When you look at the Nets roster, one thing stands out. At the moment, Brooklyn has one player taller than 6’10”, Jarrett Allen. Depending on who you read, Rodions Kurucs is 6’9” or 6’10”. Ed Davis is a legitimate 6’10” but he’s currently a free agent ... and the Nets are limited in what they can provide him.
So, you’d have to think that securing a big man has to be a priority for Sean Marks, et al. Their top priority is securing Kevin Durant, but 1) there’s a lot of competition and 2) he won’t play next season.
So what’s the back-up plan? Maybe, as Bobby Marks suggested Tuesday night on the ESPN Mock Draft Special, the Nets should trade up to get Goga Bitadze, the 6’11” Georgian. He thinks sending a team just outside the lottery both their firsts and future second could put them in position to take Bitadze.
More likely, the Nets have a list of free agents, prioritized. And it would appear that they want Davis back as well. Brian Lewis thinks the most likely target after KD is the 76ers’ Tobias Harris. The 6’9” 27-year-old is an unrestricted free agent with local ties to both Long Island and Brooklyn, including family ties to Kenny Atkinson. He can play the stretch 4 and get his share of rebounds. And he’s a character guy who wants to play with other character guys.
“Tobias wants to be around good guys who want to be together,” a source close to Harris told The Post. “He wants to be on a team that has a chance to win a championship. He’s looking for a good coach, a good style of play and a team with a chance to win a championship.”
The problem is that the mutual interest between the Nets and Harris may not extend to dollars and cents. Harris is eligible for five-year, $190 million deals from Philadelphia, as Lewis notes, but if he signs with any other team, that max number drops to four year and $141 million. He’d want to be compensated if he leaves all that Philly money on the table.
How about Kristaps Porzingis? There was a lot of mutual interest between the Nets and the 7’3” big for nearly a year before the Knicks traded him to Dallas. When the Knicks asked for his preferred trade destinations, Brooklyn was at the top of the list. The Mavericks weren’t in the top five.
Of course, the only way for the Nets to get Porzingis would be via a big offer sheet. Dallas, according to most pundits, would match anything the Nets proposed. They gave up too much in the trade, including two future first rounders. And we don’t know if Porzingis has so bonded with Luka Doncic that such an offer sheet would be folly in the first place.
As NetsDaily first reported, Porzingis hinted last week that the free agency process might not be an open-and-shut case for Mark Cuban.
“It’s planned that I’ll be in the U.S. at the beginning of July — a couple of meetings are scheduled,” Porzingis told Latvian TV station LETA.
Rick Carlisle, the Mavs coach who accompanied Porzingis to Latvia (as did Rodions Kurucs), said priority No. 1 is getting the 24-year-old’s commitment.
“He’s a free agent on July 1,” Carlisle said. “We have to get him re-signed and then he’ll have a program through the summer.”
And finally, there’s Al Horford who has told Boston he’s opting out of his deal. The general consensus around the league is that the 33-year-old already has a deal in place. That’s led to speculation Brooklyn might be an ideal landing spot.
A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports New England, noted the argument for the Nets is pretty simple.
A team to keep an eye on in the Al Horford sweepstakes is the Brooklyn Nets, league source says. The #Nets are a team on the rise, Al's close ties to head coach Kenny Atkinson and the team's cap space mentioned as the main reasons.— A. Sherrod Blakely (@ASherrodblakely) June 19, 2019
In fact, as Blakely wrote three years ago, it was Atkinson who pushed Horford to develop a three-point shot while an assistant with the Hawks. Horford now hits those deep shots at a clip approaching 40 percent.
“He’ll look at you and he’s a pretty calculated guy,” Atkinson said. “He was a little skeptical at first. Once we started working and we practice, practice all summer. He just embraced it,” said of his conversations with Horford back in 2012.
Horford, of course, would be 37 at the end of a guaranteed four year deal and not a lot of bigs last that long or are effective. But, hey, we’ll see.
- Nets’ fallback options feature Tobias Harris, Kristaps Porzingis intrigue - Brian Lewis - New York Post