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Keith Smith: Nets a top free agent destination this summer

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Brooklyn Nets

In a survey of which NBA teams are the most likely to spend money this summer — and succeed at improving their team— Yahoo! Sports suggests the Nets will have a number of advantages over its rivals. In short, Keith Smith suggests the Nets have advantages and after recovering from the 2013 Celtics trade are now, more or less a normal team.

Smith writes...

“It’s been a long time coming, but the Nets have finally dug out from under the rubble of their disastrous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics. They own all of their own first-round picks now and they’ve managed to add some intriguing young talent despite being without lottery picks for several years. Brooklyn is led by a progressive front office that refused to make excuses and just kept pushing the message of moving forward. And head coach Kenny Atkinson has consistently drawn praise for how hard his teams play and how well-prepared they are.”

In fact, he notes that the Nets are already high on free agents’ list of destinations...

“Brooklyn is pretty high on the list of places players like to be. It’s still New York. And the Nets have one of the best arena-and-practice-facility combinations in the NBA.

GM Sean Marks will get meetings with top free agents Durant and Butler, and maybe even Leonard.”

Absent success with top-of-the-line free agents, Smith thinks the next tier is where the Nets can “really clean up,” players like Khris Middleton, Nikola Mirotic, Terry Rozier, Bobby Portis or Willie Cauley-Stein. Expect Marks to use an well-worn tool, offer sheets, on those players, all restricted agents. Of course, those players’ team can simply match, but there’s ample evidence, from this month’s podcast with Woj, that Marks is not likely to be deterred if the opportunity arises.

“Because the cost would be lower, it could allow the Nets to add two players. Rozier, Portis and Cauley-Stein are all restricted free agents, which would allow Marks to take part in one of his favorite pastimes: crafting an offer sheet that either gets him the player he wants or clogs an opposing team’s cap sheet.”

Other than the market and the brick-and-mortar enticements of Barclays Center and HSS Training Center —and an estimated $51.2 million projected cap space— Smith points to a pool of young and “fun” players already on the Nets roster.

Brooklyn also returns some fun young players. Caris LeVert’s recent injury was scary, but it also showed how much respect he’s already earned around the NBA, as several players chimed in to wish the blossoming wing well in his recovery. Add rapidly improving young center Jarrett Allen and shooters Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris to the mix, and you’ve got a team free agents wouldn’t mind joining.

Recruiting free agents, of course, is expensive, might even mean a return to luxury tax payments for ownership. But Marks has said on several occasions that Mikhail Prokhorov and Joe Tsai are ready to invest.