Speaking on an ESPN podcast, the network’s Brian Windhorst laid out what NBA GM’s think the Nets strategy will be this summer, that is essentially a replay of last off-season when Sean Marks, fueled by Mikhail Prokhorov’s cash, tried to steal free agents away from other teams. It didn’t work with Portland matching on the Nets $75 million offer to Allen Crabbe and Miami matching on a $50 million offer to Tyler Johnson.
Windhorst, speaking Tuesday, laid out three possibilities who the Nets might pursue: Kantavious Caldwell-Pope of Detroit, Otto Porter of Washington, both restricted free agents ... and George Hill of Utah, who’s unrestricted. It’s the third time Windhorst has mentioned the 30-year-old point guard as a possible Brooklyn target.
On the overall strategy, WIndhorst said it was simple: keep throwing out big offer sheets hoping to scare a player’s current team from matching.
“Anywhere the Nets smell the possibility of not getting their offer matched, they're so desperate to bring in talent, they prefer young talent. but they're going to be a player in that market. They need all kinds of guards.”
Specifically, Windhorst said the Nets are likely to pursue Hill, who’s seen as a solid two-way player and leader. Unlike the other two, there would be no opportunity to match. You sign, you play. The best offer wins the day.
“There is a belief that the Brooklyn Nets might have interest in going there. And even if George Hill isn't interested in playing for the Brooklyn Nets, the Nets could make the offer is what is dangerous part for the Jazz ... and for the Spurs. They can drive the price up.
“The Nets have shown they've put out these two gigantic offer sheets and their cap position is essentially the same. They are going to chase ... they are going to be major players for Kantavious Caldwell-Pope. They are going to go after Otto Porter.“
Asked about why he thinks Hill, who turned down a long-term extensiion from the Jazz around the All-Star Break, could be headed to Brooklyn, he talked about the similarities between Hill and last year’s top targets, Crabbe and Johnson. The key similarity, he argued, was that he switched agents where that can lead.
“So, let me tell you what the executives are talking about. George Hill recently changed agencies and I'm not getting into the intricacies of this. Last year, a player, Allen Crabbe, changed agencies right before free agency and the next thing you know, he had a gigantic offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets. The same agency represents Tyler Johnson in Miami. He got a huge offer sheet from the Brooklyn Nets.”
Windhorst declined to detail the agency Hill has joined. Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas who was also part of the podcast, noted that “Hill’s camp” is “convinced he is getting the max. may have to kick over some rocks.” Hill is believed to be pursuing a Mike Conley-sized max deal, which for him would total $132 million.
Windhorst emphasized the Nets interest in Hill is assumed by NBA GM’s and he has not spoken to the Nets.
“That's one thing that the GMs are chattering about when it comes to George Hill. I dont know what Sean Marks is going to do. Maybe Sean Marks doesn't want an older player like George Hill on his books, but I'm just telling you that I've heard that from more than one GM talking about Brooklyn going after George Hill.”
Hill, who’s averaging 17.4 points and 4.2 assists, is 30.
The new CBA changed some of the rules on restricted free agents, giving the player’s team only two days, rather than three to match, and permits teams to make offers earlier in free agency. However, the front-loaded “poison pill” deals have been eliminated.