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Nets free agency will be position-less, best player available

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NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Think “best player available” when the clock strikes midnight Friday.

With at least $30 million available in the free agency, expect the Nets will be in “talent acquisition” mode, as Sean Marks calls it. With so many holes to fill, Brooklyn will go go for whatever talent is available among both unrestricted free agents and the restricted ones.

Both Marks and Kenny Atkinson talked about the strategy following Monday’s press conference to introduce the team’s big acquisitions so far, 6’5” combo guard D’Angelo Russell and 7’1” center Timofey Mozgov.

“I don’t think we’re in a position right now to be worried about need and position. We can’t,’’ Kenny Atkinson said. “We’re not there yet. It’s still best player available.”

“We’ve never looked at it like we have to have this particular position,” said Marks. “We’re still trying to get best available, talent acquisition. Kenny and the staff have done a great job of fitting guys together.

So it’s going to be matter of who, rather than what, starting Saturday and continuing for two to three weeks until the roster takes shape. The names being bandied about are mostly RFA’s because of the Nets strategy last year. They gave big offer sheets to Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe in July and to Donatas Motiejunas in December, only to see all three get matched.

This year’s crop of RFA’s is well-known to Nets fans: Otto Porter, the 6’8” small forward from Washington: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the 6’5” shooting guard from Detroit; Joe Ingles, the 6’8” small forward from Utah; Kelly Olynyk, the 7’0” power forward from Boston; and Jonathon Simmons, the 6’6” small forward from San Antonio. The first two are likely to command max or near max money, the others at least $10 to $15 million. (Olynyk’s rights may be renounced making him unrestricted.)

“We have an analytic value, we have a scouting value placed on these players and if we feel comfortable with an offer to these players, whether restricted or unrestricted, we'll make those deals,” added Marks. “But we're not going to go chase things.”

There are new CBA rules on restricted free agents. Teams can start extending offer sheets at midnight and instead of 72 hours, as it was last year, the matching period is now only 48 hours but it won’t start until July 6.

There’s also unrestricted free agents J.J. Redick, the 6’4” shooting guard from the Clippers and Rudy Gay, the 6’9” small forward from Sacramento. The Nets did a lot of scouting overseas as well, and we might see a signing there but Milos Teodosic is not on the list. He’s reportedly singing with Chicago. Even before the Lakers trade that brought Russell to Brooklyn, the Nets had soured on giving the 30-year-old big money.

The Nets don’t believe they have a shot at the first rank free agents like Blake Griffin or Gordon Heyward, but think the team’s rising reputation as a player-friendly, development-driven shop should help them get the next level players.

Jeremy Lin recently told Newsday multiple free agents have asked him about joining the Nets — “players that are really good players who are interested in coming,” Lin said.

“They’re going to talk to their peers on other teams and say, ‘This is the way Kenny [Atkinson] coaches, the practices, the performance team, this is the player care that’s given in the Brooklyn Nets model,’” Marks added.

Neither Lin nor Marks provided names.

Also, don’t be surprised if we see some action even before the deadline, as the Nets and other teams try to maximize cap space, perhaps another salary dump or a trade, utilizing their $3.4 million in cash considerations to sweeten an unbalanced trade.

As one insider noted, there are five teams with significant cap space but only one of them is more about building a roster than winning. That would be the Nets. You can do a lot with $30 million in cap space.