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The Nets and "The Myth of 2016 Free Agency"

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Brooklyn Nets

Bobby Marks, who's become Twitter's capologist after doing the same job for the Nets, penned a piece for Hoopshype this weekend that got a lot of attention. In "The Great Big Myth of 2016 Free Agency,"  Marks' bottom line is that if your team is holding on to a ton of cap space for 2016 free agency, forget it. You've already lost. There isn't enough talent to justify giving out max deals next summer.

Many fans are wide-eyed by the idea of their favorite team having "lots of cap space" for the summer of 2016. After all, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are free agents next year. Yet when you look closer… Beyond these two All-Stars, what is the talent level available?

And there's another underappreciated aspect of the TV rights-inflated jump in cap space next year: teams will need to spend and spend to hit the minimum 90 percent of the salary cap. That "salary floor" could be as high as $81 million, a level that will likely be hit by only a few high paying teams this season, the Cavaliers, Warriors, Clippers, Spurs and Nets.

So, if you haven't bulked up this off-season, you're likely to be overpaying players next summer just to meet that "salary floor."

Teams that spent money either retaining their own free agents or landing a key player this past summer already have an edge going into 2016. For Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio, Miami, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers paying the luxury tax might prove expensive in 2015-16. However, all six teams will bring back the core nucleus of playoff teams next summer – especially with the likelihood of LeBron and Durant staying put with the Cavs and Thunder.

What about the Nets?  Using Marks analysis, they seem to be good in shape. They retained their top two free agents, both still only 27. Ownership and management believe they have a good young core going forward, with Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough, all between the ages of 20 and 27. If any of the other young players acquired this summer work out, all the better, they say.

It sounds counter-intuitive. A lot of fans wanted Lopez and Young to opt in this summer. Marks' analysis suggests that could have been dangerous over the long haul. If they had opted in, the Nets could have been in terrible shape. They would have gone into next summer with $50- to $55 million in cap space... with no guarantee they'd be able to sign Lopez and Young .... and not enough value on the market.  If they had struck out on top targets, they would have had to overpay for what's left, putting them into another hole down the road, when more and better talent will become available.

The free agent class of 2016 may end up being known as the summer of inflation. What no one is really talking about yet but should be is the class of the summer of 2017. That’s when the free agent class really overflows with talent. Stephen Curry, Chris Paul (PO), Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin (PO), Gordon Hayward (PO), Serge Ibaka, Rudy Gay (PO), Paul Millsap (PO) and Monroe (PO) just to name a few.
Billy King has said that the smart way to approach next summer is to pursue a couple of very good young players rather than a superstar like Durant.  Who should be the Nets targets?. A point guard? A swing man? Maybe Mike Conley Jr. maybe Demar DeRozan.  Things drop off after that.

The Nets have some time to play with on their own free agents. Lopez and Young are locked up for at least three years each.  The rookies have four years. Of the current group, only Bogdanovic will be a free agent at any point in the next two years.