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Hollis-Jefferson’s future is one of Marks many decisions

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Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

So what about Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ... as a trade asset?

Last week, we wrote about ESPN’s Kevin Pelton suggesting that the Brooklyn Nets should sell high on Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. There’s always speculation about Harris.

Hollis-Jefferson is another name that has popped up in trade speculation, and some rumors, in the past. His elevated play, along with his youth (turned 23 earlier this month), has a lot to do with that.

It’s certainly not something he wants.

“The way our organization is developing and wants us to grow, man it’s a good feeling. I’m proud to be a part of it,” he said earlier this month.

But like others in trade rumors, Hollis-Jefferson’s development has made him a more than solid player ... and a bargain as well. Other than Isaiah Whitehead and the Nets two two-way players, RHJ has the smallest salary on the roster, $1.47 million. Even rookie Jarrett Allen makes more, about $250,000 more.

Most importantly, Hollis-Jefferson is undoubtedly one of the league’s most improved players in 2017-18. His scoring has jumped from 8.7 to 14.7 points per game, his rebounding up to 6.6 (7.8 per contest in 16 games since December 20), and on many nights, he’s been the Nets’ best player on both ends of the floor.

Naturally, NBA teams inquired about The Hyphen last season, before his uptick. It’s almost trade deadline time, so surely his name will float through discussions once again in February.

Given his jump in productivity, role, and significance, there’s reason to believe that the Nets could potentially cash in on Hollis-Jefferson’s improvement this season, just as they might with Harris and Dinwiddie.

Financially, Hollis-Jefferson comes as a bargain, being that the 2015 NBA first round draft choice is still on his rookie wage scale contract, and the Nets have already picked up his $2.5 million option for next season. So they won’t have to make a decision on his next paycheck for a year, just like D’Angelo Russell.

Hollis-Jefferson will likely make a LOT of money on the free agent market, assuming he continues to produce at this rate ... particularly with his deep shooting.

As far as we know, there’s nothing imminent surrounding Hollis-Jefferson’s name that we know of. Things could be quiet, for now, or the Nets could be secretive, like we’ve known them to be.

Whether or not Sean Marks should deal Hollis-Jefferson, potentially “cashing out” is up for debate.

As Howard Beck of Bleacher Report told us on the Ain’t Hard To Tell Podcast, trading someone like RHJ or Harris or Dinwiddie has cultural implications for the organization.

“So you’ve got guys now with value that contenders could use, that playoff teams could use. But those guys are also the epitome of your culture now. That would be painful, very painful for them as an organization.”

On one hand, you’ve seen this developmental process work, and if it continues, possibly even hitting another gear (which, considering his improvement this year, is more than feasible), shouldn’t you retain him?

So, say he does improve. He’ll no longer be at a bargain rate. As meticulous as Marks is, there’s reason to believe that in the summer of 2019, he’ll have put together a number for Hollis-Jefferson in his mind —for argument’s sake, let’s say $56 million for four years— and a decision to make. What happens if another team swoops in and offers to “overpay” him. How high would the Nets go?

Of course, that’s also an argument for not trading him now. There’s no rush. That decision can wait a year. Or wait until the NBA Draft if that’s what the Nets want.

Moreover, what would Hollis-Jefferson’s return be? He is valuable to the Nets. That’s for sure, but he may not be as valuable to another team. He plays the 4 for the Nets and well, but how many teams are going to use him in that role? As a wing, he has certain skills, but deep shooting is not one of them.

But, let’s say Marks is willing to trade him in the next few weeks? What or who is coming back? Marks has shown that he loves acquiring assets in the mold of young players and picks. In eight trades since he’s taken over, Marks has acquired seven draft picks: three firsts and four seconds, as well four high lottery picks from the 2014 and 2015 drafts.

In fact, on Saturday night, Marc Berman of the Post reported the Knicks are interested in RHJ.

One NBA source said the Knicks inquired about the Nets’ 23-year-old defensive forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but Brooklyn asked for a first-rounder. That the Knicks’ pick is looking more like a lottery selection makes it virtually untouchable.

Why not? Hollis-Jefferson would arguably be a lottery pick, or damn close, in a hypothetical 2015 re-draft.

Do you still press the reset button to get four years of another prospect, confident in your system, your development methods and habits ... or see how RHJ works out over the next season and a half?

Bottom line? Is Hollis-Jefferson a talent you build around? Is there more to his game and what he can become? Is this season fool’s gold? These are all questions Brooklyn has to answer for him, and others, as February 8 approaches, assuming they haven’t already.