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NetsDaily Off-Season Report #8


Every Sunday, we’ll be updating the Nets' off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help take the edge off missing the second round of the playoffs, relying on the Nets’ beat reporters and others who have slipped interesting stuff into larger stories, blogs and our own reporting.

This week we take a deep breath and for the second week in a row, offer the only word available to sum things up: WOW! Even more than the signing of Jason Kidd as head coach 127 hours after he retired, the trade or THE TRADE is soooo exciting, precisely because of its reward-to-risk ratio. We take a deep look, offer some insights and just have a grand old time. We also look at the mundane ... and what isn't after Thursday.

Kevin Garnett

NBA champion (2008)
NBA Most Valuable Player (2004)
15× NBA All-Star (1997–1998, 2000–2011, 2013)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (2003)
NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2008)
4× All-NBA First Team (2000, 2003–2004, 2008)
3× All-NBA Second Team (2001–2002, 2005)
2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2007)
9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000–2005, 2008–2009, 2011)
3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2006–2007, 2012)
NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1996)
4× NBA rebounding champion (2004–2007)
J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2006)
Illinois Mr. Basketball (1995)

Paul Pierce

NBA champion (2008)
NBA Finals MVP (2008)
10× NBA All-Star (2002–2006, 2008–2012)
All-NBA Second Team (2009)
3× All-NBA Third Team (2002–2003, 2008)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (1999)
NBA Three-Point Shootout champion (2010)
Big 12 Tournament MVP (1997-1998)
Consensus NCAA All-American First Team (1998)

Let's just start there. The Ticket and The Truth. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are future Hall of Famers and current Nets. Garnett is one of the greatest players of all-time. They can still bring it, maybe not at the level they brought if five years ago, but they are not done. Garnett, an All-Star last season, had five games of 20 and 10 in limited minutes, including one of 20 and 18 on February 18 vs. Denver. He was an All-Star. Pierce had 15 games of 25 or more points, a triple double on March 29 vs. the Hawks and back-to-back games of 40 and 35 in December.

We know how old they are. We know how much money they make. We know their minutes will have to managed. We know it's a risk. We know about the picks. We know they're going to slow and unathletic. We know, we know, we know. Enough. Let us enjoy ourselves.

We are comforted by a number of things some of the critics seem to have overlooked. The five players the Nets sent out averaged 24.0 points per game, including 0.9 by Kris Joseph in 10 games. The three aged players who the Nets brought in averaged 43.4. Yes, the Nets have an NBA-low three first rounders and three second rounders over the next six years. We hear and read a lot of laments about that, but the Lakers over the past six years have had zero first round picks ... zero, zilch, nada, ought. The Heat have had three in the past seven years (and they blew their highest pick on Michael Beasley.) Yeah, everyone would like to be San Antonio, but not everyone follows the same path to the "gold trophy." The Nets decided to go the veteran route. Deal with it.

Also, and this is a bit of a shocker: The Nets get out of luxury tax hell as a result of the trade. As one Nets insider put it, "By doing the deal we will go under the tax in 2015-16, thus avoiding the repeater tax." Indeed in 2013-14 and 2014-15, as currently projected, the Nets will pay more as a result of the trade. But with Wallace's deal off the books in 2015-16, the Nets go under the tax threshold. That's important. The dreaded repeated tax kicks in after a team has gone over the threshold for three consecutive years. That will give them opportunities, like the ability to sign-and-trade, with the free agent draft class in 2016. Who's available? Hint: his initials are KD.

Having a veteran team will also help Jason Kidd coach. The Nets want Kidd to be "the long term solution" as one Nets insider told us Thursday. Having a veteran lineup whose credentials include 35 all star appearances should help him along, as should the presence of Lawrence Frank who has good relations with Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez. The same insider said the Nets expect Kidd will have a learning curve but that curve just flattened out a bit.

By the way, the 35 all-star appearances break down this way: 15 for Garnett, 10 for Pierce, six for Joe Johnson, three for Deron Williams and one for Lopez. The Nets new roster, as of July 10, will have three NBA championship rings, one each by Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry; four Olympic gold medals, two each for Garnett and Williams.

How it unfolded

We expect to hear a lot this week about the deal unfolded, but the basics as we understand them is that the Celtics and Nets agreed to a trade for Pierce first: Pierce for Kris Humphries and the 2016 first rounder. Pierce had told the Celtics that Brooklyn was his preferred location. A solid use of Hump's contract.

Billy King and Nets ownership then decided to push the envelope and go for Garnett as well. The key piece was Gerald Wallace, who everyone on the NetsDaily board believed was untradeable. The Celtics wanted the picks to compensate them, but they didn't turn it down. By Thursday afternoon, Danny Ainge had signaled a willingness to deal. Garnett had to waive his no-trade clause When the Nets agreed not to exercise a team option in 2014-15, a decision that guaranteed him $12 million for year, the die was cast.

