With Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young returning next season, the Nets payroll could be somewhere around the $100 million dollar range for a team that, largely thanks to the ineptitude of the Eastern Conference, just barely snaked its way into the playoffs.
With the luxury and repeater taxes, that would mean a total bill approaching $135 million, with no guarantee of the post-season. That would be higher than this year's tax bill.
While continuing to shop the bloated contracts of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, the Nets have also looked to other, less obvious ways of cutting costs. Until Draft Night, every move the Nets made for a year resulted in the team cutting payroll, as Stefan Bondy has reported.
Of course, there's a bit of a dichotomy at work here. While shelling out big bucks in contracts (nearly $120 million in the last week) and for things like a new training center in Industry City ($45 million) and a soon-to-announced D-League team in Brooklyn ($6 million), the team is cutting back on staff and staff salaries, according to league sources.
While some call it cost-cutting, others have spun it as "cleaning house" or "fiscal responsibility." it's mainly about avoiding the huge losses the team has suffered while in Brooklyn, as much as $144 million a year.
The "economies" include the mundane as well as the crucial.
One of the more low key, and at the same time, biggest, losses of the offseason was that of assistant coach John Welch, who signed with the Sacramento Kings in May. He served under Jason Kidd and remained on staff when Lionel Hollins took over last season, the only Kidd staffer other than Jim Sann who did.
While the loss of an assistant coach doesn't seem like much, one source told NetsDaily that the departure of Welch is a "huge loss." Welch helped run the offense for both Kidd and Hollins, and he was also big in player development. For a team that can be, at times, offensively lethargic and with a roster full of young, but still raw, talent, losing a coach like Welch could be a bigger deal than one would think. Welch worked with George Karl in Denver and it would have been tough keeping him, but he's gone.
Welch will be replaced by Jay Humphries, who is running the team's summer league entries in Orlando and Las Vegas. He, too, is likely to be replaced internally.
Another noticeable loss behind the scenes was that of assistant GM Bobby Marks. Starting as a PR intern 20 years ago, Marks had only one employer his working life. Then, Brooklyn declined to pick up his option in May. On top of being one of the better capologists in the league, Marks was also instrumental in engineering trades. Marks was one of two assistant GMs who served under Billy King, the other Frank Zanin, and the feeling was that two assistant GMs would be unnecessary luxury ... particularly with a lack of cap space and draft picks.
Dr. Jeremy Bettle, another respected member of the staff, recently signed with the Toronto Maple Leaves. They'll need to find a replacement for him soon, with all that training equipment about to be moved from New Jersey to the brand new, $45 million HSS Center in Brooklyn. Luckily for the Nets, they still have Tim Walsh.
There have been other cuts as well in social media and team marketing, areas where the team has excelled.
The Nets still could move Williams and Johnson to clear more cap space but if they don't, it's clear the Nets are dedicated cutting costs anywhere they can. It's not just the luxury and repeater taxes that they want to avoid. It's the staggering losses the team has accumulated. The people who have been cut may not necessarily be well known, but were certainly important and it will be interesting to see how Brooklyn fares with these cuts.