The Nets face a long summer of tough decisions with the likely outcome being a different roster. Continuity, the key resource the Hawks used to go from 38 to 60 wins, is unavailable to the Nets because of repeater tax concerns and the lack of trade assets, particularly draft picks.
Here's a primer on where things stand, in ascending order of uncertainty and importance.
Under contract through the end of 2015-16: Joe Johnson, owed $24.894 million next season; Deron WIlliams, owed $21.042 million next season with a player option of $22.331 in 2016-17 in 2016-17; Jarrett Jack, owed $6.3 million next season and with $500,000 guaranteed on a $6.3 million salary in 2016-17; and Bojan Bogdanovic, owed $3.425 million next season and $3.573 in 2016-17 with a qualifying offer of $4.426 million in 2017-18.
Analysis: Nets would like to move Johnson and Williams this summer, but the likelihood of moving both is limited, to say the least.
Johnson would seem the more likely to be moved, but it's unlikely he brings back anything. The Nets and Hornets reportedly talked mid-season about a deal that would sent Johnson to Charlotte for a package of Lance Stephenson, Gerald Henderson and Marvin Williams. Such a deal wouldn't save the Nets much money, assuming Henderson opts in on his player option.
The best reported offer for D-Will would have sent him and Mason Plumlee to Sacramento for Darren Collison, Derrick Williams, Jason Thompson and possibly Nick Stauskas. The Nets did not want to move Plumlee. Also, since then, Stauskas has become much more valuable. It too is unlikely to be revived.
The Nets reportedly had a deal for Jack if the Reggie Jackson-for-Brook Lopez deal had gone down. He would have been sent to Washington for Martell Webster and the right to swap first round picks at some point.
Bogdanovic is viewed as a bargain.
On rookie contracts: Mason Plumlee and Sergey Karasev, as members of the 2013 draft class, are under contract through next season, with the team holding an option for 2016-17. Plumlee will earn $1.415 million next season and $2.328 million in 2016-17. Karasev, because he was drafted three spots ahead of Plumlee, will get $1.599 million and $2.463 million.
Analysis: As noted, the Nets didn't want to deal Plumlee in a rumored deal with the Kings. His status now, after a rapid decline post-All Star Break, is uncertain. Karasev hopes to resume basketball related activities in August following knee surgery to repair a dislocated patella and torn MCL of the right knee. He may take a while to get completely back.
Restricted free agent: The Nets have until June 30 to offer Mirza Teletovic a qualifying offer of $4.21 million. They are expected to do so. He can accept it or try his hand in free agency. . The Nets hold his Bird Rights so they can sign him for as much as they want in free agency.
Analysis: Teletovic wasn't having a great season when he went down in January with blood clots in both lungs. He was inconsistent. How much can be attributed to his condition is difficult to assess. At 29, this will be his last big contract, so it's hard to imagine he won't test the waters. Zach Lowe has suggested the Spurs might make him an offer. Teletovic has said that he would like to stay, but that he will leave the decision in the hands of his agent, Jeff Schwartz, who now reps only two Nets, him and D-Will.
Unrestricted free agent: Jerome Jordan, who made the vets minimum this season. Because the Nets hold his non-Bird rights, they can retain him by giving him a qualifying offer of $1.147 million by June 30.
Analysis: Jordan could return overseas or he could wind up in Nets training camp with no guarantees.
Partially guaranteed contracts: Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson, Darius Morris and Earl Clark. Each of the four have some level of guarantee. Brown, Jefferson and Morris will all start receiving guarantees if they are still on the roster on July 1, Brown $100,000 on July 1 with more each succeeding month until he's fully guaranteed the day before Media Day, September 29; Jefferson $150,000 on July 15, with the same progression until September 29; Morris $25,000 starting July 1, and Clark $200,000 if not waived by October 26. Clark would earn $1.185 million, the most of the four, if fully guaranteed; Morris $1.015 million, the other two $845,059.
Analysis: It's hard to believe there's a lot of interest in keeping anyone but Brown and possibly Jefferson. Because of their small guarantees, they present ideal trade ballast. Each counts at their full salary in trade discussions, but can be cut by the receiving team. Clark cannot be traded until July 6.
