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Money as well as basketball will be part of Brooklyn Nets decisions


Billy King has been notably circumspect about the future of his two Hall of Famers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. As he told WIP Friday morning...

Garnett is under contract and until something changes. You know Paul is a free agent. So we'll see what comes about July 1. But as Paul said, I think Paul had a good year for us and I think he has at least two more good years, as Paul said.

In his talk with reporters on Wednesday King offered, "I don't know," when asked if one player's return was essential for the other's.

Word from inside is that the Nets believe strongly that KG will be back and because Pierce can get more money from the Nets than from any other team, he's likely to return as well.  BUT there are questions and they deal with money. If a team winds up paying any luxury tax three years straight, their tax bill jumps. The Nets paid luxury tax bills in 2012-13 and last year. So this year is critical.

As Mike Mazzeo points out, the team will come perilously to the repeater tax if KG returns and Pierce gets a salary near $10 million next year. How expensive would that be? If the Nets had been subject to the repeater tax this past season, they would have paid $133 million in luxury taxes, not the $89 million check Mikhail Prokhorov will have to write this summer to the league. No matter how rich an owner is, nor how great his commitment, that's a lot of money. (It should be noted that the luxury tax bill any year is dependent on how much a roster is paid the last day of the regular season, not the first. So, the Nets could make moves before the February trade deadline to get them under the tax threshold but it would not be easy and they would not be competitive.)

There's little doubt the Nets need Pierce and Garnett if their championship window is to remain ajar if not wide open, particularly Pierce. The versatile Pierce remains capable of big games and a steady season. He's also been remarkably durable. And he is an emotional, experienced leader. The question is how much will he want to stay?

It seems like the front office will do what it can to surround their big ticket (pun intended) items with low-budget, high value players, investing in D-Leaguers, international players, diamonds in the rough and whatever they can get in the draft, as they did the past two years with Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee. But before they do that, they'll need to see whether Pierce and Garnett are interested in returning.