clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is "Plan B" going for small contracts now and big cap space later?

Brooklyn Nets/Irina Pavlova

The Nets are moving to "Plan B," Sean Marks said after the Heat and Trail Blazers matched on Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe. He didn't say what "Plan B" entailed, but he said it was in progress.  Since then, the Nets have made two moves, signing two (South American) players, Greivius Vasquez and Luis Scola, to one-year deals.  They still have three roster spots and somewhere north of $20 million in cap space left.

And don't worry about the cap floor. First of all, there's no penalty -- the difference between the floor and the payroll gets distributed among the players on the roster at season's end. Moreover, the final numbers aren't computed until April 15 after the regular season.

So, although no one is saying so, "Plan B" is likely a strategy to conserve cap space for next summer's free agent class.  As Mike Mazzeo writes Tuesday, "Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks' Plan B seems to be adding players on short contracts to maintain salary-cap flexibility moving forward."

The Nets have indeed limited their payroll beyond this season.  Other than rookie deals and Deron Williams' dead money, the Nets will only have Brook Lopez, at $22.64 million; Jeremy Lin at $12 million, Trevor Booker at $9.25 million and Bojan Bogdanovic and Justin Hamilton, each at around $3 million, on the books. The team holds an option on Sean Kilpatrick's $1 million deal.  In the era of $100 million contracts, those are not big deals, literally or figuratively.

A conservative estimate suggests that once the team fills out the final roster --assuming no more RFA offer sheets, Brooklyn could have a little less than $50 million in cap space with a projected cap of $104 million. That's before any transactions during the season that could reduce the payroll even further.

There are a number of (long term) benefits to this strategy:

--The 2017 free agency class is far, far better than this year's Among the names: . Stephen Curry, Chris Paul (PO), Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin (PO), Gordon Hayward (PO), Serge Ibaka, Rudy Gay (PO), Paul Millsap (PO) and Greg Monroe (PO) just to name a few.  There are also solid players like Andre Iguodala, J.J. Redick (a Brooklyn resident), Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo, Jeff Teague, Danilo Gallinari, etc. NO ONE is suggesting the top names are going to be attracted to Brooklyn, but there's real talent there.

--Teams have spent a lot this year on four and five year deals and the number of clubs with big caches of cap space will be smaller than this year, even with the higher cap. That should give those with a lot of space and a committed owner a competitive advantage.Should.

--Other than some of the top free agents, this year's crop did what most pro athletes have done, screamed "Show me the money!" at their agents. Players are going where the big bucks will lead them. Guys like Kevin Durant can afford to put winning above cash because they've already made so much in salary and endorsements.  Most of the NBA's players understand how short their careers can be and want cash.

--Player agents will have a better sense of what kind of GM, what kind of coach and what kind of culture the Nets have. They are, as of yet, untested. A lot of pundits may be praising the Nets change in philosophy --from day-trading to long-term investment, but agents are cold souls. They want to see results or if not results then the promise of competence.  It's a tall order if the team is winning 20 or so games, but the hope is that the culture will show through.

Of course, that means pain --and a lot of it -- in the short term, starting with this season. The roster, while filled with hard-working character guys, is not likely to win a lot of games.  Moreover, if next summer plays out like this one has, it could result in a lot of soul-searching on "Plan B." We know how impatient owners can be.

If the Heat and/or the Blazers hadn't matched, things would be different. It's hard to imagine the Nets going for Vasquez if Johnson was suiting up.  And maybe, there's a surprise out there. That would be nice.

That's not say Marks is to blame. That's for sure.  As he --and ownership rep Irina Pavlova-- have said or tweeted in the last two days, you play with the hand you are dealt.  And increasingly, that hand looks like a tough one. The blame rests elsewhere.

So now, Nets fans have to endure what we're calling "reverse bandwagoning," dozens of pundits and fans of other teams piling on in stories based on some variant of: "the Nets are bad, ha ha ha." We've dealt with worse. At least now, there is a semblance of a plan, whether it's called A, B, or C..