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NetsDaily Off-Season Report - No. 11

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And we’re back, for our 12th big year! Every weekend, we’ll be updating the Nets’ off-season with bits and pieces of information, gossip, etc. to help fans get ready for the giddiness of next season.

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Some housekeeping

The Nets remade their roster this summer, signed two NBA super stars and engaged in two sign-and-trades. With 15 spots now filled, Nets have a payroll of around $125 million, about $16 million over the cap, but still more than $7 million away from the luxury tax threshold. They are “hard-capped” because of the double S&T that brought Kevin Durant to Brooklyn, but that’s not likely to matter. The hard cap only takes effect if they want to go above $138.9 million in salary. That’s not going to happen.

The Nets, of course, haven’t been significantly over the cap in three years and in fact were under the cap floor in 2016-17, Sean Marks’ first full season in Brooklyn. Going forward, the Nets will have a number of financial decisions to make, starting with extensions for Caris LeVert and possibly Taurean Prince this fall. The Nets have until the day before the 2019-20 season opener to make decisions on LeVert and Prince. That’s roughly October 21. If they decide not to extend, they will be restricted free agents next summer. Look for the Nets to extend LeVert, wait on Prince.

Next summer, they will have to decide whether to re-sign Joe Harris, who signed for less-than-market-rate last summer and whether to exercise their team options on Garrett Temple at a cost of $5 million, Theo Pinson at $1.7 million and Nwaba at $1.8 million. On the other hand, they will finally lose Deron Williams $5.5 million in dead money, the last vestige of the Billy King era.

Other than that, the Nets four highest paid players will all be under contract next season with no options: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan ... in that order. As noted this week, KD and Irving have 3+1 deals, Jordan is fully guaranteed over four. Dinwiddie has a player option in 2021-22.

Despite the addition of all those new players, the roster isn’t that much older than it was last season. The Nets added four 30+ players in Durant and Jordan (both 30), Wilson Chandler (32) and Garrett Temple (33) but 11 of the 15 players are 27 or under. Dzanan Musa, who turned 20 in May, remains the youngest Net. Garrett Temple, at 33, is the oldest.

--Dzanan Musa (20)

--Nicolas Claxton (20)

--Jarrett Allen (21)

--Rodions Kurucs (21)

--Theo Pinson (23)

--Caris LeVert (24)

--Taurean Prince (25)

David Nwaba (26)

--Spencer Dinwiddie (26)

--Joe Harris (27)

--Kyrie Irving (27)

We didn’t include the Nets other second round pick, Jaylen Hands, who has yet to sign a deal with Brooklyn. He’s 20, slightly older than Musa and Claxton.

Finally, a couple of minor points on the deals the Nets made since Draft Night.

—There’s no indication that the Nets sent any cash considerations to Golden State in the double S&T involving Durant and D’Angelo Russell. Golden State did have to send Minnesota a reported $3.6 million in cash so they’d take on Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham. That leaves the Nets with $5.72 million in cash considerations that they can used to sweeten a trade or spend on draft picks —adding or moving up— next June.

—The protections on the Warriors pick acquired in the double S&T is 1-20, meaning if Golden State is one of the top 10 teams next year, Brooklyn gets the pick. If not, the pick becomes a second rounder in 2025. So root for the Warriors. Also root for the Blazers. Their second rounder conveys to the Nets if Portland is a top five team. Nets got that pick (and Isaia Cordinier) in the Jeremy Lin trade.

Marcus Morris decision to renege on his deal with San Antonio and instead sign with the Knicks has no effect on the deal that the Nets cut with the Spurs (and Wizards) to help San Antonio create room for Morris. Because that deal, centered on a DeMarre Carroll S&T, was done before Morris signed, it remains in place. Carroll gets a third year on his Spurs contract (with only $1.35 million guaranteed) and the Nets retain their two stashes, Aaron White and Nemanja Dangubic. White signed a two-year deal Saturday with Olimpia Milano. There had been some speculation that the Nets might be interested in bringing him in, but the 26-year-old opted to stay in Europe.

15th man done

The Nets didn’t close out their roster last season until July 30 when they signed Treveon Graham to a vets minimum deal. This season, they got things done a little earlier. Shams Charania and Michael Scotto report the Nets have an agreement with David Nwaba, a 6’4” defensive-minded shooting guard who’s 26. Nwaba reportedly is getting a vets minimum deal.

Now we move on to the two two-way deals. Those are likely to be announced in the coming weeks, although last year, the second of the two-ways, Alan Williams, didn’t sign until mid-September just before training camp.

There are a few candidates on the Nets summer league roster.

Josh Gray has started at the point for the Nets most of the summer league. At 25, he’s a bit older than most two-ways, but he’s shown grit and consistency.

Isaia Cordinier wowed the Summer League Saturday night after a solid season in France. He’s only 22. He just signed a two-year deal with Nanterre of the French League but reportedly has “NBA outs.” Would he accept a two-way? He would no doubt make more in Europe than even as a two-way.

