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Fischer: Expect Nets to be ‘front of the line,’ aggressive and still looking for a title

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

For Jake Fischer, one telling thing about the Nets four days of trades was what they didn’t do.

Competing for championships has been Brooklyn’s mindset under Joe Tsai’s ownership. The front office did not deal to get under the luxury tax before the deadline as some rival personnel expected.

The Nets front office did reduce Tsai’s luxury taxes from $108.2 million to $6.9 million, a big savings, but they could have gone all the way under the threshold, which would have been an indication of capitulation ... and would have saved them more money in taxes next season when the repeater tax kicks in. It was another indicator that while the Nets are in rebuild, they are not in a tear down (as our Professor B noted a few days back.)

Fischer, in fact, believes the Nets are going to be aggressive, that they have the assets to continue to go for it, as Sean Marks told the media after the Kevin Durant trade...

Brooklyn is left with seven first-rounders plus an intriguing cast of wing players from dealing out Harden, then Irving and finally Durant.

The Nets can suddenly jump to the front of the line whenever another franchise focal point seeks a new destination. They quite literally hold the package that just acquired Kevin Durant, and then some...

Smart money would bet on the Nets searching for pathways back toward contention sooner than anything else.

As we noted Monday, the Nets draft stocks have been replenished and they now have one huge and one useful trade exceptions: $18.1 million from the KD deal and $6.0 million from the Kyrie deal. Neither will expire for a year, meaning through the draft, free agency and next season’s deadline.

And while Fischer says, “Brooklyn staffers believe this version of their roster will vie for a playoff berth under Jacque Vaughn,” there remain a lot of questions, including that logjam at the wings.

Fischer writes that the Nets did not seriously entertain the Grizzlies reported package of four first rounders for Mikal Bridges, there will likely be suitors for the All-Defense wing in the off-season. He also notes that last summer, the Suns offered Cam Johnson $72 million over four years and he declined the package. Johnson will be restricted free agent in the summer. (Mike Scotto reported in November that the discussions were within a range of $66 to $72 million.)

As for the increasingly increasingly difficult-to-ignore issues with Ben Simmons, Fischer had this take.

What becomes of Simmons and the final two years and nearly $80 million remaining on his contract after this season is of course another dynamic to monitor in Brooklyn. The Nets are widely expected to gauge what trade market could materialize for Simmons after his disappointing campaign comes to a close. The three-time All-Star is still far from the form he exhibited during his best days in Philadelphia.

And he writes, NBA executives wonder about “the long-term security of Sean Marks’ front office,” Still, as Fischer writes — and Marks has said — the current rebuild should be a lot easier than the one Marks faced on arriving in Brooklyn seven years ago. At that point, the Nets did not control any of their first or second rounders for years out and had only two players who could approach the definition of star: Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.