Kevin Durant is out and the Nets are 0-2 without him. How long will he be out? According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets expect him to be on the bench for a month, starting with the diagnosis of his sprained MCL on January 9. The NBA trade deadline is February 9. That coincidence will permit the Nets to re-evaluate, per Woj and a league source.
Brooklyn’s front office wants to be systematic and purposeful in seeing what the Nets can do as a team and as individuals during KD’s absence, then depending on what they decide make the necessary moves at the deadline. In other words, no rush on anything. So step back from the trade machines ... for the moment. Moreover, Bobby Marks, Woj’s ESPN colleague, says trade talks so far have been less active than in the past. Why? Because with the play-in format, virtually every team thinks they have a chance at the post-season. Well, every team except those who practice spelling “Wembanyama” for their Draft Night card.
There are other decision dates coming up as well, March 1 is the buyout deadline where the Nets have a bit of an advantage in that — if they want — they can still utilize the Taxpayers MLE in the March 1 buyout talks. The amount drops every day by $37,326 but Brooklyn will still have around $4.6 million available on March 1. That’s a lot more than the vets minimum.
Meanwhile, these are heady days for the New York Liberty who traded for Jonquel Jones, the 2021 MVP, on Monday. She specifically requested a move to New York. The Libs would like to add free agent All-Everything Breanna Stewart to the mix. They can officially start talking with her and other free agents this weekend. It’s one more indication that Joe and Clara Wu Tsai remain serious about both the Liberty and Nets.
As Woj noted on Friday, the Tsais are willing to pay even more luxury taxes ... if needed.
“They have an owner in Joe Tsai who’s shown a willingness to take on salary to run up their luxury tax bill. This is clearly the ultimate win-now team in the NBA.” Woj said on NBA Countdown. Tsai is currently projected to pay roughly $100 million in luxury taxes this year.
So here ya go...
—January 20 - NBA Two-Way contracts are guaranteed for the remainder of the season. That will effect David Duke Jr. and Dru Smith. Since Duke is on a roll with Long Island and Smith was just signed, don’t expect any change there. Two-ways make $502,000 for the season, half the minimum salary for rookies.
—January 21 - WNBA teams can start negotiating with free agents. Big day for Liberty who have been in pursuit of Breanna Stewart. They would add the two-time Finals MVP and one-time league MVP to another former MVP Jonquel Jones who they acquired in a trade on Monday.
—January 30 - Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James play Nets at Barclays Center. If both are healthy, it will be the first match-up between James and Kevin Durant since Christmas 2018 when James was in Cleveland and Durant in Golden State. That now appears unlikely ... again.
—February 1 - WNBA free agents can sign new contracts.
—February 9 - NBA trade deadline, 3:00 p.m. ET. End of trade season.
—February 10 - The $2.5 million Traded Player Exception generated by the James Harden trade expires. The TPE had been $11.3 million but Nets used most of it in trade for Royce O’Neale.
—February 10 - The Nets $1.7 million Traded Player Exception generated by the Paul Millsap element of the 76ers trade expires. That would exhaust the Nets TPE treasure.
—February 11 - James Harden returns to Barclays Center with 76ers for the first time. Will KD be back?
—February 13 - First Nets-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden,
—February 17-19 - NBA All-Star Weekend 2023 (Salt Lake City, UT). NBA games resume February 22. Three Nets — Durant, Kyrie Irving and Nic Claxton are among the leaders in fan balloting and Yuta Watanabe is hopeful for an invitation to the 3-point shooting contest.
—March 1 - Playoff Eligibility Waiver Deadline, aka the buyout deadline. Players waived or bought out after this date cannot play in post-season with a different team. The TMLE could come in handy here even if diminished. The TMLE drops by $37,236 every day after January 10. By March 1, it will be worth $4.62 million, still substantially above the vets minimum. Nets could offer players more than a minimum deal for the rest of the season. TMLE deals can be as long as three years.
—March 19 - Bruce Brown returns to Brooklyn with Denver Nuggets.
—March 25 - Long Island Nets conclude G League season at Rio Grande Valley.
—April 4 - Michael Grady returns to Brooklyn with Minnesota Timberwolves.
—April 9 - Regular season ends with 76ers facing Nets at Barclays Center.
—April 10 - WNBA Draft. Liberty had the No. 6 pick but traded it in the Jonquel Jones trade. They currently have the 30th pick.
—April 11-14 - NBA Play-In Tournament. Shouldn’t be an issue!
—April 15 - Start of NBA Playoffs. Assuming no surprises, the Nets will have a week to rest up between end of the season and first game of the playoffs.
—May 19 - New York Liberty open their 2023 season vs. Washington Mystics in the District.
—May 21 - New York Liberty open at home, vs. Indiana Fever.
—May 16 - The Victor Wembanyama Sweepstakes, aka the Draft Lottery. It’s hard to imagine the Nets will have any dog in this fight, but expect it to be the most watched NBA Lottery ever.
—June 22 - NBA Draft. Nets currently have the 27th and 57th picks. That can (will?) change.