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David Aldridge: “Reasonable Gambles,” Development keys to solid off-season

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets-Press Conference Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The off-season may not be quite over, either for the NBA or the Nets. The Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving situations have yet to be resolved and Brooklyn could still use a big man.

That said, David Aldridge is out with his rankings of each team’s off-season —draft, free agency, trades— and he has the Nets in the middle of the pack at No. 16.

Not bad considering what they started with, the league’s worst record and where he ranked them a year ago, when he had them at No. 30 following restricted free agency failings.

The TNT reporter notes the Nets made “reasonsable gambles” across the board and are gaining a reputation for player development.

Aldridge is quick to point out this is NOT a predictor of how each team will do this season.

Here ya go...

ADDED: G D'Angelo Russell (acquired from Lakers); C Timofey Mozgov (acquired from Lakers); F Allen Crabbe (acquired from Portland); F DeMarre Carroll (acquired from Toronto); C Jarret Allen (No. 22 pick, 2017 Draft)

LOST: C Brook Lopez (traded to Lakers); C Justin Hamilton (traded to Toronto); F Andrew Nicholson (traded to Portland); G Archie Goodwin (waived); F K.J. McDaniels (renounced RFA rights)

RETAINED: None

THE KEY MEN: Assistant coaches and player development coaches Jacque Vaughn, Chris Fleming, Bret Brielmaier, Adam Harrington, Jordan Ott, Matt Batiste and Travon Bryant. The Nets will get better the way the Hawks and Spurs get better -- through outstanding player development with their assistants. It’s what coach Kenny Atkinson did in Atlanta and it’s already paying dividends with the Nets, where young guys like Caris LeVert have gotten better quickly.

THE SKINNY: The Nets took reasonable gambles to improve their talent level -- moving their best player in Lopez and taking on the last three years of Mozgov’s huge contract to get a look at Russell, the second pick in the Draft just a couple of years ago, while also taking on the bulk of the $75 million deal they gave Crabbe just last summer via offer sheet. They used the first they got from the Wizards in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal on Allen, who could be a terrific rim runner/shot blocker in the Clint Capela mold. Taking on all that salary (including Carroll’s remaining $30 million) eats up a little of Brooklyn’s future cap flexibility, but no one was coming there via free agency, anyway. So why not win a few more games this coming season, endure the last of the disastrous trade with the Celtics (one more first-rounder goes to Boston in 2018) and see if Russell becomes the talent the Lakers hoped he’d be?

Who had the best off-season? The Warriors. Continuity matters. And the worst? The Pacers. That’s also good for the Nets who have the Pacers second round pick if Indiana doesn’t make the playoffs. The two teams with unresolved issues, the Knicks and Cavaliers, rank 24th and 28th respectively.