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How long a rebuild? With no quick fix sought or anticipated, think 2021

New Orleans Pelicans v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Want to know how long the Nets rebuilding plan will take? Look at the Bojan Bogdanovic trade.

The Nets knew they had an NBA talent in the soon-to-turn 28-year-old but they also knew they’d have to give him a four or five-year deal worth eight figures next June. So rather than deal with restricted free agency, they dumped the 6’8” shooting guard along with a prospect and took on what looks like a bad contract just to acquire a pick late in the first round who will be paid $6 million or so over the next four.

It wasn’t so much about money but a belief that deemed 28-year olds, no matter how talented, as superfluous during a long-term rebuild and the draft pick as a building block. There were other reasons, like giving Caris LeVert more time on the court and giving Sean Marks a lot more flexibility come Draft Night. Two first rounders will do that. But the bottom line is the rebuild is looking like a four or five-year plan.

Tim Bontemps, writing in the Washington Post Monday, basically agrees. He believes absent a stroke of luck, the Nets rebuild will be long, four or five years long ... “a dismal present and a dim future.” He doesn’t expect the Nets to make the playoffs during that time.

There’s no doubt Bontemps likes what Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson are doing, but he thinks the burden they have to overcome is huge, thinks there’s little they can do to move the needle until they get their own draft pick back in 2019.

“They won’t even have their first rounder next season,” Bontemps writes. “That makes it hard for the Nets to truly begin a long-term rebuild until 2019, when they finally have control of their picks again.”

Sure, they could get lucky and pick up a free agent or two, but Bontemps sees that as unlikely. Moreover, decisions are driven by “the methodical approach being implemented by General Manager Sean Marks and Coach Kenny Atkinson ... no quick fix.”

So, he estimates “the timeline for being competitive for a playoff spot more in the range of, say, 2021 — making the Nets the NBA’s equivalent of a desert without an oasis for the next several seasons.”


Bontemps also believes that it’s likely only one player on the current roster, Caris LeVert, will be around when the rebuild bears fruit in four or five years. He notes that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was offered around at the trade deadline and expresses doubt about Isaiah Whitehead’s future as even a back-up point guard.

Short term, he thinks the Nets should finally pull the trigger on trading Brook Lopez and even consider dealing Jeremy Lin, who will be stuck in the rebuild.

Beyond that, he believes what the Nets did with Bogdanovic should be their template: taking on bad contracts, like Andrew Nicholson’s, in return for draft picks, suggesting “it’s a no-brainer: they have to do it.”

All this and a blizzard, too!