As always, some permutations were needed. Originally, Toko Shengelia was included and Kris Joseph was not. Joseph's contract may have been more appealing: the Celtics knew Joseph having drafted him. Perhaps more significantly, Shengelia's deal is fully guaranteed for this season, Joseph's is not. If Joseph is still on the Boston roster on August 1, the Celtics will owe him $100,000. Shengelia will make nearly $800,000 no matter what.

Ainge wanted Terry included and the Nets ultimately relented. Initially, they didn't want to pay the additional luxury taxes associated with Terry's contract, which has two years and nearly $11 million left. Moscow gave its approval. He also wanted and got an agreement to swap first rounders in 2017.

There are other permutations. Originally, it was Reggie Evans going to Boston, not MarShon Brooks. Brooks was being shopped around and the bottom line for the Nets was that Brooks preferred to leave and that Evans certainly has value. Besides, the Nets weren't finding takers for Brooks. A proposed deal with Minnesota for the 26th pick never got off the ground. So he went in and Evans came out. Bogans, the secret trade asset, had to agree to the deal, but since he was being offered $5 million to be ballast in a salary dump, he readily agreed.

The deal was agreed to mid-afternoon but the details were not finalized till later that night. Actually, the deal cannot be official until July 10. The Celtics must agree not to exercise their team option on Pierce this weekend and then the annual trade moratorium kicks in Monday. Expect a big press conference shortly thereafter.

Trade exceptions

The value of trade exceptions is essentially up to the league. The two teams can configure them, but the NBA gets the final word. So far, we're told nothing is definitive. CelticsBlog believes that Boston will get one. The Nets think that if they get a trade exception, it will be too small to be useful in the off-season. Also, the Nets cannot accept a player in a sign-and-trade, even if the deal involves a trade exception. So the options would be limited anyway.

Jason Terry

What to make of Terry, whose game dropped off precipitously in Boston last season? He is owed $5,225,000 this year and $5,450,000 in 2014-15. He's 35 and seemed to be done, but without getting into details about his demise, we're hoping that his teammate in Dallas, Coach Kidd, can coax the best out of him. And yes, we did hear that the Nets would like to deal him, but it would have to be one-on-one ... and it would be very difficult.

The Pursuit of Pierce

This turned out to be the third time Billy King and Danny Ainge talked about Pierce.

At the March 15, 2012 deadline, after the Dwight Debacle that morning, the Celtics offered the Nets Pierce for Mehmet Okur's expiring deal and their (unprotected) and likely lottery pick in June. Not longer after they made the deal, they pulled the offer, said someone with knowledge of the discussions. The Nets traded the slightly protected pick, Okur and Shawne Williams for Gerald Wallace later the day.

At the February 22, 2013 trade deadline, the Celtics and Nets talked again. In that deal, according to Fred Kerber, the Nets could have have Pierce for two first round picks, Kris Humphries, Mirza Teletovic and MarShon Brooks. The Nets said no. Good they waited.

Here's Kerber's tweet.

The roster, as is

They're not done. As one insider told us, "We have work to do." The Nets are pursuing Kyle Korver as their shooter. He's an unrestricted free agent and can be offered all or part of the mini-MLE. Most likely a big part of the $3.2 million annual salary and $10 million package. The Nets think they have a good chance, with D-WIll one of his best friends, Billy King, the GM who gave him his start. He is also reportedly friendly with Jason Kidd.

He is likely to get other offers, but we're sure his agent, JEFF SCHWARTZ, will advise him on the opportunities that await him in Brooklyn. If Korver does sign, expect him to join that press conference. We just wonder if Schwartz eill be there as well. He should be. The Nets credit him with helping them re-sign Williams, helping them convince Pierce to seek a trade to Brooklyn.

That leads to back-up point guard. They say they will give Tyshawn Taylor (agent: Jeff Schwartz) an opportunity, but Kidd wants a veteran. There are a number of them, including Brooklynites Jamaal Tinsley and Sebastian Telfair; Shaun Livingston, Devin Harris and Daniel Gibson. Harris is probably too expensive for the Nets, but the others seem to be vets minimum players.

Then, there's Andray Blatche, the Nets most important free agent. Until the arrival of KG, it seemed certain Blatche would return to the fold, but on Saturday he seemed to having second thoughts, at least on Instagram...

The idea that he could start at PF went out the window when the Nets acquired Garnett. Of course, he couldplay a lot of minutes behind Lopez and Garnett at both big positions. The two of them averaged 30 minutes a game last year. Will that be enough? Who knows? Is it possible another team could offer him a deal? Sure, but it's not likely to make him a rich man, or much richer than he will be with his Wizard amnesty payments. The more likely issue he's ruminating is this: at the end of next year, his amnesty payments run out. Between now and then, he has to start thinking of his next contract, which is also likely to be his last good one. If he stays with the Nets, he will be eligible for Early Bird Rights next summer, but next summer are the Nets going to want to pay him big bucks when they have KG on board for another year? The Nets also drafted as big man in Mason Plumlee. Is he Blatche insurance?

