When asked if being labeled a “salary dump” serves as motivation, Kenneth Faried made it clear that he believes he’s still the same player he was a few years back ... despite a heavy drop off last season.
“Hey, I never stopped being the player I am,” said Faried at his media introduction Tuesday. “There’s no ‘were.’ I am who I am. Like I said, the Nuggets wanted to go in a different direction. Brooklyn decided to ‘Hey, let’s pick up a still-able, still-capable player who can go out there and produce and lead a team and do the things he’s done from before.’”
Only July 13, Faried was traded to Brooklyn along with Darrell Arthur, who was later sent to Phoenix, as well as a first-round pick in 2019 and a second in 2020. In return, Nets sent Denver Isaiah Whitehead’s non-guaranteed deal. It was a salary dump for Denver, plain and simple. Faried is owed $13.8 million for one season.
“The first thing I thought of when I found out I was getting traded was not to be close to home but I’m getting traded, a fresh start, something new,” added Faried who had played his entire seven-year career with the Nuggets.
This script sounds awfully familiar. Last season, the Nets traded Justin Hamilton to Toronto for DeMarre Carroll, a first and a second (which turned into Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs.) Carroll was coming off knee surgery and couldn’t find his rhythm in Toronto. His career looked like it was on a downward spiral at 30.
The difference between the two? The Faried deal looks like a better deal, at least as of right now. Carroll had two years left on his contract when he was traded to the Nets, Faried has one. The first rounder the Nets received from Denver has fewer protections than the Toronto pick.
Of course, the Toronto trade turned out to be a huge steal. Carroll was a Swiss Army Knife to say the least, serving as a spark and veteran leader, all while producing 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, the best season of his career. He also played 29.9 minutes a game, most of the Nets.
Faried is looking to do the same. After five consecutive seasons of averaging a near double double for Denver, Faried lost his spot when the game started to change and the Nuggets found Nikola Jokic in the second round and signed Paul Millsap to a monster deal. His minutes went from 26.6 over the first five seasons to just 19 over the last two seasons — 14.4 in only 32 games last year.
When asked what happened in Denver, Faried basically echoed Carroll’s comments about the system and how he no longer fit.
“Life happens. Coach wanted to go a different direction. It wasn’t me. I still worked hard, I still did what I was able to do ... Everybody wanted to go a different direction.”
Indeed. It became difficult as the league started to change and stretch 4’s nearly became mandatory. Faried aka “the Manimal” suddenly became the forgotten piece — a 28-year-old animal on the glass but has made two 3-pointers in his career. Now, however, on a team filled with shooters, Faried can propel Brooklyn’s transition game. For a team that has lacked athleticism and struggled on the glass, Faried might serve as a breath of fresh air in Brooklyn.
“They brought me in here to be the player I am, and that’s the hustle, grit, grind hard, energy guy, go grab every rebound, play defense; and you may be surprised this year about the other things I can do in my repertoire. But I’m not one to talk about it; I’m going to just show you.”
Ding, ding, ding! Grit! Extra points for The Manimal. Seriously though, he sounds like a Kenny Atkinson type of player.
Jarrett Allen is going to be the starting center. There’s no doubt about that, and there’s little doubt he’s going to grow. That said, aside from strength, the top item on his improvement agenda has to be rebounding. The two go hand-in-hand. If the Nets are getting killed on the glass, don’t be surprised to see Faried nab some extra minutes. He owns a career average of 8.2 boards per game over 25 minutes.
While he is not a 3-point threat, Faried wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of developing one and even took a few three’s this week in the Nike Pro City tourney at Baruch College in Manhattan.
If he does or doesn’t make three’s, that’s not much of an issue, given the role he’s likely to play. Having Faried flying in for boards —and putbacks— after a 3-point shot attempt is a more likely scenario. This will also make life so much easier for Allen who should excel in tapouts with his 7’7” wingspan.
The best part about Faried, like Carroll, is that expectations aren’t that high. The Nets got a first and a second rounder in both trades, essentially the reason why they made the trade in the first place. The player is a bonus if things work out.
Faried thinks he might just surprise everybody and put up numbers similar to those from his early days in Denver. Not to mention intangibles... just as Carroll did. Just ask him.
“My energy is contagious, so my energy when I was in the game doing the things I did with Denver were contagious around the whole team. The stadium, period. That’s why when you hear, ‘We want Manimal!’ back when I was in Denver, or fans chanting, ‘We Want Manimal,’ it’s for a reason. Because I bring that energy and that’s what I plan to do here.”