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Trade Grades: Nets get high marks for Wizards deal

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NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The value of any trade is subject to change. Anyone who claims to know how a deal will work out on the day it’s made is a fool.

That said, the initial grades of the Nets deal with Washington think that, as of now, the Nets did very well.

Putting aside the numerical grades for a moment, here’s what Chris Mannix and Adrian Wojnarowski said of the deal’s most important effect, giving the Nets new credibility.

Mannix: “Brooklyn is functional. Sean Marks has a plan. Kenny Atkinson is a good coach.

“You talk to players and agents about going to Brooklyn. What's the mindset there? The Nets are not winning but are they willing to sent clients there.”

Woj: “Yeah, they are. It's New York too. It's a big market. I talked to some players who will be free agents this summer and the question they ask themselves is they like the organization. They have respect for Sean Marks coming from the San Antonio system and certainly Kenny Atkinson. You know players. His reputation around the league is someone who gets players better.”

And as promised, here are the numerical grades...

Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider gave the Nets a B+ and the Wizards a C. His logic on the Nets grade...

Moving Bogdanovic at the deadline was smart. Because he came to the NBA at age 25, Bogdanovic will turn 28 in April and a new contract for him as a restricted free agent would have taken him through the decline phase of his career. That made little sense for a team deep in the throes of rebuilding.

With its own pick headed to the Boston Celtics (albeit in a swap instead of directly this year), Brooklyn needs all the first-rounders it can get. To add another one, the Nets do have to take on Nicholson's contract, which shouldn't be all that painful.

Nicholson is making less than the new non-taxpayer mid-level exception, so there's a chance he could actually provide equivalent value for his salary. Surely Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson will encourage Nicholson to let it fly from 3-point range. He made 41 triples at a 36.0 percent clip last season with the Orlando Magic, and though he's probably not quite that effective (he's a 32.7 percent career 3-point shooter), it's hard to read anything into the 3-of-16 Nicholson shot on 3s in Washington. That slump to start the season was a big factor in Nicholson losing his spot in the rotation.

At worst, the Nets probably weren't going to do much with the extra cap space. They'll still surely have enough room to make a max offer to a player with 7-9 years of experience. And since McCullough wasn't part of the team's plans, Brooklyn probably viewed including him in the trade as a benefit and not a cost.

Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post called the Nets piece of the trade an A-; the Wizards a B+.

As for Brooklyn, the Nets did exactly what they should be doing: using their cap space to take on bad contracts in exchange for draft assets. Washington’s pick is likely to be in the 20s (currently it would be 24th), but the Nets need to pick up as many assets as they can moving forward, and this is a good way of doing it. Nicholson didn’t work out at all in Washington, but is a big who can stretch the floor – something Nets Coach Kenny Atkinson values. The Nets have every reason to play him and see if he can recover his value. Either way, getting another first rounder in a good draft is reason alone to praise this deal for Brooklyn.

Keith Smith of RealGM gave the Nets a B; the Wizards a B+

The Nets had made it clear as far back as a month ago that they were shopping both Bogdanovic and Brook Lopez, along with most of their other veterans. Sean Marks and Trajan Langdon, who lead Brooklyn’s front office, see the picks the Nets owe to Boston as a sunk cost and have made it a priority to recoup assets for players who don’t fit their rebuilding timeline.

Brooklyn moved off their stated desire of two first round picks for Lopez, now asking for one first and a second, but had insisted on getting a first round pick for Bogdanovic. Mission accomplished for the Nets. They also picked up Nicholson and Thornton in the trade, which is solid work for a free agent to be and a young player who is caught in a numbers crunch.

Thornton is unlikely to have much, if any, impact for the Nets and could be a buyout candidate, as Brooklyn is stocked at the guard position. But Nicholson could step in and provide immediate help at the power forward position. In recent weeks, Brooklyn had turned to starting Bogdanovic and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the forward spots, as a way to get two of their better players on the floor together. Nicholson could take over the starting power forward spot or could back up Trevor Booker, the previous starter at the four. Nicholson’s ability to rebound and stretch the floor fits what Brooklyn is asking of their big men and his contract isn’t onerous for a team that is in the middle of a multiple season rebuild.

