In recent years, Brooklyn has taken a world class beating on the trade market.
Whether it was going all in on Deron Williams or trading the clothes off their back for the aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets have gotten shelled whenever they’ve pulled the trigger on a big deal. You can argue that D-Will was a great deal when it happened, but now... They have done well on the smaller deals, like getting Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev for Marcus Thornton and the rights to two Europeans.
Two weeks ago, with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, another disaster appeared to be imminent. Brook Lopez was rumored to be headed to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Reggie Jackson, a dynamic, moody point guard who had overstayed his welcome with Russell Westbrook & Co.
With D-Will and Jarrett Jack dominating the ball-handling duties, Jackson would be right back into the same platoon position that drove him, and his teammates, mad in OKC. The Nets didn’t even need Jackson -- it was a move rooted entirely in the team’s desire to rid itself of Lopez’s contract, get under the luxury tax threshold and start the rebuild ... with Jackson rather than D-Will in charge.
Shedding money is great, but cutting ties with a top-10 center for a problematic point guard in the midst of a playoff race? That’d be another misfire for Brooklyn.
But it didn’t happen. OKC balked and balked and eventually dealt Jackson to the Detroit Pistons, who had won five straight without him but have since gone 1-3 with him. The 24-year-old has averaged 16 points on 33.3 percent shooting (and an abysmal 23.5 percent from distance) to go along with 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds in the Motor City. And he's still moody.
What did happen, however, was a godsend for the Nets.
In an effort to either satisfy an antsy fanbase growing tired of tanking or to honor one of the franchise’s all-time greats (or simply to sell tickets), the Timberwolves were willing to give up Thad Young in exchange for Garnett, who spent his first 13 legendary seasons in Minnesota.
Have you ever reached into your pocket and found money you didn’t know you had? That’s what happened here -- but instead of a crumpled up single, the Nets found a crisp $100 bill.
KG brought a ton to Brooklyn these past two years, mostly as a leader and mentor. Without finances in mind, his is on-court play was respectable. But for the price the Nets paid for his services, Garnett was a massive disappointment between the lines.
The 38-year-old veteran, due $12 million in the final year of his contract, waived his no-trade clause and agreed to head back to where his Hall-of-Fame journey began. Brooklyn waved goodbye as the Big Ticket rode off in the sunset, but as soon as he was out of sight, the front office did a hop, skip and jump. Lionel Hollins, for one, was reported to be thrilled.
Young, a 26-year-old truck who can play the 3 or the 4, is a guy who can produce for a long time with this team. He’s a well-rounded scorer at 6’8", and has averaged a solid 13.4 points on 58 percent shooting --60 percent from downtown-- during his five games with the Nets. All in 22 minutes per game.
After Young’s first outing with his new team, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post wrote that the Nets "got younger, cheaper and better all at once in acquiring Young, who also fills a role as a combo forward capable of playing at either the three or four -- which the Nets have needed throughout this season."
In a pair of huge wins, perhaps the Nets’ biggest of the year, Young shined.
During a 10-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 28, the seven-year vet was good for 16 points (7-12 FG) and eight boards. Two nights later, in an enormous upset over the Golden State Warriors, Young went for 14 points (5-9 FG), four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
It goes beyond scoring, too.
"I think one of the things about me is I’m a player that doesn’t really need the ball in his hands all the time just to play," Young told beat writers after his 14 point, four assist, four rebound game vs. Golden State. "I’ll go get offensive rebounds, I’ll set screens, I’ll do pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop. I’ll do a lot of different things on the court that will give you opportunities to score the basketball and I’ll give you opportunities to put someone else in position to score the basketball."
And he'll do it coming off the bench, too, although he's said he'd prefer starting.
According to Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York, the Nets plan on keeping Young (who has a player option worth around $10 million next season) beyond 2015-16.
Why wouldn’t they?
"It means a lot," Young told the writers when asked about the Nets desire to keep him as a core piece. "It means that I’m definitely a player that has come into his own and being able to go out there and do a lot of things to help my team win basketball games. Sometimes I can go out there and be a game-changer with the energy I bring to the table."
Assuming he wants to re-up for a similar deal, there’s no reason Brooklyn shouldn’t do all it can to keep Young around long-term. He is only 26, two months younger than Brook Lopez and only 10 months older than Bojan Bogdanovic.
After shelling out draft picks like they were poker chips in recent years, the Nets finally have some young blood running through the team’s veins. Young, Markel Brown, Mason Plumlee, Sergey Karasev, Bojan Bogdanovic and Cory Jefferson have all earned significant roles under Lionel Hollins. The Nets in fact have gone from second oldest to 16th since the beginning of last season.
It might take a while for the Nets to get back into true contention, but this move was definitely a step in the right direction.
Isn't it nice to be on the good side of a meaningful trade for once?
- Thaddeus Young fitting in with the Nets - Mike Mazzeo - ESN New York