Another possibility on the Summer League roster is Amida Brimah, a seven footer who’s played the last two years in the G League. Both and NCAA champion and G League champion, Brimah showed again this week that he’s solid defender. In 13 minutes Saturday night vs. Detroit, he grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots. Would he be willing to return to the G League for a third year or opt for more money overseas?

Ahmed Hill, a 6’5” shooting guard, has also played well and showed NBA range on his three’s. He’s 23.

Boston Trade ... who won?

We’ve been reluctant until now to discuss the Boston Trade —oh, the horror— which had haunted the Nets with all its lost draft picks until this summer. It’s being called, and rightly so, one of the worst, if not the worst, trade in NBA history: a team sacrificed its future for another team’s past. Now, however, there’s some revisionist history with a few Nets fans saying with the signing of Kyrie Irving, the Nets should declare victory.

Nah, but right now, you can argue (as we will) that the trade is a draw. The key problem for the Nets was that they traded three picks and a pick swap for three players aged 36 (Paul Pierce), 37 (Kevin Garnett) and 35 (Jason Terry). The Nets had hoped that the picks would be low and didn’t protect them. They were going to be a dynasty after all.

So, what does it look like now, in retrospect. We know what happened to Pierce, KG and Terry. Garnett was the last to depart, at the deadline in 2015. The Nets won one playoff series. The Celtics got a bonanza in picks and Danny Ainge became more a genius than he had been. But lets look closer at the picks and what happened to them.

2014 first rounder: Celtics chose James Young, a 6’6” swingman out of Kentucky, at No. 17. Young never fulfilled his potential and was dumped by Boston in 2017. He’s since had unsuccessful stints with the Pelicans, Bucks and 76ers. He’s currently a free agent.

2016 first rounder: Celtics chose Jaylen Brown, a 6’7” shooting guard out of Cal at No. 3. Brown has played well, but inconsistently in Boston. And in that same draft, Sean Marks traded for the No. 20 pick and chose Caris LeVert. At worst, LeVert is Brown’s equal in terms of talent. He’s two years older and has missed a lot of games, but LeVert averaged 21 ppg in the playoffs for a surprising Nets team while Brown averaged 13 points for a disappointing Celtics squad.

2017 swap of first rounders. Of all the lost picks, this one hurt the most. Boston traded its rights to the overall No. 1 pick, the Nets pick, for the overall No. 3 pick which went to Philly. Markelle Fultz became Jayson Tatum and Tatum looked like a budding star if not a superstar particularly in the playoffs. He dropped off a bit last year, but is still a terrific player. On the other side of the swap, the No. 1 for the No. 27, the Nets made a strategic move that like Brown vs. LeVert, saved further embarrassment. The pick was sent to the Lakers, becoming the key piece in the D’Angelo Russell trade. This move now looks a lot better than it did a year ago. DLo, of course, went to Golden State in an S&T for Kevin Durant and a moderately protected first rounder.

2018 first rounder: Celtics used the pick to acquire Kyrie Irving in August of 2017. There were other other pieces in the deal: Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic went to Cleveland along with a 2020 second rounder but the key pieces were Irving and the Nets pick. Because the Nets improved from a 20-win season to a 28-win season, the pick dropped to eighth (Collin Sexton). And this month, the Nets got Irving as a free agent. Lets call this a win for the Nets —despite what the Celtics fans may think.

So draw it is. No one can ignore the three horrible seasons of the rebuild ... and the constant jokes and disses, but the Nets not just survived the trade but actually wound up with some neat assets in succeeding years, thanks to some snappy looking moves by Sean Marks. Yes, the Nets had to dump Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez and trade away a pick that became Kyle Kuzma along the way, but the assets they returned proved very valuable in Marks hands.

On the other side of the ledger, the Celtics haven’t created a dynasty despite that cache of high picks. Since the trade, they’ve lost in the first round twice, in the second round once and made the Eastern Conference Finals twice, only to lose to LeBron. Now, they are seen as a borderline playoff team with the loss of Irving, et al.

Interestingly, Mikhail Prokhorov seemed to suggest in his NetsDaily fan interview that the deal —while awful in retrospect— provided some intangibles.

“I think the first time we approached the rebuild the idea was to really go big and take some risks. Honestly, it was a choice that could have paid off, but didn’t in our case. We did, however, bring quite a bit of excitement to the team at the time, and, considering we had moved to a new market, maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing, even though we did pay a high price in the seasons that followed.”

Lets’ move on, shall we?

Investing with the Boss

Joe Harris is one of a number or NBA players who are investing in a new app, HomeCourt, which uses artificial intelligence to help players at all levels improve their game. Harris described it in a video posted on Twitter...

Harris by no means alone. FastCompany laid out who else, starting with the NBA, that’s put money in the app and its creator.

