The grades for free agency are starting to dribble in, taking different forms but all offering a look at how the 30 teams did following the NBA Draft. And remember, Chad Ford gave the Nets and Billy King an A- for the Draft, after writing that the Nets should draft a new GM.
Kevin Pelton is not impressed. The ESPN writer likes much of what they did but looking forward, he thinks it's not enough to avoid the lottery.
There's a lot to like about the Nets' offseason. Buying out Williams' contract enabled them to get under the luxury tax, and they did a nice job of targeting young free agents with upside like Larkin and Robinson on the cheap. Still, Brooklyn is left with a 2015-16 team that is unlikely to make the playoffs because of a gaping hole at point guard without Williams. Since the Nets have no protection on their first-round pick, owed to the Celtics from the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade, they won't reap the rewards if they do end up in the lottery. And it's unclear that a core of Lopez and Young will entice free agents to take Brooklyn's max-level cap space next summer.
Mike Moore and Zach Harper at CBS Sports take divergent views, Moore grading them purely on what they did -- and didn't do -- while Harper puts things on a broader spectrum, noting their options were limited...
I should give them a "D" just for bringing in Andrea Bargnani, and that's from a guy who defended him the first five years of his career. But they got rid of Deron Williams' contract, ending that painful marriage, kept Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young (who should have bolted and never looked back). A Joe Johnson trade would have really set them up, but they also didn't need to after trading Williams. Shane Larkin, Steve Blake, Wayne Ellington and Thomas Robinson are all "Sure, whatever" guys that don't raise flags and are affordable. Heck, I'll give them an "A" just for not signing anyone over 30 years old to a five-year max contract. Grade: A
Harper: Over the last couple of years, the Nets have created a no-win situation for themselves with the trades they made and the money they gave out. The situation is virtually untenable for putting a quality product on the court that can build toward being a contender. But since you can't reverse those moves, you have to judge them in this environment. I like the contracts they gave out to Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. I don't mind them taking a risk on Thomas Robinson and Shane Larkin even though I'm not sold on them being real rotation guys. But any decent momentum they tried to build within this bad situation was erased by pretending Andrea Bargnani was worth a flyer for them. Maybe the goal is to catch lightning like they did with Andray Blatche. Grade: D+
Power rankings in July? Kurt Helin of NBC Sports gives it a shot. He thinks the Nets have regressed and puts them at No. 23.
Nets (38-44). They finally got out from under the Deron Williams contract and people around the team say that alone will bring the players closer together. The Nets have a nice front line with Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez, but defense and consistent play out of the guards remain a question mark (no offense intended, Jarrett Jack)
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney graded the individual deals, giving the Nets signing of Thomas Robinson at B+, the highest for a Nets acquisition, and the signing of Andrea Bargnani,a C, their worst grade. Here's a sampling of key Nets moves.
Thomas Robinson - Contract: 2 years, $3 million | Grade: B+
Despite having their hands tied by other salary commitments, the Nets scrounged up a great value for the minimum in Robinson. Any player signed at this amount will come with caveats. Robinson is no exception. Yet most minimum-salary players aren’t nearly so productive (Robinson averaged 13.9 points and 13.7 rebounds per 36 minutes last season) or so athletic, particularly when they’re still so young. Don’t think of Robinson as a former lottery pick. Consider him an able big for a team that needs one and a young player with the potential to easily outperform this contract. — R.M.
Brook Lopez - Contract: 3 years, $60 million | Grade: B-
Lopez carries with him the weight of his injury history—a specter that undoubtedly whittled down his suitors and helped push him into the Nets’ needy arms. Yet when he has been healthy enough to play, Lopez has been one of the few traditional centers able to carry an offense to high efficiency. His compound ability to work in the post and produce out of rolls and cuts to the basket give him real, structural value. The fact that an injury could strike at any moment mitigates it, though not so much as to depress customary value for a scoring seven-footer. It helps, too, that while Lopez is neither the quickest nor the savviest defender, he’s learned to apply his size in ways that could support a viable team defense. The risks associated with Lopez’s health shouldn’t overshadow all that he has to offer.
Andrea Bargnani - Contract: 2 years, veteran minimum | Grade: C
The jokes will be in no short supply, but what’s the real harm here? Brooklyn took a chance on a bottomed-out player who was once regarded highly. So long as expectations and Bargnani’s minutes remain reasonable—as would be suggested by his minimum salary—then this is a marginal deal with marginal upside. The Nets needed playable bigs as it was, and that need has only been exacerbated by Thomas Robinson’s recent knee surgery. Does Bargnani make for ideal rotation filler? Hardly. Could he be occasionally helpful in a small, low-risk role for a mediocre team? Sure.
Bleacher Report gave the Nets a C for the whole off-season, draft included, liking some moves but unlike others thought the Lopez and Young deals problematic.
Dumping Williams is a big deal, as it helps the Nets chip away at what would have been a massive luxury-tax bill. But losing both Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson was different; both were relatively low-cost, useful players. Toss in the dangerous deal for Lopez and Young's above-market payout, and the Nets' offseason looks like a real mixed bag.
An average grade just feels right.