It’s December 15, the day when most of the players signed this off-season are finally eligible to be traded. Some who got big raises — like Mo Bamba — won’t be eligible for another month. In addition to the availability of last off-season’s free agents, teams are about a third of the way through the season, a good time to re-evaluate needs and opportunities.
Not that a trade is going to happen Thursday or Friday. As Bobby Marks noted in his primer, the last time a trade took place on October 15 was in 2010 when the Nets front office that included him dealt Terrence Williams to the Houston Rockets in a three-way deal that land them Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and a pair of first-round draft picks.
For the Nets, or at least their fans, the big needs are for back-ups at center and combo guard (despite the performance and promise of Day’Ron Sharpe and Cam Thomas in Saturday’s signature win.) There are other issues as well, like whether the Nets should entertain any offer made for Kyrie Irving. Then, there’s Sean Marks ability to surprise.
That said, there appear (as of Thursday morning) to be no real rumors about imminent moves and probably with the Nets winning four straight, eight of their last nine, 11 of their last 14 and 15 of 22 under Jacque Vaughn, there shouldn’t be. It seems more a time to take stock than to start selling it. Irving is fully engaged and playing his best basketball and Kevin Durant ... well, we know who he is. He is Kevin Durant. Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry and T.J. Warren are health(ier) and as of Thursday morning, the injury report seems clean which would be a first in three years!
Yes, Shams Charania, Jake Fischer and Ian Begley have all written in recent days that the Nets have checked in on John Collins, but specifics are in short supply other than Joe Harris fits under the trade machine. Indeed, both Charania and Fischer have pooh-poohed the prospect of a Collins-for-Joe Harris deal. Fischer. writing Thursday, adds that the Nets interest in Collins goes way back and nothing’s happened:ng’s ha
In recent seasons, the Hawks approached Brooklyn about swapping Collins for Joe Harris. But at this juncture, as Harris still returns to form from ankle surgery that cost most of his 2021-22 season, Atlanta has not presently shown interest in that package, sources said.
For the record, Fischer doesn’t even mention Brooklyn in his analysis of Jakob Poetl’s future, citing the Raptors and Bulls ... as well as a return to the Spurs next summer ... as the most likely scenarios.
Alex Schiffer in his mailbag Friday seems to be suggesting the same, telling fans to take a deep breath. After doing due diligence on rumors on Collins, Bamba and Poetl, Schiffer thinks trades for any of those three would be difficult and instead poses another name not mentioned by fans:
In terms of other targets (beyond Bamba,) I would say Jakob Poeltl or Myles Turner would be tremendous additions, but I don’t think the Nets have the assets for them. Here’s a wild idea I had the other week watching the Hornets: Nick Richards, who hails from The Patrick School, Irving’s alma mater. He’s averaging nine points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Hornets and has been a bright spot in an otherwise bad start to the season so far. His deal is very team friendly. Right now, everyone is talking about a big trade for a known name and maybe the move is a smaller one for a player they think they can get more out of.
Richards is a legit 7-footer and only 25 years old. He is owed $1.8 million this season with a qualifying offer of $2.2 million in 2023-24. The Athletic writer doesn’t speculate on a trade package although one would think Charlotte would require a first rounder at least and as we noted in our Draft Watch, the Nets don’t have many of those.
Schiffer also thinks that an Irving departure after this season is not, as one might have thought last month, a certainty. He would not rule it out:
I don’t think it’s a lock the Nets let Irving walk. Finding a replacement for his production is easier said than done. To me, it could become a situation where neither side has a much better option. Even if the Lakers want Irving, who can the Nets get back in a sign-and-trade that helps them? The Lakers roster is nothing to brag about after LeBron James and Anthony Davis. And even if Irving keeps up his current play the rest of the season, is that enough for the Nets to get close to an even return on a deal? I’m not sure.
He is not alone in that thinking. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report writes Friday that he cannot see the Nets moving Irving before the February 9 trade deadline, that Marks et all are likely to t kick the proverbial can down the proverbial road. A big reason is his chemistry with KD::
The Brooklyn Nets have stabilized after a tumultuous start to the season. Kyrie Irving’s tenure with the Nets may end after this season, but several sources believe the team will ride it out.
“The last thing they want is to inspire another [Kevin Durant] trade demand,” one executive said.
The market for Irving may be a team of one (the Lakers), but he still makes the list of interesting players to watch.
Indeed, as Barbara Barker of Newsday wrote earlier this week, things have changed...
Given the mess that the Nets were in at the beginning of the season, it seemed only a few weeks ago that it was almost a fait accompli that the Nets would attempt to blow up the team before the trading deadline.
And then this happened: The Nets started playing together as a team ... it’s getting harder and harder to remain in the blow-the-whole-thing-up camp.
Of course, things can change. One Woj Bomb can brighten or ruin your whole day. Plenty of time. There are still 56 days till the deadline. Best to remain calm.