The Nets gave it their best in bidding for Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, piling incentive upon incentive in putting together offer sheets for the two shooting guards, not just offering big bucks --$50 million for Johnson and $75 million for Crabbe, but also back-loaded the salary structure, added trade kickers, payment advances, and performance bonuses, etc.
It didn't work, partly because of bad luck --no one expected Dwyane Wade to leave Miami-- and partly because they went up against two billionaire owners who were not willing to give up locally developed talent. Miami had invested a lot of patience in Johnson's development, Portland in Crabbe's
Now, the question is would the Nets go that route again, with its big money packages and that three-day waiting period which give teams time to manipulate their roster? There are a number of restricted free agents out there, mostly bigs, who could be attractive to the Nets. But is the process attractive?
--Dion Waiters. a 6'4" shooting guard. Adrian Wojnarowski, David Aldridge and Brian Lewis all report some level of Nets interest in the Philadelphia native who is both talented and stunningly inconsistent. The Thunder front office has not offered Waiters a new contract, waiting to see what the market is. In all likelihood,Jesus Gomez reports, they will wait to see what kind of deal Waiters can get on the open market, then see if it's in their best interest to match that offer or let him walk. His hometown team considered a short deal and word came back that the Thunder would match.
--Maurice Harkless, a 6'8" forward. Harkless is the last remaining RFA on the Blazers roster after they matched on Crabbe and signed Meyers Leonard. Portland has claimed it would match on the 23-year-old Queens native, but overnight, there was word that he was thinking of accepting a $4.04 million qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent next season ... and giving him the right to veto any trades this season. That would suit the Blazers just fine. But if he secured a deal worth more than $9 million, Portland would be over the tax threshold. Harkless' agent has said he and his client will be patient, which sounds like they're waiting for an offer. How serious would Portland be? He did start for them in the playoffs. One potential issue: Harkless didn't get along well with Jacque Vaughn, the Nets lead assistant, when Vaughn was head coach in Orlando.
--Donatas Motiejunas, a 7'0" power forward. Houston, like OKC with Waiters and Portland with Harkless, seem to be waiting out Motiejunas, who has starter potential if a questionable back. Motiejunas played in only 37 games due to injury last season but in the Rockets first round loss, he looked healthy. He averaged 8.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists and shot 44.4 percent from deep. How bad is the back? Bad enough that Detroit backed out of a three-way trade at the deadline because its medical staff questioned his long term health. And as recently as last month, Motiejunas said his back isn't yet 100 percent, 15 months after surgery The Rockets won't likely let him go, as they can match any offer ... and have some cap space.
--Miles Plumlee, a 7'0" center. Mason's older brother at 27. Milwaukee would like to keep him and it's hard to tell what his market is. He's been seen as Mason-lite, but has the same athleticism if not passing skills. Plumlee didn't play that much last season under Jason Kidd (who started his brother in Brooklyn) but he's only three years removed from a season where he started 79 games and averaged 8 and 8 for the Pacers. Again, Milwaukee wants to see what the market will bear.
--Tyler Zeller, a 7'0" center. The Celtics, given the choice between Zeller and Jared Sullinger this weekend, renounced their rights to Sullinger and decided to keep Zeller. Boston needed to clear one of the two to preserve cap space and make room for Al Horford. The 26-year-old averaged only 6.3 points and three rebounds last season, but has shown flashes in his career. A big favorite of the old regime, Zeller made $2.6 million last season, but has a $6.5 million cap hold.
There are also two other players out there who were restricted free agents until 11 days ago but are now free to sign anywhere: Sullinger, who's a 6'9" power forward, and Terrence Jones, the Rockets 6'9" power forward. Jones has a history of injuries and was arrested for stomping on a homeless man three years ago. He does have a Nets connection. He and Jeremy Lin worked well together in Houston. But he's had no suitors thus far this summer.