The Nets are still without a coach for next season and it’s hard to know, under the circumstances, whether the team has even initiated a search. Its off-season plans are also a mystery. Any big improvement —”more pieces,” as Kyrie Irving put it— will have to come in the form of trades. The Nets have no cap space and are likely to be a luxury tax team. Not to mention team health. There’s been no update on how the four players who tested positive for coronavirus are doing ... other than Kevin Durant’s disclosure that he’s one of the four.
Still, none of that has stifled discussion of what has become the biggest questions mark —the status of near 7-footer Jarrett Allen.
As Brian Lewis writes Monday, is the 21-year-old...
Long-term center or deposed starter?
Foundation piece or trade chip?
Homegrown Net or casualty of Brooklyn’s new order?
It’s become increasingly obvious that Allen lost his biggest champion when Kenny Atkinson was dumped a couple of weeks ago and in fact, Atkinson’s unwillingness to move him out of the starting lineup seems to have been a big irritant between Atkinson and the front office. Jacque Vaughn’s first move as interim coach was to give DeAndre Jordan, 10 years Allen’s senior on to the first team.
But Allen’s future is not binary, a choice between him and Jordan. There’s increasing indications that the Nets might want to start KD at the 5, permitting the Nets, if they want, to put all three of their backcourt players —Irving, Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie— on the court at the same time.
Atkinson referenced the possibility of KD at the 5 in the closing days of his tenure.
“No problem. If he’s going against a big strong guy, [maybe not]; but then you have to come out and guard him,” Atkinson told The Post. “Teams are realizing. You just have to understand that advantage.”
And as our Billy Reinhardt tweeted over the weekend, Durant has some defensive skills as a secondary shot blocker.
KD operating as a secondary shot blocker for Brooklyn next season is going to elevate the defense tremendously. Could allow the perimeter defense to be more aggressive and centers might not play a drop coverage as much. https://t.co/2tr7yEvPEE— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) March 22, 2020
Two years ago, in fact, he blocked 1.8 blocks per game. Allen’s career-high is 1.5, also two years ago. Meanwhile, the Nets are very high on 20-year-old rookie Nicolas Claxton who has shown some of the same skills as Durant, if at a lot lower level. The two plan to work out together in the summer, Claxton told our Chris Milholen before the season was suspended. Could he eventually be Duran’t back up in that stretch 5 role?
And of course, if Allen isn’t the starter, could the Nets move him and replace him with someone like Aaron Gordon who would fit nicely at the 4? They reportedly turned down an offer for him that would’ve netted Clint Capela.
Bobby Marks, who spoke to Greg Logan last week, has suggested the Nets might have to dump LeVert or Dinwiddie to add that championship piece. but he’s also previously said that Allen could net Brooklyn a nice return, maybe Gordon.
Jared Dudley, a big Allen supporter when he was with the team last season, told Logan that the Nets should be careful about moving Allen. The big payoff with the near 7-footer is down the road.
“His value is not going to be the same as when he’s playing 25 to 28 and he’s getting blocks on Sports Center and people say, ‘Hey, we’ll take this young guy.’ Jarrett Allen still has another level he can get to right now. DeAndre Jordan and guys of that age are set at who they are.”
There are other issues, of course, like Allen’s aggressiveness and inconsistency. Even Dinwiddie has noted it. When he’s at his best, “Allen is “totally different. … When he comes with that aggressiveness, he shows [top 5] type of talent.”
Before he was relegated to the bench, Allen was not that player. As Lewis points out, Allen’s form dipped just before the coaching change, a team-worst minus-49 over the last eight games. Even before Vaughn moved him to the second unit, Atkinson eventually cut his playing time.
Of course, at this point with so much uncertainty, particularly with regarding to the head coach, all of this is speculation. Sean Marks is not in the habit of discussing trade talks and right now, he has a lot more to think about.
- Jarrett Allen’s status with Nets has never been more unclear - Brian Lewis - New York Post