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EARLY READ: What’s next for Brooklyn? Expect a LOT of decisions

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Brooklyn Nets Introduce D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov during a Press Conference Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The bottom line for the Nets off-season is that even without trades or buyouts, Sean Marks and his team, as well as Joe Tsai, will have a LOT of decisions to make. The Nets front office has proven that they find and develop players who others discarded and build a championship contender. The next goals are getting over that hump ... and sustaining success in Brooklyn for the long term.

The first and foremost decision will be whether to extend the “Big Three” and for how long ... assuming they will want to stay long-term.

The Nets can open negotiations for four-year extensions with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden this summer as well as Nic Claxton, all starting in 2022-23.

The “Big Three” extensions could max out at $252.8 million (Harden); $234.5 million (Durant) and $217.0 million (Irving).

Don’t expect the Nets and the “Big Three” to begin talks immediately. One big question is whether the three will want to negotiate as individuals or a group. The latter would be the better option for the team since it could provide the Nets with some salary flexibility. That’s how the Nets were able to sign KD, Irving and DeAndre Jordan within the salary cap.

The Nets can also extend Nic Claxton this summer and Landry Shamet before the start of next season. Like the “Big Three” deals, they would start in 2022-23.

Thus far, Tsai has shown a willingness to pay what’s needed —provide Marks with the resources — for the future. There’s every indication that he knows what things will cost and he is a man of considerable means, about $13 billion which is about $4 billion more than he had four years ago when he agree to buy in.

All those decisions can wait a bit. More urgently, the Nets have to make decisions on nine free agents starting in August. The list: Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, Mike James, Chris Chiozza, Reggie Perry, Timothe Lawuwu-Cabarrot, Tyler Johnson and Blake Griffin all have contracts that end this summer. In addition, Spencer Dinwiddie has a player option he is likely to decline tomorrow, as Woj reported Sunday morning. No surprise.

What are some of those free agents saying about their futures?

Griffin said post-game “I’m still happy with my decision (to come to Brooklyn)” but declined to go further. “The game ended an hour ago. Have not even thought about that.”

The six time All-Star will make $29.8 million next season from his Pistons buyout no matter what he gets from another team, whether that’s the Nets or someone else. One issue in negotiations with the 32-year-old could be the length of his contract.

Similarly, Bruce Brown said he’d like to stick around Brooklyn, but also was non-committal.

“I hope I’m here. I know my contract is up, but I hope I’m staying in Brooklyn,” said Brown. “I love playing with these guys, they made me better this year. I worked on a lot of things. I’ve got a lot to work on this summer and I will get better. But I hope I’m here, for sure.”

The question is how much is Brooklyn willing to give Brown, considering all their other commitments. There have been reports that he could command a starting salary of $9 million on the free agent market. It’s hard to imagine the Nets matching that. Brown is a restricted free agent.

What might Nets do in free agency with all those decisions pending? There has been some speculation that if the Celtics buy out Al Horford, he could find a home in Brooklyn. And the Nets could engage in sign-and-trade talks using Dinwiddie as bait. Reportedly, the Nets were engaged in talks at the deadline with the Warriors that would have sent the point guard to Golden State for Kelly Oubre and to Los Angeles and the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma.

Per Bobby Marks in an ESPN+ analysis Sunday morning...

A sign-and-trade deal with a team that doesn’t have significant cap space is an option, but that would require Brooklyn to take back salary in the trade, adding to an already high luxury tax bill. Brooklyn has a projected $53.4 million tax bill and would see that number double if the Nets took back $12 million in salary.

As of now, per Spotrac, the Nets are $56 million over the cap, $38 million over the luxury tax threshold. That could easily grow. If they want to sign journeymen free agents or development prospects, they’ll have the taxplayers mid-level exception available.

Beyond the free agency decisions, the Nets have some team options to deal with starting in September on Alize Johnson whose three-year deal is non-guaranteed. And might Brooklyn consider buying out Jordan who’s owed $20 million beyond this season? Steve Nash didn’t play Jordan a single minute after May 8. Whether to buy him out seems a legitimate question, even if he is a good friend of Durant and Irving.

The Nets currently have four picks in the 2021 Draft, but only one, the 28th pick, would seem likely to produce a prospect who could crack the Nets roster. The other are at Nos. 44, 49 and 59. Expect to see some of them used as sweeteners in a Draft Night deal or on a Euro stash or two. The Nets could also package them to get a second in the years where their first is owed to Houston.

The Nets will take a look at whoever they draft in Summer League which starts August 7. Expect Claxton, Perry and Alize Johnson to be on hand in Las Vegas. There’s also reporting that 6’5” wing Isaia Cordinier, the Nets French stash, and 6’8” power forward Paul Eboua, who played for Long Island, could get invites.

Several Nets could wind up in the Olympics which run from July 23 through August 8. Six Nets were included in the preliminary pool of players for Team USA. Dinwiddie is expected play for Nigeria.

In other words, life will go on on the top floor of 168 39th Street in Brooklyn. That level of planning is what got them the “Big Three”, Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and role players who helped this season. Expect them to to do the same this year.