More importantly this trade brings some balance to the Nets lineups and frees up minutes for young players who need them. As previously mentioned, Brooklyn had been playing two natural threes at the forward spot. Bogdanovic being out frees up the starting small forward position for Hollis-Jefferson, who the Nets are very high on. It also opens the door for Caris LeVert, this year’s first round draft pick, to play more minutes. That is key as Brooklyn is hoping LeVert will develop into a 15-20 PPG scorer over time.

At the 2016 NBA Draft, Marks turned Thaddeus Young into the first round pick the Nets used on LeVert and now he’s turned Bogdanovic in to another first. Being willing to move on from the disastrous trade his predecessor made with the Celtics and not worrying about those picks is huge for the franchise to move forward. All too often, teams will make a bad move on top of another bad move, all while chasing after ghosts. Admitting defeat on that move, as Marks has done, has Brooklyn in good shape moving forward.

Gerald Bourguet of FanSided agreed with Bontemps giving the Nets an A-. he also gave the Wizards the same grade.

When general manager Sean Marks dealt Thaddeus Young for a late first round pick that turned into Caris LeVert last year, many Nets fans felt a sense of relief that he understood what needed to be done to get Brooklyn back on track. This trade should only reaffirm that optimism.

True enough, the overall outlook is still pretty gloomy for the Nets. They have the worst record in the league by a mile, and they’ll likely be surrendering the No. 1 overall pick to the Boston Celtics this summer thanks to a disastrous trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013 that depleted the Nets’ cupboard of assets.

Brooklyn also owes Boston its 2018 first-rounder, which is why it’s paramount for Marks to continue cleaning up the mistakes of his predecessor by adding whatever first-rounders he can scrounge up. Turning Bogdanovic into a first round pick — even one that’s currently slated to be No. 24 in this year’s draft — is a victory.

Giving up a 22-year-old with potential like McCullough hurts, but the Nets needed a sweetener in this deal to justify getting a first-rounder for the bench player he’ll be in Washington. McCullough might have been a lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft if not for his ACL tear, but his recovery and adjustment to the NBA level has been slow-going.

There’s still potential there, but it’s unclear if he’ll ever reach his ceiling. He’s only played in 14 games this season, averaging 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in a meager 5.1 minutes per game.

As for Andrew Nicholson, he’s a 27-year-old power forward averaging just 2.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game this season. It’s safe to say he failed to live up to the bloated four-year, $26 million contract Washington signed him to last summer.

However, as much as taking on the two years and $13 million left on his salary (plus a $6.9 million player option for 2019-20) is less than ideal, Brooklyn is a team that can afford to take on that kind of unwanted contract. They can give him a go, and if he doesn’t pan out, the Nets can always stretch him.

The Nets had to give up on McCullough’s potential and they’ll have to take on Nicholson’s ugly contract, but they somehow turned an upcoming restricted free agent like Bogdanovic into a first round pick — something very few people saw coming.

This will allow them to either package their two first-rounders (Boston’s pick currently at No. 26 and Washington’s pick currently at No. 24) to move up in the draft, or take two late stabs at unearthing a diamond in the rough.

Nick Agar-Johnson of Hashtag Basketball gave the Nets their lowest grade, a B, and was the only pundit to give the Wizards a better grade.

The Nets managed to get a first-round pick in return for Bogdanovic, so the trade seems like a major victory. Bojan will enter restricted free agency at the end of this season, his third in the NBA, but he will turn 28 before the end of this season and was more than likely not a part of their future plans. This year's squad will certainly miss his scoring touch and incredible range, but this trade was entirely about trading current value for future value through the draft. The pick will likely be in the mid-20's, where the Nets have drafted Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in recent years.

Chris McCullough only played 72 minutes this year after starting some games down the stretch of last season. This trade might have earned a grade in the A-range without throwing McCullough in, but he is still just 22 and showed signs of being a really valuable player last year. Still, his inability to crack the Nets' rotation this year was troubling. Anyone who cannot earn minutes over Anthony Bennett might not be much of a prospect. Giving up McCullough is certainly not a dealbreaker, but it is concerning that Brooklyn gave up on him this quickly.

Andrew Nicholson is an interesting piece who was unable to secure playing time in Washington. He is theoretically a stretch-4 who had a great outside shot in college but has shot just 32.7% from deep in his NBA career. He might thrive with more playing time in Brooklyn but has been a disappointment this season. Marcus Thornton will be waived upon the completion of the trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.