So much to unwrap! After a dramatic Draft Night, in which the Nets made a trade, took FIVE picks and signed two undrafted prospects, more drama awaits. Free agency opens on Monday at 6 p.m. Signings can start on Friday. In the interim, it will be the Woj and Shams Show, with the two competing on player moves. (Steinie, Jake and Chris are likely to get some scoops as well.)
It will a big, big week for the Nets championship ambitions. The “Big Three” are under contract, as is Joe Harris, Nic Claxton, DeAndre Jordan, Alize Johnson and newly acquired Jevon Carter. That’s it. The rest of the roster are free agents. Here’s the breakdown with their status, per Bobby Marks.
- Spencer Dinwiddie | Bird
- Blake Griffin | Non Bird
- Bruce Brown | Restricted | Bird
- Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot | Early Bird
- Jeff Green | Non Bird
- Tyler Johnson | Early Bird
- Reggie Perry | Restricted | Non Bird
- Chris Chiozza | Restricted | Early Bird
- Mike James | Restricted | Non Bird
The biggest names on the list are Dinwiddie who could wind up being signed and traded at any moment and Brown. Their situations are different. It’s long appeared that Dinwiddie wants to run a show and make starters’ money. Both are unlikely in Brooklyn.
So what’s going on with Dinwiddie. Hard to tell, but reports out of Washington as well as national writers suggest that Sean Marks wants to exact a high price for him. Supposedly, the Nets have turned down Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell as not enough. What else does Marks want? Thomas Bryant who did work out with the “Big Three” in L.A. last summer? A future first round pick? A pick swap of this year’s picks? We may have to wait for a while to find out. Dinwiddie’s market probably won’t be set until the Kyle Lowry Sweepstakes is settled. After that, the smoke will clear for him, Dennis Schroeder and others.
Brown, on the other hand, wants to stay but the Nets aren’t likely to match any offer in the rumored $8 million to $10 million starting salary. What’s the Nets matching ceiling? That’s a state secret, but it’s probably around half that range.
Next up is Griffin. Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the Nets are “optimistic” about keeping the popular Griffin. As we’ve noted, Griffin will make $29.8 million this season no matter what anyone else, including the Nets, can offer him. The $29.8 million is what the Pistons will pay Griffin as part of his buyout last March. If he gets a vets minimum or $10 million, that amount would be deducted from the buyout amount — offset. Jake Fischer reported the Heat might also be interested in the 32-year-old but nothing since. Would Griffin want a second year? Probably.
Green turns 35 next month but he had his best season in nearly a decade including a career high 41.1 percent. As he’s said publicly, he’s frustrated with having to sign a series of one-year, vets minimum deal. Any contract he signs this off-season could be his last. So he has ample reason to get a good deal. Woj and Zach Lowe suggested last week that the Bucks might be willing to give him more than the vets minimum and more than a year. The Nets could give him a deal starting at $3.1 million using his Non-Bird Rights.
James is someone the Nets like a lot, but their acquisition of Jevon Carter and drafting of Cam Thomas may complicate things (as would the unlikely return of Dinwiddie.) Last year, before an altercation with his CSKA Moscow coach, James was the second highest paid player in Europe, at $2.5 million, net of taxes. Although he wants back, as he hinted in an interview in L.A. last week, the question is how much he can get. He’s a restricted free agent so if he gets another offer, the Nets can match.
The Nets are limited. They are well over the cap and luxury tax threshold so they will only have the taxpayers MLE, valued at around $6 million, and vets minimum deals for anyone. . Perhaps an S&T for Dinwiddie would yield a large traded player exception. A TPE is good for a year after a trade but can be used immediately.
Who do they like on the market outside their own players? They could use some depth up front. Is it possible, perhaps, they like Thomas Bryant of the Wizards in a Dinwiddie S&T? Maybe they want DeAndre Jordan included? We don’t know, but Bryant did play with the “Big Three” out in L.A. last year. Also, assuming Dinwiddie — and Chris Chiozza — leave, they’ll need a back-up at the point too. Is that James, Carter? Or someone else. Who’s going to replace Landry Shamet as Joe Harris’s back up?
