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With a roster built for stability not flexibility, expect moves at the margins

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Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets - Game Four Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images

There’s a certain reality that escapes a lot of Nets fans. The roster is —and has been— built more for stability not flexibility. Virtually all the teams moves since June of 2019 point in that direction, starting with the “Clean Sweep” and continuing through extensions given Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince, even Nicolas Claxton’s three-year deal,

The Nets have invested a grand total of $426 million in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, LeVert and Prince. Name another team that did that over the course of four months? There’s nothing random about that. That’s a strategy and a long-term one at that!

Sean Marks also added to the evidence by saying the team’s “priority No. 1” is signing Joe Harris to a long-term contract ... not the pursuit of a “third star,” something a number of pundits, from Bobby Marks to Jeff Van Gundy, have dismissed as unnecessary. (We like JVG’s point that a championship contender needs “layers of players” rather than “three stars.”)

And, as Brian Lewis writes Tuesday, the main candidates for the “third star” are unlikely to be available or come with high salaries, big injuries and/or short term contracts, particularly when compared with LeVert.

[T]he Nets’ third-star options are limited. New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday is 30, under contract for $25.3 million next season and can opt out after that. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo came back from a horrible right knee injury to average 14.3 points (worst since his rookie campaign) on career-low shooting splits of 39.4 percent and 31.7 from 3.

And Bradley Beal, the Holy Grail of Third Stars? There’s NO evidence the Wizards will make him available, NO evidence he wants to leave. Lewis quoted Jalen Rose on the possibility, which Lewis described as a “fool’s errand.”

“You already have him under contract. That was the question mark: Can you resign Bradley Beal with John Wall injured at his number? And he committed to stay, so you’re not going to go trade him after he just averaged 30 points this year?”

Moreover, as several writers have pointed out, KD recently spoke about how LeVert has surprised him.

“[LeVert] is definitely better than I thought. He’s different,” Durant said on the Play for Keeps podcast. “He can score that thing. He can pass it, strong, he’s quick.

“His thing is about being efficient, and I think that’s what you’re seeing. The shots he’s taking now, it’s like all in his lane. It’s not a lot of 3s. A lot in the midrange, getting to the cup. I think his IQ is what surprised me the most for the game.”

Sounds like an endorsement to us.

Not to mention the numbers themselves. LeVert averaged 25 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds during the seeding games and bumped that to 20.3 points, 9.5 assists and six boards in the playoffs. As long as he stays healthy, he’s a bargain and under contract till he’s 30 years old.

What about Spencer Dinwiddie? As Bobby Marks noted, his trade value is overestimated by fans. He has a player option at the end of next season. Why would a team send the Nets big assets when he could walk after a year? Keep him, the former Nets assistant GM advises. Similarly, are the Nets going to dump a rapidly improving 22-year-old seven-footer (who is also extremely durable for a big man) when they can simply wait and see where he’s going? You don’t want to make a mistake on him.

The bottom line is that the Brooklyn Nets are in very, very good shape, barring some health issues? Will there be movement on the margins? Will the new coach want to target a favorite player? Sure, but are the Nets headed for some overhaul? It would seem to fly in the face of a very, very expensive strategy. So, for the moment, step away from the trade machine.