Thursday night during the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets traded Mason Plumlee and second-round draft pick Pat Connaughton out of Notre Dame for point guard Steve Blake and first-round draft pick Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Plumlee, a second year center for the Nets, had played well early on in the 2014-15 season, but regressed big time in the second half of the season coming off the bench behind Brook Lopez.
Lopez, who dominated play after the All-Star Break, has the opportunity to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer, which, with the trade of Plumlee means one thing:
Nets trading Plumlee has to mean they’re confident they can retain Brook Lopez. He’s the only center on their roster now.
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) June 26, 2015
Trading Mason Plumlee only reinforces a growing belief that Brook Lopez won't be going anywhere next month.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 26, 2015
Nets are confident they can re-sign Brook Lopez. Sources say 1 potential option is for Lopez to sign a 3-year max deal after opting out
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) June 26, 2015
As Mike Mazzeo of ESPN notes, Lopez could sign a three-year deal with an opt-out for the third year where he can once again test the waters, but this time it will be when the NBA TV money is expected to increase the salary cap big time.
Latest on Lopez. If it is a two-year deal with an opt-out would allow him to be paid $$$ in 2017-18, as I blogged. https://t.co/cUL0eZxGDh
— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) June 26, 2015
Again, nothing is certain, but it appears as if the trade means that the Nets are confident that they'll be able to retain Lopez. But there are other shoes left to drop, ones that will make grading the night's events all the more difficult.
The Nets, with Blake joining Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack and Markel Brown, who's been asked to practice his poin guard skills, the point guard position is crowded. It wouldn't be surprising if the Nets have a deal in place to send Jack elsewhere.
Also, who's Lopez's back-up now that Plumlee is gone? Jerome Jordan was a third stringer and the Nets have renounced his rights. They will need to add someone. Is it Sasha Kaun, the Russian who the Nets reportedly have interest in? The Cavs own his rights so the Nets would first have to pry them away from Cleveland, then find a way to sign him, almost certainly dipping into the Mini-MLE.
The summer has just begun.