While there is now growing optimism that the NBA season might resume, I felt Nets Twitter was lacking a little sizzle.
To spice things up a bit, I decided to conduct a survey. For the third year in a row, I was going to put up a poll for each player on the Nets roster, asking fans to simply give their opinion — “Will ______ be back next season?”
While there is now optimism for the NBA’s return, for a third straight year I’m going to bring back this exercise:— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
As of now, which 2019-2020 Nets do you think will be back next season?
(not who you want to return) https://t.co/2dCB454svR
As the tweet clarifies, this is who fans think will be back — reading the tea leaves — and not necessarily their personal preference.
Over the years, fans have been quite accurate in predicting who would and wouldn’t be back.
Voters in last year’s end-of-season survey correctly predicted the fate of fourteen of the sixteen players. The notable misses were Ed Davis and D’Angelo Russell. Russell actually had a whopping 90% of fans predicting he’d be back — displaying that not even the most hopeful of Nets fans could’ve imagined the ‘Clean Sweep’ that would take place just a month later.
Moving on to this year’s outcome — the results are in and the survey says that just six of the sixteen Nets polled will have new homes next season.
Will Kevin Durant be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
Figured I’d include every single member on the roster just to be thorough (hey, you never know). Kevin Durant finally getting on the floor — whenever that is — will be a sight to see.
Will Kyrie Irving be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
We got a little glimpse of the artistry of Kyrie Irving in the 20 games he played this season. Every time he steps on the court, it’s an absolute show. With KD by his side, Barclays Center should be the hottest ticket in town (if indeed there are tickets!)
Will DeAndre Jordan be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
The third and often forgotten member of The Clean Sweep. DeAndre Jordan has had a resurgent first year with the Nets, proving he still has plenty left in the tank. As Nets fans predict, he’ll be back — again as Brooklyn’s starting center? See below.
Will Caris LeVert be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
Do the Nets need a solidified third star? Will Caris LeVert prove durable and consistent enough to fill that role? Those are two real questions for the Nets front office to debate internally.
Caris LeVert’s talent level is undeniable and his upward trajectory is enticing. In the week leading up to the league’s suspension, LeVert registered a triple double and 51-point game. Recency bias might be a thing, but unless a top-20 talent like a James Harden, Bradley Beal, or Ben Simmons becomes attainable, I agree with Nets fans, LeVert seems safe.
Will Garrett Temple be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
Next up is Garrett Temple. High character, high IQ, honorary member of The Clean Sweep as a friend of Kyrie’s — Temple checks all the boxes for what you’d want in a bench piece for a contender. Temple was forced into a larger role than expected when Irving and LeVert simultaneously went down with injuries — even being forced to play some point guard — but when allowed to play his off-guard role for 15-20 minutes per night, Temple proved productive.
While I don’t think the Nets would deem Temple off-limits in any trade where they need to use his $5-million salary as filler, the chances of that happening are probably quite slim as there are other (and better) ways to improve the roster. Like the fans, I’m confident Temple will be a Net next season.
Will Joe Harris be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
The question on everybody’s mind — will Joe Harris be back next season? According to Nets fans, the answer is an emphatic YES!
The Nets hold Harris’ Bird Rights, so they can go over the salary cap to re-sign him and offer more than any other team can. While Harris is likely to garner a significant raise from his current salary of $7.7 million, owner Joe Tsai has given every indication that he’s ready and willing to invest whatever is necessary to aid the Nets in their championship quest. (Although he did say two weeks ago that once things settle, he’ll be paying more attention to the finances of his teams.)
Could the NBA stoppage throw a wrinkle into those plans? Prior to the pandemic, the prevailing wisdom was that Harris could command an annual salary between $12-million and $15-million — likely on a three or four-year deal. However, history intervened. Owners pockets aren’t as deep. The China fiasco isn’t helping either. Will those financial hardships will affect contracts and teams’ willingness to spend? Almost certainly
Fans understand the Nets can pay Harris more than any other team and Tsai has the money to do it. So, 88 percent of them have placed their faith in Tsai delivering on his promise to invest whatever is necessary to build a title team. This is Tsai’s first real test and until he gives us a reason to think otherwise, I’ll place my faith in him putting his money down. Harris should be back in Brooklyn next season.
Will Spencer Dinwiddie be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
And this is where the poll begins to get interesting...
Spencer Dinwiddie is the first Net — and the most prominent player — who fans believe will be playing somewhere else next season. There are quite a few reasons why trading Dinwiddie would make sense for Brooklyn. For one, at the end of next season, Dinwiddie can opt out of the final year of his contract (at $12.4 million) and become an unrestricted free agent. If things hadn’t changed so dramatically in the world, he might have garnered a contract upwards of $20 million per year. That’s now uncertain. The market IS going to get tighter for him just as it is for Harris.
The Nets are likely to be in the luxury tax and (along with the rest of the league) in unprecedented territory. So, a big pay day for Dinwiddie could be a back breaker with all the luxury tax implications.
Dinwiddie will be 28 at the time of 2021 free agency and he will surely want to cash in on a big contract that takes him through his prime years. How big remains a question.
Secondly, while Dinwiddie is a really good player, the Nets could use an upgrade in their front court and balancing out the roster by sending Dinwiddie to a point guard-needy team for a front court piece could prove beneficial. For the Nets, it’ll be difficult to improve the roster in any meaningful way without moving either Dinwiddie or LeVert. It seems Nets fans believe Dinwiddie will be the one to go.
Will Jarrett Allen be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
From the moment Kenny Atkinson was let go, speculation has been growing about Jarrett Allen’s place on the Nets going forward. In his first game as interim coach, the only notable adjustment Jacque Vaughn made was to insert Jordan in the starting lineup, benching Allen in the process.
