It’s getting late in the off-season. By one estimate, there are only 18 open roster spots round the league not counting two-way contracts or training camp invites. The Nets, hamstrung by Kevin Durant’s trade request (or if you like, demand) and uncertainty surrounding Kyrie Irving, still have a lot of decisions to make before camp opens the last week of September.
They currently have only 12 players on guaranteed NBA deals — including KD and Kyrie — as well as a partially guaranteed deal (Edmond Sumner) and a two-way deal (Alondes Williams). That gives them two open roster spots and a two-way deal, a bit of flexibility if a trade emerges for Durant and Irving where the Nets will have to take on additional bodies.
David Duke Jr. remains a restricted free agent who could fit into one of those standard deals or a two-way. As our Chris Milholen has reported, Duke wants a standard deal but the Nets remain unsure, their decision no doubt also effected by what happens with the higher priced talent.
Brooklyn never used its taxpayer MLE at $6.5 million whether because they didn’t see anyone worth it or their unsettled roster caused free agents to look elsewhere. There’s no deadline for signing one or more player using that exception, but there is one on their $6.3 million trade exception from last year’s DeAndre Jordan salary dump. It will expire a week from Friday. (The other three TPEs are all small — between $1.3 million and $2.5 million — and unlikely to play a big role in any trades.)
Then, there’s two possible extensions. As Alex Schiffer reports, Thursday is the first day that the Nets can negotiate with Ben Simmons and Seth Curry on multi-year extensions of their deals.
On Thursday, Ben Simmons and Seth Curry, the two big prizes in February’s Harden trade, are both extension-eligible. Simmons, who will make $35.4 million this upcoming season, is eligible for a two-year extension worth up to $88 million starting in 2025. Curry can be extended for up to four years and $58 million.
Schiffer doesn’t think the Nets will engage in negotiations for big bucks moves at the time. For Simmons, the reasoning is obvious. When he takes the floor (hopefully) in October, he will not have played since June 20, 2021. The Nets will want to see how he fits and whether he’s healthy. Back surgery can be tricky ... and issues often recur. Also, there’s no rush. Simmons is under contract for the next three years at more than $113 million. Plus he’s only just turned 26.
And lost in a lot of off-season hoopla about the two other members of the latest iteration of the “Big Three,” is the Nets’ very strong belief in the 6’11” point guard. Shams Charania, in talking about the Durant ultimatum two days ago also said this about the team’s view of Simmons:
The Nets are incredibly high on Simmons’ return to play following his recovery from back surgery in May, viewing him as a perfect complement around Durant and Irving.
Similarly, Shams’ Athletic colleague Schiffer quoted this Thursday from Sean Marks end-of-season press conference as a reminder of that belief:
“We are doing everything possible we can to get him around our group,” Marks said. “That is the key. He needs to be in here, smell the gym again, around his friends, around his family and to participate in this and let us help him build a culture together. Build up together, build him back up. Because as Steve (Nash) alluded to, he’s a big, big part of this. He fits a lot of holes, plugs a lot of holes that we think we potentially have. With him in, it’s a different dynamic out there.”
Schiffer notes that Curry’s situation is different. He’s on an expiring deal worth $8.5 million this season. He played well for both the 76ers and the Nets, having his best year statistically despite a sore left ankle that also required off-season surgery. He ranks third all-time in regular season 3-point accuracy and fourth in the post-season.
But is he surplus on a team that already has Joe Harris and Patty Mills and this summer added three other wing shooters. T.J. Warren shot 42.8 percent and 40.3 percent in his last two healthy seasons in the NBA and Royce O’Neale shot 38.5 and 38.9 in his last two years. Even Sumner has sterling 3-point numbers, hitting just below 40 percent in his last season with Indiana before tearing his achilles.
The Nets haven’t closed the door on a Curry extension, but there are reasons for both sides to wait. Curry, who could be a strong trade piece at the deadline for a contender as a rental, can’t be traded for six months if he signs the full extension. Curry will turn 32 on Aug. 23, and a four-year deal could be his last big NBA payday, depending on how he plays in the upcoming years. Leaving money on the table with all the uncertainty doesn’t make sense, which is why Curry could always agree to an extension after the trade deadline, should he still be on the Nets.
And as others including Schiffer have written before, the Nets are not interested in moving Harris who is the longest tenured Net, a front office and fan favorite who is just behind Curry on the all-time 3-point percentage list.
Schiffer writes that he can see Curry, on a reasonable expiring deal, possibly being part of a bigger deal involving Durant, perhaps a sweetener to get another club to give up something the Nets want.
When should be expect the Nets start resolving their issues and making moves despite the KD and Kyrie rumors? There are a few intriguing free agents left and the Nets were still filling out their roster the first week of September last year and on the day before the season began two years ago. Reading tea leaves here and there, expect to see some movement next week but of course nothing serious until they know more about the guys at the top of the payroll.
- With Ben Simmons, Seth Curry extensions, will the Nets remain quiet in August? - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic