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Zach Lowe goes inside the rebuild — Will it work?

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Marks, Prokhorov Razumov

If you’re looking for evidence of a quick fix for the Nets, you won’t find it in Zach Lowe’s fine report on the Nets rebuild. But if you’re looking for a detailed argument for why it could work eventually —no guarantees, this is the story to read.

Lowe talked to virtually everyone involved in the Nets basketball operations and executive staffs, coming to the conclusion that patience remains the watchword along with culture.

Calling last year’s Nets “perhaps the happiest, tightest-woven terrible team ever,” Lowe doesn’t gloss over how bad things were when Sean Marks took ... and how despite it all, nothing is guaranteed. In fact, he notes, “It might take at least a half-decade to crack .500 that way, and years longer to reach 50 wins -- if the Nets get there without bottoming out again.”

He devotes a lot of time to what the Nets do with first round pick in 2019, the first they will control since 2013. Should they tank???

They should win a little more over the next two seasons, right in time for the 2019 draft, when they finally own their pick. They have discussed tanking ahead of that draft to land the blue-chip centerpiece they lack. "It came up," Atkinson said. "There is a faction out there that thinks it is what we should do..."

“I don't think it is in the cards to tank," Marks said. "The goal is to compete and win games." If their youth doesn't develop, they may end up tanking in 2019 by semi-accident. They just won't reverse course to engineer it.

"I don't think tanking helps us," (Nets chairman Dmitry) Razumov said.

Lowe also got Prokhorov’s No. 2 to discuss patience.

"We are ready to be patient," said Razumov. "We went the other way, and failed miserably." Ownership would accept a 25-win season in 2017-18, Razumov added.

"That would be fine," Razumov said, "if the young guys make progress."

Will “the young guys” make progress? Lowe thinks the trade for D’Angelo Russell was a good move.

Betting on Russell was a no-brainer. He has a chance to be a star on offense. He should be able to hit 3-pointers off the dribble, crucial for drawing double-teams on the pick-and-roll that unlock everything else, and he reads the floor well. He has good size and insists he will defend better.

"I wanted to play defense in L.A.," Russell said, "but I felt like I had to score every chance I got for us to be relevant."

He’s not so sure about Allen Crabbe, in part because the Nets reduced their options now and long term in adding Crabbe’s huge contract.

The Nets offloaded Andrew Nicholson's $6 million-a-year contract, leading some to crow they had turned Crabbe into a $12 million player. The costs go deeper. The Nets could have held their space for an inevitable dump-deal that would have brought in another first-round pick. They likely could have sent out Nicholson in that same deal, or stretched his remaining salary over seven seasons -- as Portland is doing.

They could have signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a one-year deal instead of tying up cap space on Crabbe through 2020. Depending on what happens with Lin and other free agents, the Nets may be out of the salary-dump game until then.

Then, there’s the element of luck. It’s needed, too, argues Lowe.

For that path to lead anywhere beyond mediocrity without a tanking detour, one of Marks' long-shot bets must pay off. A castoff like Spencer Dinwiddie must become their Danny Green. A pick in the 20s has to pop.

There’s a lot more here, like why the Nets decided against going for Nerlens Noel last season and what was the last minute addition to the 2013 Boston trade (prepare for gnashing of teeth), what bodily fluid the performance team monitors, and Duran Duran helped the Nets seal the deal with Kenny Atkinson.

A great read.