After the first two games of the preseason, Taurean Prince has been as impressive as his teammates and coaches had predicted when asked who had impressed in off-season scrimmages.
He’s averaging 20.0 points per game, shooting 15-of-21 overall and a blistering 10-of-14 from deep. He’s also garnered eight rebounds in the two games and did a nice job guarding Anthony Davis, holding him to 16 points (on 4-of-10 shooting) and two rebounds.
So should the Nets offer the 25-year-old an extension ... or let him play out this season and retain matching rights on any deal he can make next July as a restricted free agent? Tricky.
Kenny Atkinson, speaking to the media after the Basquete Franca game, let it be known he’s a fan.
“He’s got an edge and we really want him to bring that to the defensive end. … We need him to defend and I thought he was good,” Atkinson said. “He’s following up on what we see in practices and off-season work.
“Not only his shooting, but I was impressed with how quickly he moves on offense. His release is really quick and he can get it off in small spaces. He made some nice passes, too … so just a very good all-around game from him.”
The Nets have until October 21 to sign Prince to an extension, 10 days from now. Another big performance Saturday vs. the Lakers or next Friday vs. the Raptors and the issue could become a bigger issue.
Also, there’s another question: Will Prince want an extension ... and how much?
So far, Ben Simmons (five years, $170 million), Jamal Murray (five years, $170 million) and Caris LeVert (three years, $52.5 million) are the only players from the 2016 draft class who have received a rookie-scale extension. A number of others are in talks, including Jaylen Brown of the Celtics, Buddy Hield of the Kings and Pascal Siakam of the Raptors.
,For the Nets, tying up Prince in a big deal would be nice in that it would add yet another key piece long-term. They already have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and LeVert on big deals that could extend out four years. Rodions Kurucs and rookie Nicolas Claxton have three-year guaranteed deals.
But the Nets are closing in on luxury tax territory and will have to make a decision next July on extending the league’s top 3-point shooter, Joe Harris. Harris signed a two-year $16 million deal in 2018 that many considered a bargain. Now, it’s an even bigger bargain.
Prince, who is a good friend of KD, has said positive things about the Nets as an organization and how he fits. He told our Billy Reinhardt Spoke at Media Day that despite only being in Brooklyn for a short time, he’d definitely like to be a Net long-term.
“It’s just proof that the work I’ve put in and that the coaches have put in and the things we’ve been doing as a team have been working,” he said after the Franca game. “I’m glad we’ve been able to transfer it over to the game.”
One thing does appear certain is that the Nets did well (again) in a trade scenario. Prince, after two years in Mike Budenholzer’s wide open offense, got stuck in Lloyd Pierce’s more structured system and the Hawks were willing to send him to Brooklyn as part of the Allen Crabbe salary dump. Now, he’s back in the wide open system that Atkinson borrowed from Budenholzer and it looks like he’s taking off.