the heart they seem to lack on the floor with his hustle and a pick-and-roll presence. He isn't the best finisher in the pick-and-roll, but he does roll on 28% of his possessions, per Synergy, and gets into the middle of team's defenses. The fact that Davis can get inside the opposing team's paint is crucial for a team like the Nets, a team that plays too much on the perimeter. Davis is a mediocre defender due to his height disadvantage, but he is the kind of player that one would want on their team that tries his hardest no matter what, clearly an issue for the Nets. The Magic don't want to take on money in the long term, so the Nets could offer several veterans that have contracts expiring in the near future to guide some of Orlando's young players for a period of time. He is owed $13 million over this year and next, $6.4 million this year.
These two young forwards have fallen out of Houston's rotation as of late and could be on the move. Montiejunas was solid last season in his first season in the league, averaging 16 points and six rebounds per 36 minutes, but this season he has struggled to find a spot in the Rockets one in, four out attack. Motiejunas, 23, is fairly athletic for his 7' frame and is a willing passer out of the post. The Lithuanian is comfortable going outside of the paint, but hasn't become adept in Kevin McHale's system this season. As a defender, Motiejunas is not great, but can hold his position against fellow big men. He is a big body that can move well on the floor, but hasn't showcased much of it in his short tenure in the league. The Nets might be able to get this European for cheap and can use him with Deron Williams as he and Jason Kidd try to establish a faster pace to their game. He's still on his rookie contract, paid $1.4 million this year.
Robinson has had an underwhelming start to his NBA career after being drafted fifth overall out of Kansas. However, the Nets were VERY high on him before the 2012 draft, so maybe the Nets haven't been turned off by Robinson's poor start. Robinson is on his third team in two seasons and may be on the move again with the way his playing time has broken down on the Trail Blazers this season. Of his three teams so far --Kings, Rockets and Blazers, Robinson is playing his fewest minutes in Portland, 11 minutes per game and now that he's been replaced by Myers Leonard in the rotation, they'll drop more. He hasn't played in the last five games, and Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge breaks down why. He's a bit undersized for a power forward and the stats show that he has been hurting the Blazers offensive game, so what can he bring to the Nets if he is traded there? For one, the 22-year-old could be acquired for very little. The question is whether other teams with more assets see him as a diamond in the rough. Robinson does make some nice plays on the glass and in the paint, but past that he has a limited skill set, something scouts feared when he was going through the draft process. This would be a risky call by the Nets, who have to start avoiding the risks of players after the moves they have tried over the past two seasons, but it could work out if Robinson can pan out to his potential as an athletic four who can outwork others. He's still on his rookie deal, paid $3.5 million this season.
Kidd-Gilchrist is very young (20) and raw and is also dealing with a broken hand at the moment. Of all the players listed, he's the one least likely to be moved. That being said, Kidd-Gilchrist could be a fine building block for Brooklyn going forward. Chad Ford said a week ago that the Bobcats are looking to get better now ... and the Nets can give them talent to succeed in the short term. In Brooklyn, MKG can develop as a player under Jason Kidd and be an instant upgrade to the team's defense. This season he has a defensive rating of 101 and he has a great frame to defend wings, but his offense is still rough. He has an offensive rating of just 99 and doesn't shoot beyond the arc, just two-of-fourteen over his two seasons in the league. The Nets do have Johnson and Williams to create offense, though, so Kidd-Gilchrist can mold his offensive game around the two scoring guards. The former Kentucky standout would be an intriguing trade target for Brooklyn. He's still on his rookie contract, paid $4.8 million this season.
So why no trade machine links? We figured we'd leave that to you!