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Would Nets dump their first rounder again? Under what circumstances?

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Villanova v Xavier Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

In a discussion of the Nets draft pick, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie tells colleague Alex Schiffer that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Nets once again dumped its first round pick to conserve cap and roster space ... BUT only under limited circumstances.

Vecenie, The Athletic’s draftnik, basically dismissed the idea that the Nets should dump the pick to save money. He pointed out the No. 20 pick would only add $1.8 million to the Nets cap next season, not a significant number in the Nets larger financial picture. Moreover, Joe Tsai has said he’d be willing to pay the luxury tax to help the Nets contend for a championship. Vecenie also said that he wouldn’t send out the first in a salary dump just to get rid of Taurean Prince.

Instead, says Vecenie, the Nets should think about two scenarios where it might be wise to move the pick not so much because of cap concerns, but because of the Draft’s mediocrity.

First, I wouldn’t mind using it to move out of this draft and into a future draft. If a team is willing to move a protected 2021 or 2022 first-round pick for the No. 20 overall pick this year, I’d be interested in that since I don’t really love this crop of players for the Nets. Kicking the asset can down the road a bit would also help with the cap situation slightly.

He also suggested that if in the unlikely Joe Harris becomes too expensive for the Nets taste, they could offer the pick in a trade for a replacement shooter.

Second, I think the Nets should be interested in potentially using the pick to try to find a lower-cost alternative to Harris, who will likely command eight figures in free agency this offseason after another strong year. For instance, a player who made sense to me was Luke Kennard. The Pistons went down the road this spring with the Suns on a Kennard deal involving the Suns’ first-round pick, which was slated at the time to be around No. 11. Is it possible the Nets could package the pick with Nic Claxton (who I had as a first-round graded player in last year’s draft), Dzanan Musa (who I’m not quite as high on), or Rodions Kurucs (whose misdemeanor assault case is still pending) to acquire Kennard?

As for a Prince salary dump, Vecenie thinks it’s not necessary, that Prince’s two-year, $25 million extension which starts this year is not so onerous.

I also don’t see Prince’s deal as an albatross either, given that it’s only a two-year deal. I get that he was bad this past year — making him certainly an underwater asset — but I’d rather bet on an offensive and shooting rebound from him off the bench, even if I think he might be a lost cause on defense.

Bottom line for Vecenie is that absent any extreme circumstances —and in spite of the draft’s mediocrity— the Nets should go for it.

If there is someone on the board at No. 20 who the Nets think can grow with the core of this team while being on a rookie scale deal over the next four years, I’d rather them just prioritize selecting that player.

Like many pundits, Vecenie and Schiffer talk about the Nets big needs being a wing defender and back-ups at point guard and upfront. On the free agent front, Vecenie, like John Hollinger before him, suggests names: Kent Bazemore, Glenn Robinson III and Thabo Sefolosha among veterans and Damyean Dotson, Semi Ojeleye and Sterling Brown among younger, relatively cheap prospects. He also thinks Markieff Morris would be an ideal 4/5 and thinks Taj Gibson, a Brooklyn native who got a lot of money from the Knicks last year could work.

As for finding a big in the draft, Vecenie notes the Nets already have Nicolas Claxton. He may not be ready for a couple of years but why go for a big in the draft when Claxton is only 21?

I’m a huge Claxton fan. I had him at No. 21 on my big board last year with a pretty firm first-round grade. I thought it was an enormous steal to get him at No. 31, and I named him my favorite second-round pick last year the day after the draft. His length and ability to contest shots on the interior, while also being able to slide his feet and defend on the perimeter, is a rare skill set. It portends the potential ability to close games with this team in a couple of years, as long as the offensive game comes along...

He’s right along the track I thought he would be at this stage. I’d anticipate that next year he’ll play a bit more of a role. By his third year, he will likely be a genuinely useful part of the Nets’ rotation as they’re competing.

Sooo, who does Vecenie like for the Nets whenever the Draft takes place. There’s a lot of discussion about two 6’8” forwards we’ve reported on: Patrick Williams of Florida State and Saddiq Bey of Villanova. Of the two, he seems to like Bey more and thinks he could be there at No. 20.

I’d like Saddiq Bey a lot if he fell to them at No. 20, which I think is possible. Teams are split on his athleticism. Some really worry that it’s going to hinder him a lot on defense. Others look at the fact that he moved into a bit more of a ball-handling role this year, was highly switchable on defense, and believe he’d be valuable. Honestly, if he’s on the board at No. 20, I think Brooklyn should run to the podium. He fits a lot of the skill sets they should be looking for.

If the Nets decide to go for a point guard —or if Bey and Williams are gone, Vecenie has some ideas there as well. He lists Payton Pritchard,of Oregon, Tyrell Terry of Stanford, Malachi Flynn of Kansas, Cassius Winston of Michigan State or Grant Riller of the College of Charleston. He also thinks Josh Green, a 6’6” combo guard out of Arizona might appeal to the Nets. “I bet his name comes up,” said Vecenie.

As for the second round, Vecenie thinks that Nets are likely to dump it. With the Nets roster mostly set, Vecenie thinks there’s no room. Of course, the Nets used their second last year to take Jaylen Hands out of UCLA, then stashed him on the Long Island roster.

As for Hands, Vecenie says, “I don’t really think he’s a future NBA player.” The Nets retain their draft rights to Hands.

The Nets don’t have either of their own picks this year. They have the 76ers pick in the first round and the Clippers pick in the second, both acquired on Draft Night last night in a salary dump to conserve cap space for free agency. In fact, the last time the Nets went into the Draft with their own first and second round picks was ten years ago.