P.J. Tucker has been mentioned as a possible target but it’s hard to see how they can bring him in. Before being traded to the Bucks, Tucker turned down a two-year, $17 million extension from the Rockets, wanting around 50 percent more. It became a big part of the Bucks championship and is likely to return to Milwaukee. David Nwaba? He’s an unrestricted free agent and both sides are familiar with each other.. Might they break up their TMLE into pieces to give players more than the vets minimum? That’s one way to get value. They did that with Alize Johnson last year. His three-year, non-guaranteed deal at just over the vets minimum was carved out of the TLME.
And what about Saturday’s rumor from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report...
Bryn Forbes parted ways with Milwaukee after not playing in the last three games of the Finals, and league sources said the Brooklyn Nets are believed to be a leading candidate for him. Other teams to keep an eye on: Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas and New Orleans.
Bobby Marks thinks Forbes salary range is between $4 million and $6 million, which would fit right into the TMLE. Would the Nets be better served by using the TMLE on a back-up center? Forbes is 28 and had shooting splits of 47/45/77 but didn’t play in the last three games of the Finals.
So, should we expect trades other than a possible S&T for Dinwiddie (and/or maybe Brown?) Again, the Nets are limited. Of course, people thought the Nets were limited Thursday night too. The conventional wisdom — that the Nets had no picks after the Harden trade — was turned on its head and they came away with five picks, including one who was expected to go 10 places higher, Cam Thomas. In Marks we trust. It’s worked so far.
One crucial point on the free agent market: In speaking with an agent last week, he said players are likely to be surprised at how much the market’s changed as a result of the pandemic. This isn’t 2019, he said. A lot of teams lost a lot of money particularly in small markets although some big markets were affected too. Players, he lamented, don’t fully understand that. So, there might even be some surprise bargains.
Finally, is there a connection between the Nets acquiring the rights to five picks last week and free agency? Could be. Maybe draft rights will become currency in a trade. Just this morning, Jake Fisher of Bleacher Report suggested the Nets are still trying to find a way to move DeAndre Jordan off the roster.
Sean Marks is unsentimental when it comes to doing what he feels is necessary to build a championship roster. He traded two of the most popular (and homegrown) Nets in Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen six months ago because he saw Harden as a game-changer. We shall see.
Boys of Summer (League)
Start counting. The Summer League roster seems close to being set assuming all of the Draft picks are around next week. To start, there will be a trio of returning players from this past season’s roster:
- Nic Claxton, 6’11” center/power forward
- Alize Johnson, 6’8” combo forward
- Reggie Perry, 6’9” power forward/center
There’s also Jordan Bowden, the 6’5” combo guard who played for Long Island last year. The five picks all look like they’re headed to Las Vegas as well. That would be
- Cam Thomas, 6’4” shooting guard
- Day’Ron Sharpe, 6’11” center
- Kessler Edwards, 6’8” small forward
- Marcus Zegarowski, 6’3” shooting guard, and
- RaiQuan Gray, 6’8” power forward
Finally, from what we know, there are two undrafted prospects who’ve gotten invitations to Las Vegas:
- David Duke Jr. 6’5” combo guard out of Providence and
- Brandon Rachal, 6’6” forward out of Tulsa.
Do you see a pattern there? Yup, lots of bigs and not a point guard among them. Bowden and Duke are combo guards. Thomas is not. He’s a bucket getter. He had six games out (of 19) when he didn’t register a single assist and another eight with only one assist. So we have to think the Nets will press Duke or Bowden into the PG role or more likely find someone else. Could that be Isaia Cordinier, the 6’5” French stash?
The young Nets will be coached this time by Jordan Ott who’s been a Nets assistant since 2016 when Kenny Atkinson brought him aboard. He’d worked with Atkinson in Atlanta and with the Dominican Republic national team before joining Brooklyn. He’ll be assisted by two Brazilians, Tiago Splitter who does player development and some scouting for the Nets, and Jose Neto, a legendary coach in South America and Africa.
