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With Paul Millsap signing, Nets roster now at 16 ... with still more decisions to come

The Nets announced Friday morning that they have signed Paul Millsap, presumably to the vets minimum which will pay the 36-year-old $2.6 million and give the Nets 16 standard NBA contracts as well as one two-way deal.

Millsap was in Brooklyn yesterday, posting a video of HSS Training Center, as the team is in town for workouts prior to Media Day in Brooklyn September 27 and the opening of training camp one day later in San Diego.

The 6’7”, 260-pound power forward reportedly considered the Warriors, Bulls and Clippers before agreeing to sign with the Nets last weekend. For the first time since his second year in the league in 2007-08, Millsap failed to average double figures in scoring last season when with Denver. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in 56 games for Denver, losing his starting role to Aaron Gordon after the trade deadline. For his 15-year career, Millsap has averaged 13.7 points, 7.2 boards and 2.2 assists. His shooting splits last season — 48/34/72 — mirror his career numbers. He’s been one of the NBA’s most durable players...

With the signing and yesterday’s waiver of Jahlil Okafor, the Nets are officially at 16 roster spots — all but one fully guaranteed — and one two-way. Although the Nets must get down to 15 roster players and two two-ways by Opening Night, October 19, they can bring 20 players to camp, which starts September 28.

The Nets now face a number of smaller decisions having already replenished their bench and added a number of veterans including Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills.

  • First up, the Nets must decide by Saturday where to stretch Okafor’s $2.6 million cap hit which would put $710,000 in dead money on the salary cap through 2023-24. Stretching Okafor would save them $6.7 million in luxury taxes after the DeAndre Jordan trade saved them $47 million.
  • Who will be the final cut getting the Nets down to 15 roster spots? DeAndre’ Bembry has a partially guaranteed vets minimum deal. The 6’5” defensive specialist received a $750,000 guarantee when he was signed a month ago. That will jump to $1.25 million on December 15, then become fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster January 10. There’s also speculation that Sekou Doumbouya, the big return in the Jordan trade, might have to fight for a roster spot. The 6’9” Frenchman, seven years younger than Bembry, will be paid $3.6 million this season, all of it guaranteed. The Nets also have until October 18 to exercise his fourth year rookie contract option that would pay him $5.5 million in 2022-23.
  • Will the Nets go into the season with a full roster? Sean Marks said on August 7 that he might want the flexibility of keeping the final, 15th spot open. That, of course, was before he was able to get Millsap to agree to a vets minimum deal, before LaMarcus Aldridge was cleared medically and signed, before DeAndre Jordan was traded to Detroit, bringing back Doumbouya and Okafor.
  • When will the Nets extend Kyrie Irving and James Harden? Marks promised he would have them “signed, sealed and delivered” by the opening of training camp (in San Diego.) Combined with Kevin Durant’s extension, signed just before the Olympics began, would commit the Nets to paying the “Big Three” a grand total of $540 million through 2026.
  • Will Nets extend Nic Claxton who is eligible for a four-year, $50 million deal? Otherwise, he will become a restricted free agent at the end of 2021-22 which could become an expensive proposition if he makes big strides.
  • Who will be the second two-way deal? The Nets signed second round pick Kessler Edwards, a 6’8” 3&D possibility, last month. Historically, the Nets have signed players late in camp. Among the candidates are David Duke Jr. who signed an Exhibit 10 training camp deal after going undrafted in July; the Nets other second rounders, Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray; either of their two G League veterans, Jordan Bowden or Quinndary Weatherspoon; or French stash Isaia Cordinier, reportedly in for a tryout this week.
  • Will the Nets sign Zegarowski and Gray directly to G League contracts. That would preserve their Draft rights and keep them off the 15-man roster and the salary cap ... but would force them to take a G League salary.
  • Will the Nets use either of their two trade exceptions generated in the Spencer Dinwiddie sign-and-trade ($11.45 million) and the Jordan salary dump ($6.27 million.) The exceptions, two of three largest in franchise history, will expire in a year. The Nets are unlikely to use the full exceptions considering their huge luxury tax bill, but they can be broken into pieces to facilitate a trade or claim a player off waivers following the trade deadline. (The Nets also generated a small, virtually inconsequential $118,342 TPE from the Landry Shamet for Jevon Carter trade.)
  • Who will start for the Nets when the season opens in Milwaukee October 19 vs. the defending champion Bucks? Both Millsap and Aldridge can fill up front court positions and KD could move to the 3. Plenty of time for that decision.

Don’t expect all of those decisions anytime soon. The Nets have time. Two years ago, for example, they added Timothe’ Luwawu-Cabarrot as the second two-way on Opening Night. Of course, bottom line is that the Nets had one of, if not the, best, off-seasons in the NBA.