Do the Nets want someone in the Draft who’s currently just out of reach for them? It’s starting to seem that way. After reporting last week that the Nets were considering combining their picks at Nos. 21 and 22 to move up, Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN write Tuesday that Brooklyn is “extremely active” in trade talks, willing to include one of their two 3-and-D wings in a deal for a higher pick.
In updating ESPN’s mock draft for the last time Tuesday, Givony wrote this:
The Nets are said to be extremely active in trade conversations, having the option of using one or both of their first-round picks (Nos. 21 and 22) with players such as Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale to get to different spots in the draft if they desire.
He also suggested one final destination for DFS.
The Pacers trading for a veteran such as Tobias Harris, De’Andre Hunter or Dorian Finney-Smith is an option that could be explored as well.
The Pacers have both the seventh and 26th pick.
In that final mock, ESPN has the Nets taking Noah Clowney, the 6’10” Alabama big at No. 21 and Keyonte George, the 6’4” shooting guard, at 22, but as Givony’s writing colleague, Jeremy Woo noted, “It’s unclear exactly what Brooklyn will do with these two picks (Nos. 21 and 22),”
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer in his mock draft reported that there is market for the two wings, writing: “Brooklyn has received a number of calls for two veteran wings in Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith.”
And Nick Friedell, interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, suggests that the Nets could also package the firsts for a veteran.
The Nets have the ability to package these picks and land the type of veteran who could help them compete quicker behind Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. If they stick with these two picks, [Leonard] Miller provides some versatility. Same with [Rayan] Rupert, who played for the New Zealand Breakers. Both have the potential to grow into larger roles in Jacque Vaughn’s rotation.
O’Neale, acquired in a trade with Utah just after the Draft last year, and Finney-Smith, acquired in the trade with Dallas for Kyrie Irving at the deadline, are seen as duplicative. DFS took on a starter’s role immediately after the trade, with O’Neale as sixth man. The two are same age, 30, but O’Neale’s contract is only guaranteed $2.5 million on $9.5 million this season. Finney-Smith is guaranteed $13.9 million this season, the second year of four-year, $55.6 million contract. Brian Lewis has reported that after DFS was dealt to Brooklyn, the Nets were offered two first round picks for him by an unidentified team.
The continuing drumbeat on the Nets desire to move up makes it seem that Brooklyn has someone specific in mind that they covet, perhaps at the end of the lottery or in the teens. Dallas at No. 10, Oklahoma City at 12, Atlanta at 15 and Utah at 16 all are reportedly willing to trade their picks for the right pieces.
Later Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski laid the Nets long-term plan, build around Mikal Bridges while waiting for the next superstar...
“This is Nets team with a lot of options now,” said Woj. “They’re replenishing their picks. Mikal Bridges is a player they are going to build around. The interest in Bridges around the league, the kind of offers the Nets have gotten for him speaks to how valuable he is, a player that you keep in place until the next big star is available in a trade. Remember, the Nets have those Suns unprotected picks in 2027 and 2029 that are looking more valuable than ever.
“They’re in a position right now to be competitive, to be pretty good, to be patient so they can go big-game hunting again.”
In Australia, Cam Johnson, appearing on a sports podcast, gave yet another indication that he plans to stay in Brooklyn, noting that he expects to go house hunting in Brooklyn at “the conclusion of free agency”...
He explained his lease on his current Brooklyn apartment runs only till June. Then he’ll get serious and living quarters ... still in Brooklyn.
”At the conclusion of free agency, I’ll reevaluate, explore neighborhoods figure out which area of Brooklyn I’d like to live in because there are a lot of cool neighborhoods,” said Johnson about 45 minutes into the interview. Johnson, of course, is a restricted free agent who can sign an extension starting on July 5.
On the Damian Lillard front, Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports reports the Blazers haven’t taken calls from other teams, but still intend to build around Lillard rather than trade him after a decade in the Rose City.
Lillard, by all accounts, prefers to remain with Portland, and the Trail Blazers have not shown any willingness to discuss the seven-time All-Star with inquiring teams, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Blazers view this entire offseason as their canvas to fortify a contender around Lillard, not just this week’s NBA draft, and free agency will bring additional opportunity to bolster this roster beyond plans to re-sign Jerami Grant.
The Draft is 8:00 p.m. ET at Barclays Center Thursday.
- 2023 NBA mock draft: Projecting all 58 picks based on latest intel and scouting - Jonathan Givony & Jeremy Woo - ESPN+