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Next steps for Nets will likely be expensive ones, but they’ve been willing to pay so far

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The rumors about J.J. Redick being shopped to the Nets (as well as the Knicks, 76ers and Celtics) got Alex Schiffer and Danny LeRoux of The Athletic thinking: with the highest paid trio in league history in the fold, will the Nets be willing to spend on complementary pieces when the price will be very high?

There’s been no evidence —or suggestion for that matter— that Joe Tsai is unwilling to pay the price. Trading away a good portion of the future for James Harden has already been costly. Even with the luxury tax reduced because of the drop in NBA revenues, Tsai will have to transfer at least $50 million in taxes come August.

Moreover, there is a less discussed but highly relevant point to be made about the trade. Presumably, the Nets made the move to help secure long-term commitments from Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. That will be historically expensive. Yossi Gozlan, USA Today’s capologist, laid out just how expensive new extensions could be for the “Big Three.” Sticker stock doesn’t begin to express the enormity of it all.

Gozlan, in a Hoopshype podcast with Mike Scotto, laid out what maximum extensions would look like... including what the max numbers would be in 2025-26, when they’d be between 33 and 37 years old.

Harden: three years, $161.1 million

2026: $57.7 million

Durant: four years, $197.7 million

2026: $54.7 million

Irving: four years, $181.6 million

2026: $50.5 million

That’s three $50 million players on the same team in 2026, Marks couldn’t say whether Durant, Harden and Irving would accept new deals.

“I don’t know if they’re going to accept them,” he said earlier this month talking with WFAN’s Evan Roberts and Craig Carton. “We want these guys to stick around, we want them to build here, we want them to be part of something in Brooklyn.”

As Schiffer wrote, Marks new buzz word is “sustainability.” But closer in on the horizon, there are other issues, like how the Nets could use their two exceptions, the taxpayers MLE and the DPE granted after Spencer Dinwiddie went down.

There’s no guarantee that either —both are worth around $5.7 million, will be used. The MLE can get used at any time during the season, the DPE expires on April 19, ten days after the so-called buyout deadline, the last day players can be waived and still qualify for the playoffs. LeRoux pointed out some key differences.

First, Marks still has his mid-level exception, which can only be used to sign a free agent. The taxpayer MLE starts off worth $5.7 million but pro-rates, meaning the value decreases bit by bit as the season progresses. Brooklyn can sign players for up to three seasons using the taxpayer MLE and split it between multiple free agents if desired, likely as a way to offer them more than their minimum. At this point, the most logical use of the MLE is for players who get bought out later in the season since it allows the Nets to offer more money than other competitors, which can matter depending on the situation.

Second, Marks has a $5.7 million disabled player exception for Spencer Dinwiddie, who tore his torn ACL three games into the season. The rules with this exception are different: Marks can only use the DPE, which expires April 19, on a single player, but it can be either a free agent or someone acquired via trade, as long as the contract expires at the end of this season, meaning no options and no non-guarantees.

Using either would add to the luxury tax. Offering the DPE to a player who gets bought out —someone like Redick or Andre Drummond— would be “enticing,” LeRoux adds. Normally, such players get offered the vets minimum by teams seeking their services. Giving them more than that, on top of the possibility of a long playoff run, could make the Nets very attractive.

Talking specifically about Redick, LeRoux doesn’t think there would be the presumed overlap with Joe Harris. He thinks the reverse could be true.

I would actually be thrilled to have both Harris and Redick on the team. While they overlap, shooters often make life easier on each other, and it allows Steve Nash to have an effective niche shooter in at all times.

LeRoux didn’t mention Landry Shamet, whose defense and playmaking give him some advantages over Redick and while Shamet is nowhere near as experienced as Redick, their career 3-point shooting percentages are not that far apart. Shamet’s is 39.3 percent, Redick is 41.4. (After his career-best eight three’s on Sunday, Harris is at 43.2.)

While the two reporters had a vigorous discussion of whether a Spencer Dinwiddie-for-Redick would make sense, would it? The rumors of Redick’s availability appear to be coming from his camp. He’d no doubt love to play in Brooklyn, his off-season home, but even with his partially torn ACL, Dinwiddie is a more valuable asset both as a player and a trade piece. The Nets currently don’t need Redick. Nor, LeRoux speculates, do the Pelicans need to buy out Redick. They’re already under the cap. They’re in no rush to let him go.

Still, Schiffer doesn’t think we shall see Dinwiddie in a Nets uniform again but holds out some hope.

I would be stunned if Dinwiddie plays again for the Nets. This offseason represents his best chance to get paid, and I think there will be a market for him. The one thing that makes me wonder is if Dinwiddie opts into his 2021-22 player option as a “prove it” type of year, or if he’s not hearing the numbers he wants for a deal ahead of free agency. Dinwiddie’s absence has been dearly missed in Brooklyn this season, and I think he would do a lot for a Nets team in need of depth.

Getting back to money, LeRoux notes that if Dinwiddie does opt in to his $12.3 million player option, the tax bill will soar again.

[A] Dinwiddie opt-in would put the Nets at $166.5 million in guaranteed salary owed to eight players. We have a pretty good expectation that the 2021-22 luxury-tax line will be $136.6 million, so just those eight players would put them about $30 million over with an eye-popping $84 million tax bill before filling out the roster, which would be hilariously expensive.

Still not as eye-popping as what Tsai’s predecessor, Mikhail Prokhorov, paid out in 2014. That remains the record, $90.6 million.

And suppose the “Big Three” don’t match up to Sean Marks championship expectations? Schiffer thinks he’d go back to the drawing board. He is, after all, as unsentimental as they come when you’re talking about making moves.

Marks already built the Nets into a contender without any first-round picks, and I have a hard time seeing him being inclined to do it again. If things start to go south and become unfixable, I think he will do all he can to move them and get maximum value in return.

What the chances of that? Hard to imagine it, at this point, but a lot of things are often hard to imagine, like the Nets acquiring three of the top 10 players in the NBA. That happened.