Jordan, a former All-Star who signed in Brooklyn to team up with with his superstar pals, was reportedly less than thrilled with the idea of coming off the bench. Vaughn making that immediate adjustment seemed like a way to appease his veterans and ingratiate himself with those in power. It was also probably warranted. Over the final month or so of the season prior to suspension, Jordan was consistently outplaying Allen and often finishing games.
With the Nets having title aspirations in the not so distant future, is the 22-year old ‘Fro’ ready for the big stage? In addition, similar to Dinwiddie, Allen could be a free agent after next season. Although restricted, Allen will most definitely command a significant raise. If Jordan is the starter, with Nic Claxton developing, and KD expected to play some minutes at the 5 — on top of a strong free agent class — does it make sense to allocate more assets to the center position?
If Allen could be used in a bigger trade for a third star or swapped for a two-way forward who can play alongside Durant and Jordan, would that be more beneficial to the Nets championship aspirations? On other hand, he could, as Jared Dudley has predicted, make you pay if you give up on him too early.
Will Taurean Prince be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
After inking a two-year, $29-million extension before he ever played a regular season game for the Nets, Taurean Prince’s first season in Brooklyn has been plagued by inconsistency and ineffectiveness. In theory, Prince should be a tough, two-way, combo forward who could approach 40 percent shooting from behind the arc. That was the hope.
Instead, Prince’s shooting splits have dipped dramatically to career lows — 37.6 percent overall and 33.9 percent from three. His effort level has been inconsistent and he often struggles to make the right reads on both ends of the floor.
While he’s talented and could rebound playing a more natural small forward position next to KD and Kyrie next year, is there a risk? Is he someone that a team could rely on to play big or small minutes in an NBA Finals setting?
The other issue working against Prince staying with the Nets is that if they are looking to upgrade the roster without carving into the core too deeply, they might want to include Prince’s contract for salary matching purposes. With all these factors working against Prince, it makes sense that a majority of fans believe Prince’s stop in Brooklyn will be a short stay. On the other hand, Prince has a big fan in Durant!
Will Nic Claxton be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
Coming in with the third highest percentage of “yes” votes is Nic Claxton. Fans always have high hopes for rookies, so that could explain the fans’ overall optimism for Claxton. Claxton also showed a lot of promise in his limited time playing with the Nets this season as well as with his time on Long Island. As a nearly seven foot, versatile big who has the skill to develop just about anything in his game, Claxton could be a secret weapon for Brooklyn to unveil next season or the season after that. Nets have him on a three-year, $4.2 million conract. Keep working, Clax.
Will Wilson Chandler be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
After being suspended for the first 25 games of the season, it took Wilson Chandler a little time to work his way back into rhythm. However, he has quickly become an integral part for the Nets, being a big reason why they’ve been a top-10 defensive team this season. His basketball smarts are evident, he’s multidimensional on both ends of the floor, and has the strength/toughness to battle opposing bigs. The Nets need more players like Chandler not fewer. Like Temple, Chandler is a perfect veteran bench player for a contending team.
However, Chandler will have to accept another minimum deal. He signed a one-year deal last summer. He has non-Bird rights, but don’t expect the Nets to spend more than the minimum on him. Not in this environment.
Will Rodions Kurucs be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
After an impressive rookie campaign where he started 46 games, Rodions Kurucs has been in and out of the rotation this season. His shooting percentages actually look really good this year and display some growth, however, he has been hesitant at times, often caught between deciding to shoot or pass — which sometimes has a tendency to turn into traveling violations.
While Kurucs certainly has a lot of talent, the Nets should be a prime landing spot for veteran ring chasers this summer and could probably find forwards that could be more impactful contributors. Not everyone agrees. John Hollinger thinks he’s the most likely of the young players to be back.
Will Dzanan Musa be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
Through two NBA seasons, Dzanan Musa has yet to show any real promise as an NBA player. He was touted as a skilled offensive player and potential sharpshooter, but it simply hasn’t translated to the NBA floor, yet. With the Nets now pursuing a title, they have limited roster spots to use on development pieces. That could spell trouble for Musa. The Nets will have to decide before the beginning of next season, whenever that is, whether to extend him through a fourth season.
Will Theo Pinson be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
Similarly to Musa, Theo Pinson is two years into his career without much to show for it. He’s lauded for his sideline dancing and overall locker room presence, but his time in Brooklyn might be coming to an end. With expectations rising and the roster spots becoming more competitive, Fans (and I) would be really surprised if Pinson is back with the Nets next season.
Will Timothė Luwawu-Cabarrot be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
Timothė Luwawu-Cabarrot has been a pleasant surprise for the Nets. Originally signed as a two-way player, Luwawu-Cabarrot played himself into a full (if non-guaranteed) NBA deal. Of course, there will be limited development spots available on a contending roster. So will he be on the chopping block? The former first round pick could remain in Brooklyn depending on how things play out.
Will Chris Chiozza be back next season?— Billy Reinhardt (@BillyReinhardt) May 17, 2020
And that leaves us with the fan favorite — Chris Chiozza. The diminutive point guard has found a role with the Nets as a high IQ distributor off the bench, capable of running a team and hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers at a high clip. Again, the Nets will only have so many roster spots that they can allocate to development pieces like Chiozza, but I could very easily see him sticking around as Brooklyn’s third string guard next season, particularly if Dinwiddie is gone.
ALL of this of course is dependent on a lot of things, starting with who the Nets coach will be. Whoever he (or she?) may be, that person along with Sean Marks will have the final word.
What’s your offseason plan? Who’s sticking around and why? Represent yourself in the comments below!
- Ultimate Nets fan survey for 2020: Future outlook, KD’s return and more - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York