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Plan B - But Should It Be Plan A?

So Kyrie’s in the bag - now what? Imagine thinking that a couple years ago. You couldn’t devise a path to come to such acquisition but here we are. Signing Irving is the easy part. The challenge comes in what to do next and that’s what’s going to upset the fan base here. Dealing Russell won’t come with a great reception from much of the fan base but it’s the right move for the franchise.

Much has been made about the potential of pairing Russell and Irving. I believe that’s solely to save face in the event Kyrie changes his mind. And the way Russell has reported to be Brooklyn’s Plan B I think the Nets know this pair doesn’t make much sense. Russell hasn’t paired well with Dinwiddie so what makes anyone believe he’ll pair well with another ball dominant PG.

The challenge is not losing Russell for nothing - forcing you to find the right partner for a sign and trade where on the surface there doesn’t appear to be a likely one. If Durant comes to Brooklyn that pretty much prevents any deal since no salary can come back go Brooklyn in the deal. So any team can just sign Russell outright in that case. But there’s one team without the cap room to sign him that I can bet Russell wishes he could - Minnesota. They have a need at PG, he joins a close friend in Towns, now has a familiar face on the staff, and will be nowhere near the tax apron after executing the sign and trade.

There’s a new front office in place now so it remains to be seen how they plan to upgrade the roster and who’s a keeper. But the return from the Butler deal, Covington and Saric, aligns near perfectly for a Russell deal allowing him a starting salary of about $19M/yr. Minnesota would have to throw in another small salary for that number to increase but I think Russell May be willing to sign for a little less to play with teammates he likes after what he endured in LA. I think the Nets could easily throw in a lesser pick to balance the trade but it likely isn’t needed since the Wolves are the ones getting the All Star.

Again, this type of move isn’t about getting Durant. By taking on Covington’s and Saric’s salaries, the Nets become eliminated from the Durant sweepstakes. But here’s what their roster would look like:

PG: Irving / Dinwiddie

SG: LeVert / Harris / Musa

SF: Covington / Prince

PF: Saric / Kurucs

C: Allen

That’s an upgrade to last year’s team (at the expense of a team ahead of us). More importantly, it leaves the Nets with a significant amount of cap room. Renouncing everyone but Davis and Pinson leaves the Nets with about $20M in cap room if they can defer their first round pick. So that allows them to sign a quality player at PF while keeping rights to Davis and Pinson. The one that comes to mind - Al Horford. He’s played under Kenny in Atlanta and I think he’d sign with the Nets. I think he would opt out of his player option of $29M this year in order to secure more money - he even stated such. Signing him to a $60M/3 year deal would completely fill the roster. I think you could do the same type of deal with Milsap. Then you could exceed the cap to re-sign Davis and Pinson. You could then split the MLE between Dudley and Williams leaving you a roster of:

PG: Irving / Dinwiddie / Pinson

SG: LeVert / Harris / Musa

SF: Covington / Prince / Dudley

PF: Horford / Saric / Kurucs

C: Allen / Davis / Williams

Might not be a roster that could take down a healthy Warriors roster from this past season but you may not need to if Durant heads to LA. I also think you throw this plan out if Durant wants to pair with Irving in Brooklyn and fill around the 2 as much as you can. But I think this roster is very attainable, has the right youth/experience balance, has strong depth at every position, has a large number of controllable assets on rookie deals, and above all - can compete with almost any other team. That 10 man rotation would equate to a 58-win team based off their win-shares/48 min from last season - good enough for the second best team in the NBA. To me it borders the line of preferring it to acquiring KD.

It’s scenarios such as these that should bring optimism to Nets fans everywhere. There’s an endless amount of possibilities given the Nets’ current situation.