Other investors include Will Smith’s Dreamers Fund, the Alibaba Entrepreneurship Fund, and a laundry list of pro ballers, including Al Horford, Sue Bird, Bradley Beal, Jeremy Lin and the Plumlee brothers (Mason and Miles), all of whom join Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Brooklyn Nets co-owner (and Alibaba executive vice chairman) Joe Tsai, both of whom also invested in Nex Team’s seed round last summer.

Tsai’s investment is through Hong Kong-based Blue Pool Capital, which is also the parent of JTsai Sports which reportedly owns his stakes in the Nets and Liberty.

We guess if you’re going to invest in business that’s using AI, it’s best to follow Tsai, who is pushing AI technology in Alibaba’s businesses and who is worth around $10 billion.

Donald Trump, New Jersey Nets fan?

Chris Tomasson, who used to cover the Denver Nuggets, was cleaning out some files the other day and found an interesting tidbit. which he tweeted...

A couple of points here: KMart and Trump as pals would seem to strain credibility, but we can deal with that. Also, Trump didn’t need to speculate. He could have asked the Nets owner at the time, fellow New York real estate developer, Bruce Ratner. Ratner wouldn’t pony up the cash needed to match Denver’s draconian offer sheet: six years, $92.5 million and a provision that as much as $27 million be paid up front.

Did Trump and Ratner have a relationship at the time? You’d think so, considering that this was about the time Ratner hired Ivanka Trump to her first job after graduation from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Indeed, Trump would make an appearance every once in a while at the Meadowlands while Ratner owned the team. Here’s the future president and son Eric enjoying hot dogs at Izod Center back in 2007.

We remember those hot dogs. Maybe “enjoying” is too strong a word.

Speaking of the New Jersey Nets...

When we saw images of the Kyrie Irving signing ceremony in West Orange, NJ last week, we started wondering, Might the Nets make a marketing push in New Jersey now that the NBA’s most accomplished Jerseyan has made it clear the lure of home played a big part in his decision.

Take a look at this image of Kyrie after the signing.

That is a vintage Nets cap. You didn’t see a lot of “New Jersey” in the marketing of the Nets after Bruce Ratner bought the team in 2004 and Brett Yormark took over as CEO. The team was headed to Brooklyn and all signs of New Jersey on team stationery and uniforms disappeared.

But if you to re-start selling the team in New Jersey, that’s a good start.

So is this...

Irving distributed both images through RocNation Sports (that’s Jay-Z next to him in West Orange). There’s no indication that this was anything other than an homage to his heritage as a Jerseyan. It wasn’t about marketing for him!

But the Nets could certainly take advantage of having Irving on the team. There was a lot of bitterness when the Nets picked up and moved across the river after 35 years in East Rutherford and Newark. New Jersey Nets history went down the memory hole (although even before the Irving signing, there were hints that things were changing inside the marketing operation regarding New Jersey.)

Maybe the Nets could have a “New Jersey Night.” They’ve had them for Taiwan, Russia and Lithuania! (Too snarky? Nah.)

Final Note

David Nwaba is the ninth new member of the Nets. Here’s a list of comings and goings.

Arriving...

Kevin Durant, 6’11” PF (Golden State)

Kyrie Irving, 6’3” PG (Boston)

DeAndre Jordan, 6’11” C (New York)

Garrett Temple, 6’6” SG (Clippers)

Taurean Prince, 6’8” SF (Atlanta)

Nicolas Claxton, 7’0” PF (NBA Draft with New York pick at 31)

Jaylen Hands, 6’3” PG (NBA Draft with Clippers pick at 56)

Wilson Chandler, 6’7” SF (Clippers)

—David Nwaba, 6’4” SG (Cleveland)

—Protected 1-20 first round pick in 2020 (Golden State)

—Lottery-protected first round pick in 2020 (Philadelphia)

—Unprotected second round pick in 2021 (Atlanta)

—Draft rights to Aaron White, 6’9” PF (Zalgiris Lithuania)

—Draft rights to Nemanja Dangubic, 6’8” SF (Bayern Munich)

The Nets also resigned free agent Theo Pinson, 6’7” combo guard.

Departing...

D’Angelo Russell, 6’5” PG (Golden State)

Shabazz Napier, 6’1” PG (Golden State > Minnesota)

Treveon Graham, 6’5” SF (Golden State > Minnesota)

Allen Crabbe, 6’6” SG (Atlanta)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 6’7” PF (Toronto)

DeMarre Carroll, 6’8” SF (San Antonio)

Ed Davis, 6’10” C (Utah)

Jared Dudley, 6’9” SF (Lakers)

Alan Williams, 6’9” PF (Free Agent)

—First round pick in 2019 - Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Atlanta)

—First round pick in 2019 - Mfiondu Kabengele Draft (Clippers)

—Lottery-protected first round pick in 2020 (Philadelphia)

So, ICYMI, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are members of the Nets.