We’re a month away from the NBA Draft and and five weeks away from free agency. So let’s speculate! Not wildly of course. That would be wrong. Others are out there today and with the disappointment of an early exit now 10 days behind us, there’s some “stuff” rolling around. So, based on what we’ve picked up here and there, we offer some thoughts...
- The Nets top priority is signing the “Big Three” — all of them — to extensions. Period. Don’t expect an immediate resolution. There’s no pressing deadline and Kevin Durant won’t be returning from Tokyo until mid-August. One big question is whether KD, Kyrie Irving and James Harden would negotiate as a group or as individuals. The Nets would prefer they do things as a group, but remember this is likely to be the last big-money contract all three will sign. Speculation that the Nets might take calls on Kyrie Irving is just that: speculation. There may have been some difficult moments early in the season, but Irving played more games (54) for the Nets than either Kevin Durant (35) or James Harden (36) and had the best season statistically of his career with a 50/40/90 shooting line.
- The Nets have nine free agent decisions this summer (10 if you count the September 4 trigger date for Alize Johnson’s partial guarantee). They’d like to keep Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, Blake Griffin and Mike James at the very least. At this point, Griffin seems the best bet considering his contract situation. a guaranteed $29.8 million payout from the Pistons, and his consistent praise of the organization. Brown’s return is going to depend on how much he can get on the free agent market ... and what the Nets will match. There’s a ceiling to what the Nets will pay. Who knows what it is, but it is certainly below the $8 to $10 million figure being rumored as Brown’s starting salary. It’s hard to imagine Brooklyn paying Brown, say, $9 million. Green wants to be paid more than the vets minimum. Will the Nets part with some of the $6 million taxpayer MLE to keep him? Will he accept the $3.1 million Non-Bird exception? The Nets like James a lot. They’ll try to keep the 30-year-old and he is a restricted free agent. It doesn’t appear that CSKA Moscow will demand a buyout.
- Getting equal value back for Spencer Dinwiddie is no sure thing. There are issues like base year compensation and the hard cap that could complicate a sign-and-trade with a team over the cap ... like the Lakers or Clippers. Reportedly, that’s where wants to wind up. An S&T could wind up as a three-team deal with the Nets getting back a pick and a big trade exception. And if Dinwiddie chooses to sign with a team that has cap space, like the Knicks, the Nets will get nothing in return.
- Brooklyn hopes that the lure of the “Big Three” and the prospect of a ring will permit them to sign veterans at less than market value, maybe even the vets minimum. That’s what happened with Griffin, James and LaMarcus Aldridge. Those signings were decidedly not a one-time “thing.” It’s now part of their strategy, one that’s needed if they keep Joe Tsai’s luxury tax bill outside record territory ... and provide them with long-term roster flexibility.
- Yes, the Nets will rely on the “Big Three” for recommendations on free agents. They did last year. They will again. No surprise and why not? They are who they are and they know the league.
- Expect the Nets to look for other ways to get max value at a minimal price. Don’t be surprised if they sign two of their four picks ... maybe one to a standard deal, one as a two-way. The Nets currently hold the Nos. 27, 44, 49 and 59. Of course, that could change. Also, the Nets are likely to take a long look at bringing over Isaia Cordinier, their 6’5” French stash. He’s told our Alec Sturm that a two-way doesn’t interest him much and he has offers from big Euroleague teams.
- Summer league will likely be more interesting than usual. Nic Claxton, Reggie Perry and Alize Johnson will almost certainly be in Las Vegas starting August 8 presumably along with some of their draft picks and maybe Cordinier and Paul Eboua, the 6’8” Cameroonian-Italian big who played for Long Island last season. Claxton is going into his third NBA season but has played only 47 regular season games because of various injuries. So the Nets want to see more of him, particularly on offense. It’s no big deal for the Nets to have a third year player in the SL. Jarrett Allen also played going into his third season.
- The Nets and Claxton will have a decision to make on an extension starting in 2022-23. The third year player can be extended for an additional four years and up to $55 million. Otherwise, he will be a restricted free agent next summer. No deadline for the extension, per Bobby Marks. The Nets also have until October 18 to extend Landry Shamet, also starting in 2022-23.
- Do we expect a Joe Harris trade? We do not.
We don’t have any names to share on who the Nets might want to sign or trade for. There’s been off-handed speculation that IF, IF Kevin Love (owed $60 million by the Cavs or two) or Al Horford (owed $41.5 million by the Celtics over two) get bought out, they could be on the Nets radar. At this point, however, neither Cleveland nor Boston seem interested in buyouts, each hoping they’ll rebound this season. (Pun intended.)
Finally, this is Sean Marks, one of the NBA’s most aggressive GMs with a record for making deals around the Draft and making unexpected moves in free agency. Enjoy!
- Nets free-agent possibilities, who gets re-signed & prospects for Durant, Harden & Irving contract extensions - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- Nets’ free agency concerns go beyond locking up Big 3 - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Five offseason questions facing the Nets this summer - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Offseason moves for the Brooklyn Nets: Extensions coming for the Big Three? - Bobby Marks - ESPN+