The Nets situation is more than a bit weird. They’ll pay out $71,659,350 for 20 games from their two best players, with no real guarantees that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be good as new come October when they start practice at HSS Training Center.
At the same time, without big off season moves, they’re likely to return the same basic roster that they have now. Unlike the last two years when there was wholesale turnover, next year’s roster looks pretty much set. KD and Kyrie will be anchoring a team bent on contending for a title.
Except for Joe Harris. While 11 players are currently signed for two years or more, Harris will be an unrestricted free agent. In a free agent market where there will be few gems, the 28-year-old with the picture perfect stroke (and white man’s fist pump) should draw a number of big bids.
So is he going to play it coy and say, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it? Nope. He’s made it clear he wants to be back.
“Definitely, why wouldn’t you? Obviously, those are guys who I’ve gotten close with now that I’ve been with them this past year,” Harris said. “They’re obviously incredible players. You see what they’re able to do when they are healthy and playing. I don’t think there’s anybody in the NBA who wouldn’t want to play with those guys.”
Those guys, of course, are KD and Kyrie (who it should be noted was teammate in 2015-16). He’s making $7.6 million this season, which in light of his accomplishments over the past years, is a bargain. If the Nets want to spend big bucks on him, they have an advantage: they hold is Bird Rights. They can sign him for whatever they want up to the max. The only impediment would be how big Joe Tsai’s eyes will get when he sees the contract.
Tsai has said he’ll be willing to pay the luxury tax, telling Ian Eagle last month that “the fundamental pieces are in place to perhaps go all the way. So, I am absolutely comfortable if we pay the luxury tax.”
It’s highly unlikely that Tsai’s tax bill will approach the record amount Mikhail Prokhorov paid in 2014 — a cool $90.56 million. That was largely based on the Nets having to pay the repeater tax because they had been over the threshold for years.
Of course, the Nets are likely to make other moves in the summer. Even if the roster is built for stability rather than flexibility, they have pieces other teams might want, like Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, maybe even Jarrett Allen. All three have been the subject of trade rumors in the past.
As Stefan Bondy writes, the Nets no matter what they do will have to figure out whether they’ll be able to play Irving, LeVert and Dinwiddie without a real track record.
In reality, the trio has not worked well together. Dinwiddie has been good with LeVert and Irving separately (+43 net points in 305 minutes with Irving and +37 net points with LeVert in 412 minutes) but all three together have outscored opponents by just one point. Kenny Atkinson clearly doesn’t have much faith in that lineup because he used it for just 67 minutes this season.
Sean Marks, being Sean Marks, isn’t tipping his hand, although he did say Thursday night that he likes what he’s got ... just wishes injuries hadn’t intervened.
“We’re very fortunate to have the group we have,” he said. “With Caris and Spencer and Kyrie, there’s a lot of weapons out there. And those guys, we’ve seen them play really well together. Obviously, it hasn’t been as many games and they haven’t had the opportunity to do as much as we’d have liked.
“We always evaluate everything and for sure when you don’t have a massive sample size, that’s gonna make things a little bit difficult,” Marks said talking about the summer and next season. “Again, that’s what we’re here to do. That’s what analytics does, that’s what scouts do, that’s what our front office group does and so forth. Again, utmost confidence we’re right on schedule and on target to go and put a contender out there. That’s been the goal all along.”
Harris expressed the same emotions.
“Yeah it’s sort of frustrating for everybody just because obviously we were without Ky’ for a majority of the season but we were without a lot of guys for a majority of the season. We never truly had a healthy roster,” Harris said. “I’d venture to guess it’s probably less than five games where everybody that was supposed to be playing this year was all fully healthy.”
Better luck next year.
- Joe Harris wants to re-sign with the Nets as GM Sean Marks plots for title contention - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- The Nets still don’t know what they’re building on - Brian Lewis - New York Post