When we’re talking about whether or not buying draft picks is the route an organization should take to improve, it means we still have a long way to go…as Alex Kennedy tweeted the other day.
It isn’t the sexiest way to turn your franchise around, but purchasing picks is something plenty of NBA teams have done in recent years. The Nets have done it in all but one year since 2011. Here are the details...
-- 2011: Purchased rights the of 31st pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves for $1.3 million (Bojan Bogdanovic). The Nets also included a 2014 second rounder in that deal. More on that later.
-- 2012: Purchased rights of 42nd pick from the Trail Blazers for $2 million (Tyshawn Taylor). Purchased rights of 54th pick from 76ers for $750,000 (Toko Shengelia). Both were traded;both are out of the league.
-- 2014: Purchased rights of 44th pick from the Timberwolves for $1.1 million (Markel Brown). This is the same pick the Nets had sent to Minnesota for Bogdanovic. Purchased rights of 59th pick from the Toronto Raptors for $500,000 (Xavier Thames). Purchased rights of 60th pick from the 76ers for $300,000 (Cory Jefferson).
--2015: Purchased rights of 39th pick from the Charlotte Hornets for $880,000 (Juan Pablo Vaulet). The Nets also sent two second round picks in 2018 and 2020 respectively, in the deal. (And no, Vaulet is unlikely to be on the Nets roster next season). That the Nets had to send two picks plus a hefty cash payment shows how the value of even second round picks have jumped.
There's no set scale to tell a team what it should pay for a draft pick. It's all negotiation, what the market will bear. The price can range anywhere from a high six-figure sum to something along the lines of $3 million, which is what the Atlanta Hawks received for the rights to the 31st pick in the 2010 draft, Tibor Pleiss. That's currently the record. That 31st pick, for the record, was a Nets draft selection. The Nets sent it to Atlanta in the deal for Damian James. The Hawks sold it to the Thunder. The 7-foot- 3 center didn’t play in an NBA game until 2015-16 where he posted a whopping 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds per contest in 12 games for the Utah Jazz.
Of course, you could potentially land a Jordan Clarkson at No. 46 for $1.8 million as the Lakers did in 2014. That would be an ideal situation for the guard-needy Nets. It is also possible --but unlikely-- for the Nets to buy into the first round. It hasn’t been done since 2009, however, when the Knicks paid the Los Angeles Lakers $3 million for Toney Douglas.
One reason is that as part of the 2011 CBA, the NBA implemented a rule limiting how much money could be spent on any transaction, whether it be a draft rights purchase or a sweetener for a big trade. That number currently sits at $3.4 million. (One reason for the new rule was smaller market owners feared that owners like Mikhail Prokhorov and James Dolan would spend their fortunes in big deals. Dolan paid out $6 million to acquire Carmelo Anthony. Prokhorov paid out $3 million in the Yi Jianlian salary dump; $3 million to facilitate the Deron Williams trade, both in 2011.)
The other big reason for the higher price tag is that rookie contracts are more of a bargain with the new salary cap jumping to $92 million or more this summer and maybe as high as $107 million in 2017. For example, only the top four players in the 2015 draft made $3.4 million or more last season, with the tenth pick (Justice Winslow) banking a little more than $2.1 million. Whoever gets picked at No. 10 this season is scheduled to hit close to $2.2 million in 2016-17. That's less than three percent of the salary cap. If the pick is a rotation player, that's a bargain.
Translation; it’s very difficult to buy a late first-rounder.
The Nets could also explore trade options. They could combine cash with their 55th pick to move up or they could send a player out for a first- round pick. But the Nets don’t exactly have a lot to offer. Of the current players on the Nets roster, only Bojan Bogdanovic stands as a premier asset. He's someone who makes $3.6 million ... or the Nets could just keep Bogdanovic because most late first/ early second round choices won’t average 10.1 points on 44.2% shooting and 37% from three in their first two NBA seasons if they even last two NBA seasons. Not to mention that the Nets sent assistant coach Chris Fleming to meet with Bogdanovic last week.
What about Jarrett Jack's deal? He's owed $6.3 million next year, but if he's waived by June 30, he's only guaranteed $500,000. Couldn't he be sent to a team to drop its payroll? That might have worked in the past but with virtually every team having huge cap space the next day, it's not likely.
There’s also a near $1.4 million trade exception from the previous Mason Plumlee deal that expires on June 27, and another for $2.2 million which expires in July. Both could be utilized on draft night.
While discussing picks can be interesting and exciting ... since we’re all enamored by the unknown, you may wonder that amid all of the trade talk who the Nets could acquire if they do buy an earlier second or potentially late first-round choice.
"We will always buy picks," one member of ownership told NetsDaily, but a high second rounder seems unlikely as well without a player going out. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express recently predicted that an early second round pick in this year's draft could cost the full $3.4 million.
So who in this second round is worth $3.4 million?
There are some players who the Nets have or will work out who would be available in the mid-40's to 50's, players like Dorian Finney-Smith of Florida, Kay Felder of Oakland, Michael Gbinije of Syracuse, Cat Barber of North Carolina State and of course, Isaiah Whitehead of Seton Hall. The Nets likely won’t have to move up far (if at all) and could spent a portion of that $3.4 million. Some may go undrafted.
One player who the Nets recently had in for a workout and who could fit in the definition of a player worth Mikhail Prokhorov's cash is 6'5" athletic guard Isaia Cordinier of France, who Draft Express has at the 39th pick.
Stephen Zimmerman, a 7-foot one-and- done center from UNLV is another player who the Nets have looked at in the pre-draft process. Zimmerman is mocked as the 36th draft choice on Draft Express and the 24th selection on nbadraft.net.
Other players who could be in play for a purchase earlier in the draft include:
--PF Chieck Diallo (19th on Draft Express and 18th on nbadraft.net)
--SG Malik Beasley (32nd on Draft Express and 19th on nbadraft.net)
--SG Malachi Richardson (33rd on Draft Express and 14th on nbadraft.net)
--PG Tyler Ulis (24th on Draft Express and 36th on nbadraft.net)
--C Zhou Qi (31st on Draft Express and 43rd on nbadraft.net)
--PF Thon Maker (34th on Draft Express and 27th on nbadraft.net)
We're not sure that Diallo, Beasley and Richardson have worked out with the Nets, but they're of interest. The Chinese-native Qi will remind NBA fans of our old friend Yi Jianlian for obvious reasons, and Maker, a guard in a center’s body, is listed as a 7-foot- 1, 220-pound power forward, which means he is not ‘big man,’ he is ‘tall man,’ (credit to Bomani Jones).
Buying picks won't be easy and there is a risk --only two of the seven purchased picks are currently on the Nets roster.but with only the 55th pick, they don't have much of a choice. We’ll see what actually goes down on the 23rd