Player options: Brook Lopez has a player option of $16.744 million; Thaddeus Young $10.221 million and Alan Anderson $1.333 million. Anderson has informed the Nets he will not exercise his option, making him a free agent. Lopez is expected to do the same, although he says he's uncertain. Young has hinted he might opt in for next season in hopes of playing well, becoming a free agent a year from now, just as the TV rights package dramatically increases the cap.
Analysis: The Nets have Anderson's Early Bird Rights so they can sign him to a deal up to $25 million over four years. It won't be that high of course, but Anderson has proved his worth. This is his last chance for a good deal. He turns 33 in October. He's a favorite of Lionel Hollins and his teammates. We expect him back.
Lopez was the team's MVP and is the most popular of the Nets players. The Nets have tried to trade him for everyone from Dwight Howard to Reggie Jackson. According to those close to him, he thought he was gone at the deadline. It's a business, but eventually, this has to wear thin. Also, his relationship with Hollins is uncertain. Hollins called him out, benched him for a month. On the other hand, he's played better under Hollins than any of the six previous Nets coaches he's worked with. The Nets want him back, and they can pay him more than any other team, but there are a lot of questions that must be answered before a deal can be concluded. It is far from a given that he will be back. The other question, of course, is what's the market? How many teams are going to make him an offer, at at what price?
Young seems to love Brooklyn. His wife has come out and said it directly! One troubling aspect of Saturday's "baggie day" was that he hinted he wants to see what Lopez is going to do before he decides what he will do. If Lopez goes elsewhere, does Young start looking around. He's only 26 and could get a number of offers. If the Nets lost both, it would be disastrous, pure and simple. If on the other hand, he decides to wait a year, it would be a big plus for the Nets.
Bottom line: if the Nets are going to attract solid free agents next summer, they have to offer them something other than money. Free agents want to know who they are going to play with, whether they have a chance to win. Cap Space never hit a shot or grabbed a rebound.
Draft picks: The Nets have two this year and enough money to buy another. Their first rounder, at No. 29, will cost the Nets $950,200. Their second rounder, at No. 41, no less than $525,093. The Nets also have $2.3 million left to spend. That should more than enough to buy a mid second rounder. The 76ers always have a few to spare. But if the Nets decide to spend money, it's likely to be on a Euro-Stash, a young European player who they would let develop overseas.
Analysis: The Nets have a great deal of faith in their scouting staff and don't seem that worried about the swap with the Hawks. If the Nets had fallen into the lottery, the concern would have been greater. Could the Nets offer their pick in a Draft Day deal to dump one of their big contracts? Almost certainly.
The big question underlying all these decisions is how much are the Nets willing to pay in luxury taxes, particularly with the the repeater tax looming. Mikhail Prokhorov said he's willing to pay (and it is his personal fortune, not a corporate entity), but every move the Nets made this season dropped their payroll and luxury tax commitments, from dumping Andrei Kirilenko on Philly to swapping Kevin Garnett for Thaddeus Young. If they had done the Lopez-for-Jackson deal, along with other moves at the deadline, they would have gone under the luxury tax threshold. So don't dismiss the need to save money.
Of course, there is an expiration date on all of this. The Nets currently have only $25 million committed in the 2016-17. And the salary cap and luxury tax threshold will be lot more forgiving then, with the TV deal money in place. As USA Today reported recently...
The salary cap and luxury tax line will increase to approximately $67.1 million and $81.6 million next season, up from $63.065 million and $76.829 million this season and starting in the 2016-17 – when the league's new lucrative multi-billion TV deal kicks in – the cap will increase to $89 million and the luxury tax threshold to $108 million and it will spike again to $108 million for the cap and $127 million for the luxury tax in 2017-18.
That's a good thing for a team with a mega-rich owner and a record of commitment.
So we wait. The Draft is now 54 days away. Free agency begins another two weeks after that. And there are 150 days to the opening of training camp. Lots can happen and no doubt will.
- Your one-stop guide to the Nets’ tricky offseason - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Brooklyn Nets Free Agency Primer: Brook Lopez - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Brooklyn Nets Free Agency Primer: Thaddeus Young - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Brooklyn Nets Free Agency Primer: Mirza Teletovic - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Brooklyn Nets Free Agency Primer: Alan Anderson - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game