When Billy King signed Shane Larkin, Thomas Robinson, Wayne Ellington and Andrea Bargnani last summer, they were seen as limited risks. None would make more than $1.5 million this season. But now, halfway through the season, the group has not played well, or at least consistently.
Those contracts may not be as low risk as originally thought. Each is a guaranteed two-year deal with the second year a player option. So, if the players don't believe they will make more money by opting out, the Nets will owe them a total of $5.7 million --and four roster spots, a quarter of the team. For a team in rebuild mode, with a premium on cap space, that could hurt.
Of the four, Bargnani and Ellington are having their worst season statistically, with Bargnani likely to average less than double figures for the first time in his career and Ellington, sold as a three-point specialist, shooting barely 31 percent overall ... and 18.2 percent since being inserted in the starting lineup seven games ago.
Robinson, notorious for his inconsistency, is displaying that same lack of stability this season. His numbers are all down from last year in Philly and only his shooting percentage is above career lows. Larkin has had some bright spots, but other than his "revenge" game success vs. the Knicks, he hasn't made fans forget Jarrett Jack.
It's a long way from now until the end of the season --half the season-- and a lot can happen, particularly if the two youngsters --the 23-year-old Larkin and the 24-year-old Robinson-- do better. Robinson at the vets minimum is a good deal for an end of the bench guy. And Larkin as a second or third string guard does makes sense.
But it the four don't improve and decide there isn't going to be a better deal out there for them --here or overseas-- that's deadweight to carry into next season. Whoever is GM will have to deal with that.