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Nets plan on ‘hitting singles’ in off-season, but if a ‘home run’ comes along...

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Dan Favale of Bleacher Report did an interesting (and very smart) piece this week for Bleacher Report. Looking at the offseason, he pointed to “five teams that are low-key free agent destinations”; that is teams that you might not think about as places top free agents would gravitate toward.

And on his list are the 23-50 Brooklyn Nets. Favale suggests that the Nets rep as a player-friendly club could help them this summer ... when most of us (and the front office) are thinking singles, not home runs.

The Nets champion a player-friendly style punctuated by three-point volume, higher-octane speeds (depending on the lineup) and a near indiscriminate pecking order.

In doing so, they’ve become a polestar for second chances and career revivals, rehabilitating the value of castoffs like DeMarre Carroll, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris. And they’ve done this amid frequent roster turnover and without developing the detached stigma typically attached to franchises in limbo—hence their edging the Phoenix Suns for this spot.

Certainly, the current roster agrees. In an interview for the G League’s official site this week, Dinwiddie talked about the freedom to express yourself, your game.

“Playing with Brooklyn has been a lot of fun. Just to be able to read and react, and be in an offense where a lot of people have a lot of opportunity to make plays.”

Favale thinks it’s more than that. He cites a favorite NetsDaily theme, little things can mean a lot to players.

Little things, such as a players’ family lounge, resonate around the league. The Nets do not have a discernible hold on their long-term foundation, but they’re not operating with the distant indifference of the Sam Hinkie-era Philadelphia 76ers either.

He also argues that the ability to get top restricted free agents to sign offer sheets in the midst of a rebuild shouldn’t be dismissed as a fool’s errand, but rather be seen as a positive.

Something as ostensibly innocuous as getting Otto Porter Jr. to sign their max offer sheet over the summer—rather than another team’s—matters. He isn’t Allen Crabbe or Tyler Johnson. He had other options.

And so, he thinks there could be some interesting possibilities this summer, with the Nets holding $15 million (or more with some moves) in cap space. He thinks holding off on signing Joe Harris —whose cap hold is only $1.5 million— and pushing DeMarre Carroll in a cap-friendly trade could get them above $20 million.

Is that something Sean Marks is likely to embrace? He isn’t saying, but in a chat last month with NetsDaily, the Nets GM again talked more about singles than home runs ... and patience. But he didn’t dismiss the idea of being “opportunistic.”

“I think for us, it’s going be ‘look, we’re going to keep hitting singles and every now and then, we will tend to be opportunistic. Where can we strike, where can we make a move that we feel fits this organization as a whole and does that accelerate that build, that process.

And i’m not sure when those (moves) are going to come. They could come this off-season. I would never say, ‘look, we’re going to do absolutely nothing,” because why would we do that.”

Marks indeed volunteered that the Nets’ almost-forgotten pursuit of Porter —in the form of a $106.5 million offer sheet— is likely a model: see an opportunity, take it, but if you fail, don’t panic, don’t think you need to spend money or make trades for the sake of making deals. Rather, it’s back to the drawing board.

“You’ve also got to weigh things and say, ‘look, this is where we’re thinking we’re going to go, the direction we’re going to go’ and all of a sudden, we have to reset. We don’t get Otto Porter.

“So what’s next? It’s not, ‘We didn’t get Otto Porter so let’s go spend a lot of money in this direction, in that direction.’ knowing these are the non-negotiables that we’ve put out there on why we’re signing guys, why we’re not signing guys, stick to that plan.”

Favale agrees that the Nets need not pursue “marquee level talent,” someone like a LeBron James or Paul George. Instead, he suggests rather they should consider “putting a dent” in free agency, all the while understanding they’ve put a lot of “sweat equity” into their pool of good young players, each of whom will need to get paid a year from now.

Marks didn’t seem to disagree and hinted that there could be a shortened timeline with the way the league’s cap space is distributed ... with only seven teams, including Brooklyn, with any real cap space.

“I would say this, I don’t know because the landscape of the league is vastly different and is changing all the time. Are there a lot of sellers out there now? Probably. A lot more sellers than buyers. Now what does that mean? Who’s going to be the first time to zag when everyone else is zigging.”

Then, he smiled.