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Marks down to final few spots ... Will there be a surprise, a trade maybe?

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The Nets, as of Tuesday night, the Nets seem to be down to the final few roster spots ... barring a trade of course.

Assuming the Markieff Morris deal goes through (the agreement was pending a physical), the Nets will have:

  • 12 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts;
  • two on a partially guaranteed contract (Edmond Sumner and Markieff Morris);
  • one on non-guaranteed contract (Yuta Watanabe);
  • one on a two-way contract (Alondes Williams);
  • one on an Exhibit 10 contract (Donovan Williams).

The Nets and David Duke Jr. have yet to agree to a deal — the Nets would prefer giving him a second two-way deal; he wants a standard deal — but putting that aside, the Nets now have 17 players under some sort of contract. That’s three short of the 20 maximum an NBA team can bring to training camp, which begins with Media Day on September 26.

In the last week, after the Nets and Kevin Durant agreed to “continue their partnership,” the Nets agreed to sign Watanabe, Morris and Donovan Williams, the first two, as Alex Schiffer of The Athletic reports, have connections to the Nets. It’s about familiarity and insurance:

Watanabe has only averaged 3.8 points per game for his career on 41 percent shooting. But he has the makings of a classic Marks project: an international player with the ability to grow into a respectable role like Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot in 2020. The Nets don’t need to rely on Watanabe to score on a team with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Simmons, T.J. Warren, Joe Harris and Seth Curry, but given all the attrition Brooklyn has seen in recent years, every roster spot has proven to be important at one point or another.

Morris offers similar insurance. The Philadelphia native and Kansas product missed months last season with the Heat after injuring his neck when Nikola Jokić shoved him in the back in in early November. Morris returned in March, but played sparingly, logging fewer than four minutes total in Miami’s 18-game playoff run. Morris’ signing with Brooklyn is a reunion for him. A decade ago, his rookie year in Phoenix coincided with current Nets coach Steve Nash’s final year playing in the desert...

Newly hired assistant coach Igor Kokoškov was on Alvin Gentry’s bench that season, too, giving Morris another familiar face on the team.

Of course, we’re talking about players at the end of the roster who under certain circumstances may not even make the team. What matters is the “Big Three” finally appear settled.

All that said, there’s always the possibility of a trade adding or subtracting players from the roster before camp begins ... or even before the season. Luwawu-Cabarrot, for example, was signed to a two-way on Opening Night three years ago.

As of now, Joe Tsai’s combined payroll and luxury tax load is approaching $300 million. The Nets payroll is now just short of $185 million and the tax is just short of $100 million ($99.3 million per Yossi Gozlan of Hoopshype.)

Could the Nets do a deal, maybe add a big and subtract a shooter? Or add a point guard? Sure. Schiffer points out that Dennis Schroeder, who’s playing well for Team Germany at FIBA Europe, has connections in Nets front office.

Both Andy Birdsong and Jeff Peterson, Marks’ assistant GMs, were with the German point guard in Atlanta as members of the Hawks’ front office.

And Schiffer also wonders aloud whether Sean Marks would be interested in reuniting with Bojan Bogdanovic who’s reportedly being marketed by Danny Ainge in Utah.

On The Athletic podcast with David Aldridge, Kristian Winfield suggested the most likely trade would be for a center ... but conceded the Nets are ready to go with Nic Claxton.

“So, I think that either A. we are going to see Nic Claxton start, or B. the Nets are going to use that mid-level or trade for another center. I’m pretty sure they are still trying to trade for a center. I’m just not sure who at this point. I’ve heard Myles Turner, but I guess we’ll find out if they are actually able to.”

So, we have to wait but again it’s a lot better than it was August 22, the day KD and partner Rich Kleiman met with Marks, Steve Nash, Joe and Clara Wu Tsai.