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Why the Nets Should Trade for Fultz

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Making the case for why the Nets are the perfect team to trade for Markelle Fultz

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

As much as culture is the word most attached to the Brooklyn Nets under Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson, development is the second most buzzed-word (only because practice facility are two words). Atkinson was hired specifically because of his ability to help players grow, as Marks said in the press release announcing Aktinson’s hire:

“We believe that Kenny’s core principles, leadership, communication skills and exceptional background in player development make him an ideal fit for the culture we are building in Brooklyn.”

Marks has continued to point out Atkinson’s ability to develop players as the overriding positive of having Kenny be his coach. The true successes of the Marks Regime have relied upon Atkinson and his staff’s strength in taking a player that was underappreciated in some way and then turning that underappreciated player into an asset.

Caris LeVert was a positionless (not in a good way) injury prone non-shooter who was taken too early in the draft and now he’s the foundation of the Nets rebuild.

Spencer Dinwiddie started one game over two seasons with the Pistons, was traded to the Bulls and waived twice by Chicago in three months before coming to Brooklyn. Now he’s a legitimate 6th Man of the Year candidate.

Joe Harris was unwanted by pretty much every team and was traded, underwent surgery and released in one day two years ago. Now he has a $8 million a year contract and a fabulous beard.

Not to mention Jarrett Allen, who Mike Schmitz of ESPN/Draft Express ranked No. 8 among second year players on Thursday.

And all of this talk about growth and development feeds into the overall culture ethic of the Nets having the best medical team!, best practice facility!, the best we’re-all-family-we-give-shout-outs-to-parents-at-press-conferences-vibes!

Which is why the Nets should trade for Markelle N’Gai Fultz.

All of those developmental pelts on the Nets wall were a warm up act. Markelle, as my podcast partner Brian put it, is the final boss in the Nets player development video game.

(If you’re an auditory learner or just like podcasts - all of this is laid out in our most recent Glue Guys podcast, which you can find directly below these next two sentences. Also subscribe here if you want to weekly morsels of Nets analysis)

Now I completely understand Fultz has an injury, at least that is what his agent is saying, and will undergo rehab soon. If you want to learn more about it, you should read Michael Baumann’s piece from The Ringer. And you should read it if for only the reason to see a Ben Uzoh shout-out in a story written in 2018.

I don’t want to ignore the severity of this injury, whether this injury is real or not. There is a sense out there that this diagnosis is probably a comfort for the 76ers now that they know the root of the issues with Fultz. But Fultz and his agent went to about 10 different specialists before they got this diagnosis. Fultz’s agent pulled his client away from the team without telling the team first. So regardless of this diagnosis, the relationship between Fultz and Philadelphia is awkward to say the least. The 76ers want to focus on winning, not nurturing Fultz back to regularity.

The Nets should make the bet that they can be the team that rehabs Fultz’s young career. Whatever Fultz is going through has made a supremely talented young player expendable for the team that he’s currently on. This is not an Anthony Bennett situation. It’s obvious Fultz has the raw talent to play in the NBA. Fultz is so talented that his per-36 this season is still 13 ppg 5 apg 6 rpg despite the fact he plays hot potato with the ball at the free throw line and he’s made only four three-point shots all season. And he is the youngest player to record a triple-double in NBA history.

And I can already feel the reaction. Why would the Nets want to bring that distraction into their team. What, like what the Nets are doing right now is working out so well? They’ve lost 8 games in a row! This losing streak should be an indication, above anything else, that the Nets are truly further away from being competitive than previously believed. I love Caris LeVert. But his absence shouldn’t result in the cratering that the Nets are going through. It’s not like the added distraction of Fultz is going to suddenly throw the Nets into a tailspin, they’re tail is already spinning without Fultz.

Sean Marks is going to have to make a gamble of some kind to ignite this rebuild. He took a bet on D’Angelo Russell that has paid off to some degree (depending on who you ask). Marks took a chance on trading for Allen Crabbe and that has backfired. What Fultz represents is the lowest cost bet that Marks could make at this point ... although he’s guaranteed $8.8 million this year and guaranteed nearly $10 million next.

And a trade would not only be a shot at the Nets jumping a few rungs on the competitive ladder, Brooklyn is a much better situation than Philly. The pressure of being the No. 1 overall pick goes away once he’s traded away from the team that made him the No. 1 overall pick. Fultz enters a locker room known to be populated by “good guys” who seemingly all pull for each other. And instead of being on a team that is trying to win a championship, Fultz goes to a team that is just trying to win a game!

Bring Fultz in, prove that the magic pixie dust Atkinson and staff possess can be applied to all types of players. If it works, it’s a franchise altering move. If it doesn’t, the cost to get Fultz won’t change the potential of the Nets future dramatically. It’s time to put the development culture to the test for real.