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Are ‘stars’ aligning for Nets in bid for Julius Randle?

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Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Nets are for the most part on the sidelines this summer as the big stars —LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and DeAndre Jordan — look at possible new homes, but within all that movement, there MAY be an opportunity for the Nets to bid on Julius Randle, the Lakers’ 23-year-old power forward who averaged 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds last season.

The scenario —and it’s a bit complicated— would work like this:

—the Lakers get both James and Leonard, constraining them from bidding on Randle, who is a restricted free agent.

—the Mavericks, Randle’s hometown team and long seen as a rival bidder for Randle, sign Jordan to a big deal, limiting them as well both in terms of money ... and need.

—the Nets make a few adjustments that permit them to find another few million in cap space, then tender Randle an offer sheet somewhere between $12 million to $15 million to start. That offer sheet would also offer other amenities, like money up front, trade bonuses etc to make matching prohibitively expansive.

Far-fetched? Maybe, but the Nets are interested in combining Randle with D’Angelo Russell, his good friend and one of the few Lakers who backed him up after last June’s trade and Magic Johnson’s subsequent tirade.

Perhaps more important, the two are represented by the same agent, Aaron Mintz.

Of the three elements in the Randle scenario, the one that could be most difficult to achieve is the Nets finding the cap space for the bid. Brooklyn would have to get Dwight Howard to accept a buyout that would free up $8 million more in cap space and deal either Jeremy Lin or DeMarre Carroll away in the next few days.

Moreover, the Nets would have to abandon the idea of husbanding $50 million to $70 million in cap space for the summer of 2019.

Sean Marks has made that cap space hoard a top priority. With their own first round pick and all that money, the Nets could make a big splash next summer, be flexible.

“It’s definitely a huge, huge asset for us,” Marks told WFAN. “Now, how we use that cap room and when we use that cap room is yet to be determined. A lot of it, to be quite frank, is just having that flexibility, because you don’t know what’s going to come your way all the time. You can sit here and plan for X, Y, Z, and next thing you know you’re faced with something completely different.”

On the other hand, Marks has spoken repeatedly as well about being “opportunistic.”

“A lot of it has to do with who wants to be here, who’s a good system fit, who fits this team’s trajectory. We don’t want to skip steps along the way here,” Marks said in that same interview. “We’re slowly building. It’s going to take time, and we’re all aware of it. The coaching staff understands that, the ownership understands that. To try to fast-forward or fast-track it can lead to mistakes.”

Or as he told NetsDaily back in February, the Nets will continue to “hit singles and doubles,” while being ready for something bigger.

One problem is timing. Can the Nets slip into a crease in all the free agent machinations while waiting for the Howard trade and buyout? It will not be easy, but if Randle want to move from the second biggest market to the biggest and be reunited with DLo, there are possibilities.

Of course, as Brian Lewis notes, there are other less complicated ways to fill some of the Nets needs. Also less expensive. Players like Mario Hezonja who the Nets made a bid for at the deadline and Davis Bertans who they were linked to Friday.

Stay tuned.