And what about Plumlee? We liked the pick. He is insanely athletic, improved every year at Duke and comes recommended by Coach K. We would have liked Gorgui Dieng better, but Plumlee has two good knees. DIeng doesn't. Plumlee is not likely to replace Blatche. He can't play power forward -- he is a post player, period. If Blatche leaves, the Nets will have to go into the market looking for a back-up center willing to take the vets minimum or a player amnestied (and waived).

There has to be another concern for Blatche: the Nets hopes for Mirza Teletovic (agent: Jeff Schwartz). The Nets consider him untradeable. Really. Both ownership and management want to give him a real opportunity to succeed at PF. And Reggie Evans will need minutes, too, or he could become a distraction. There's a reason he played on so many teams.

And where does all this leave Bojan Bogdanovic? Good question. The Nets would like to bring him over. He wants to come over, but with Korver likely to get offered all or a big part of the mini-MLE, his arrival may get pushed back. The key issue, as it always was, is his buyout. Will Fenerbahce ultimately reduce it from the $2 million in his contract? And even if the Turkish club does agree, how much will he need to sign. He makes seven figures in Europe. The risk for the Nets is that next summer, when he's a free agent, he's likely to get a big offer from a European club that will keep him in Europe for another few years. The risk for him is that he doesn't get a shot in the NBA without the Nets approval. The risk for Fener is that he leaves next summer without them getting a euro from anyone.

We should know the answer on Korver, the back-up point guard and Blatche in very short order, like the next two weeks. Bogdanovic may take a while longer.

More on Plumlee

If the Nets hadn't made their biggest trade in a dozen years, we'd be filling these pages with all sorts of data, video, assessments, etc. on his prospects. Suffice it to say he is athletic for a seven footer, VERY athletic. Don't take our word for it. He is the all-time Duke dunk leader and can do it with style.

Here's his official Duke highlight package. Pay particular attention to what he does at about 2:15 in.

And here's Draft Express' analysis of him. By the way, Draft Express got it right. In their last mock draft, they had Plumlee going to the Nets.

Also, here's an extensive write-up on him by Kevin O'Connor of CelticsBlog on Plumlee, who was in play at #16.

FYI, Plumlee measured out at 7'0.5" with shoes at the Pre-Draft Combine, the same height as Brook Lopez did five years ago.

The Nets got generally good grades for the pick, but we stopped paying attention to Draft grades after Dick Vitale said Antoine Wright could be the next Dywane Wade. Why didn't they use their $3 million in the second round? The pickings were slim and the roster openings slimmer. Of course, they have until Sunday to use it in a trade, not that we know of anything afoot.

Summer leaguers

The Nets will be releasing their full summer league roster this week. So far, all we know is that Plumlee, Taylor and Shengelia, along with Damion James (he's baaack!) and David Lighty will be among Kidd's first coaching charges.

James is on the roster because Kris Joseph isn't. He had very good year in the D-League but played 28 seconds for the Nets on his 10-day contract this season.

Lighty is interesting. A solid shooting guard at 6'6", he has played the last two years in Europe after a solid career at Ohio State, where he was part of the Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr. recruiting class. This season, he shot 42.5 percent from deep in the French League and was the MVP in the French League Finals, leading eighth seeded Nanterre, a team that had never won before, to the championship. If he does well, he could get a training camp invite. He's 25.

So it looks like Kidd's starting lineup next weekend in Orlando will be Taylor and Lighty in the backcourt, Shengelia and James at the forwards and Plumlee manning the middle. The Nets expect to do well in the summer league, which this year for the first time will have a championship round. The Nets open against the Pistons at 5 p.m. ET. We think the games will be streamed online. They have in the past, but the Magic website isn't very helpful.

Final Note

First of all, we failed last week. We proposed several uses for HBAP and didn't think big enough, boldly enough. We didn't profile Mason Plumlee as a Draft Sleeper of the week (although we recall profiling David Lighty in 2011, so that's something.) We also didn't think there was much a chance for a Draft Night trade. Oh well.

We are looking forward to the Nets big press conference for Pierce and Garnett (and whoever else the Nets may have signed by then.) But we are REALLY looking forward to opening night at Barclays Center. Brett Yormark has months to prepare for the introductions of Kidd, Pierce and Garnett. Will the Nets retire Kidd's jersey that night? We think not. We think they will wait for a night where the spotlight won't have to be shared. Maybe the Mavericks game so Dirk Nowitzki can join in the celebration. Maybe the Knicks so that they can be reminded what he did for them (and how bad they will be without him.)

Farewell to Marshon Brooks, Kris Humprhies, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans and Kris Joseph. With Hump's departure, there's only one player left from the 2009-10 Nets, the 12-70 debacle. But, on the other hand, Lawrence Frank and Roy Rogers are back!