It’s become a tradition for the Nets to bring in an international coach during the SL, but none have had Neto’s resume.’ He’s won national league championships in Brazil and Angola, the west African hoops hotbed, being named coach of the year in both countries. He’s also coached the Angola entry in the NBA’s new Basketball Africa League and is head coach of the Brazilian women’s national team. He was also, at one point, the head coach of a team in Japan League. So his Nets gig will give him coaching experience on four continents!
The Nets open their five-game Summer League schedule a week from Monday at 5 p.m. ET vs. the Grizzlies. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Draft Sleeper of the Week
We looked at five sleeper picks before the Draft and hit on one: Day’Ron Sharpe last week. Missed on the others: Sandro Mamukelashvili, J.T. Thor, Isaiah Jackson, and Daishen Nix. Other than Sharpe, only Jackson was a first round pick, going to the Wizards at 22. He was then traded to Indiana. Nix went undrafted. He’ll play for the 76ers in Summer League.
We like the picks of Cam Thomas, who the Nets took seven spots below where he’d been projected, and Sharpe who was the consensus pick for the Nets over the last month. Both by the way are among the youngest players ever taken by the Nets, still several months short of their 20th birthdays.
But we also like Kessler Edwards, the 6’8” forward out of Pepperdine, a 3-and-D possibility at the NBA level. He had been projected end of the first/beginning of the second and wound up at No. 44. As Gary Parrish of CBS Sports wrote Friday in giving the Nets an A+ for the pick...
I was more in on Edwards than just about anyone, so it won’t be a surprise to hear me say this is incredible value for the Nets. I had a first round grade on Edwards because of his positional size and scoring ability. He has all the tools to step in and be a contributor on a Nets team primed to compete for a title next season.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony liked what he brings as well, writing in April...
The 20-year-old Edwards is intriguing to NBA teams due to his combination of size, defensive versatility, and outside shooting. He converted 40% of his 3-pointers on his college career while ranking as one of the best free throw shooters in the country this season at 88%. He shows outstanding awareness defensively off the ball and covers a great deal of ground on the perimeter, posting 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals per-40 minutes in his time at Pepperdine.
Givony projected Edwards as “a versatile two-way wing/forward who can space the floor and defend multiple positions.”
Does that sound like a Sean Marks pick to you? It does to us. Here’s some video highlights of him...
One final Draft Night note: It was another great night for the U19 FIBA World Cup champions from two years ago. After having two of their number, Kira Lewis and Tyrese Halliburton taken in the lottery last year, another six were selected in this year’s lottery: the top five picks — Cade Cunningham, Josh Green, Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs — as well as the 10th pick, Ziaire Williams. Jermiah Robinson-Earl was taken in the second round.
Heck, three players who were cut from that team, including Edwards, were drafted Thursday night! And as we’ve said before, the MVP of that tournament was Reggie Perry. Time to reclaim that crown.
Sonny Khan is the founder and director of the Paani Project, the NGO Kyrie Irving worked with in setting up a solar-powered water plant in the tiny Pakistani village of Rohal last week. Rohal has suffered through a 17-year drought. It was a yarn that caught our eye and so we spoke to Khan, a big Kyrie fan who got him involved. Good story.
It didn’t end there. On Friday, we got a DM from Khan, one of the most endearing we’ve ever received in the 16 year history of the site. It read...
Hey just felt the need to share -but two people donated solar water centers after they saw the story on NetsDaily/SBNation. So now In about 2 months 2000+ more people are gonna be getting water access because of an article that sparked it. Thanks so much.
We are honored and humbled by the news. It’s not often that you can affect people’s lives even if indirectly. The donors were anonymous but no doubt Nets fans. Whoever you are, thank you.
One other thing: we don’t like Kyrie Irving in spite of his outspoken nature, his ability to generate controversy. That’s a Boston thing. We like him because of it.