Time to rebuild? Nets nearing crunchtime on big decisions

Over the following two weeks, it is seemingly that the Nets season will likely be made or misplaced. Among the opponents: the Grizzlies, the 76ers, the Raptors, the Blazers once more, and the Celtics. They have 5 video games in seven days stating Sunday. With a 7-9 file, Brooklyn wants a breakout. If not…

“With Kyrie Irving returning on Sunday in opposition to Memphis and Brooklyn, I believe the clock actually begins for this Nets group about whether or not they can hold this group collectively,” mentioned Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN friday “What the remainder of the league is taking a look at is how lengthy earlier than maybe Kevin Durant asks out once more in Brooklyn.”

Woj is just not the primary to recommend that point is of essence for Brooklyn. Per week in the past, his colleague, Brian Windhorst recommended the identical factor. “I need to be clear that is simply one thing that league executives are speaking about and, frankly, the Brooklyn Nets‘ entrance workplace has to severely get thinking about. And that might be a probably nuclear possibility of starting a blow-up to this roster this season.”

Even, Kendrick Perkins obtained in on it.

‘It is unfair, for the time being, to waste Kevin Durant’s greatness,’ Perkins mentioned on ESPN’s NBA Today Wednesday.

‘Right now, he is not on a staff competing for a championship. Sean Marks wants to do Kevin Durant a favor and commerce him to a title contender, the place we are able to watch him.

The big win over the Western Conference leaders in Portland Thursday made followers neglect the 153-121 drubbing by the hands of the Sacramento Kings two days earlier. But the Nets roster was constructed — and is paid — to be a championship contender, not a sixth seed or a play-in candidate like they have been final season.

Indeed, The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer and John Hollinger wrote Friday in a extra intensive piece that they too suppose that the Nets are going to have to resolve quickly what path the group ought to take: persevering with of their perception that the roster is a championship contender or, in a phrase, rebuild.

For The Athletic writers, the latter possibility appears nearer to actuality. They are pessimistic. Decisions for Sean Marks and Joe Tsai will proceed to pile up till the February 8 tradeline. For Schiffer and Hollinger, the big win in Portland and Irving’s return, anticipated Sunday vs. the Grizzlies at Barclays Center, are unlikely to change issues. The two write:

Despite the win and Irving’s pending return, over the course of the journey, a number of the staff’s shortcomings have been uncovered, both down low or when it comes to depth and there are restricted methods to improve the roster. In a way, the Nets are in a type of NBA purgatory, as they don’t seem shut to contending, however wouldn’t have the upcoming draft capital to tank. Was Thursday a turning level within the season or an outlier?

Hollinger, who frolicked within the Memphis Grizzlies entrance workplace is pessimistic in regards to the Nets future, suggesting that Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons are 1) seemingly to go away after this season and a pair of) unlikely to dwell up to his contract that has three years, together with this one, to run.

The Nets have two max gamers, one in all whom (Irving) they can not rely on and may not even need to come again, and the opposite (Simmons) is principally a defensive specialist off the bench at this level, even when wholesome, as a result of he’s so allergic to taking pictures. The Nets are one of many league’s most costly groups, so overachieving their approach to .500 whereas Irving and Simmons give them shut to zero on max offers wasn’t the plan right here.

Tanking is not in play, not once they owe their subsequent 5 drafts to Houston, nevertheless it’s laborious to get excited a couple of future past this season given Durant’s age, Simmons’ boat-anchor of a contract and Irving’s seemingly departure.

When Schiffer requested “has this been sufficient of a catastrophe to the place you have seen sufficient and have begun debating methods to correctly blow this up and get each final asset on the yard sale as soon as the commerce choices broaden in December?”

In this case, extra time equals extra info. We’ve solely seen just a few video games of the Nets underneath Vaughn, and Irving has been within the lineup for zero of them. I’ll consider Warren is able to taking part in after I see it, however clearly getting him on the ground would add extra info as effectively. Maybe Simmons can get going, Curry can unlock some extra offense as his minutes improve, and Harris can use his Virginia erudition to unfold information all through the group.

Even then, I doubt this staff is a contender, which implies the opposite elephant within the room exhibits up: The Nets are $34 million into the tax, which might yield a nine-figure fee to the league if they do not shed some payroll . Making offers with one of many two groups under the cap (Indiana and San Antonio) to dump wage (Harris or Patty Mills, as an illustration) would save the Nets tens of tens of millions of {dollars}. Dropping Irving’s expiring contract and taking again a decrease wage quantity would have the same influence.

And if anyone calls about taking the remaining $115 million on Simmons’ contract, the Nets have an Uber on standby prepared to take him to the airport.

In reality, a lot of Hollinger’s evaluation is about cash and saving wage and luxurious tax for a rebuild. Unless the Nets make some strikes, they will be paying the repeater tax on their payroll subsequent season. Hollinger notes for instance that if the Nets could make the proper of deal for Irving, the staff may save $25 million.

As for buying and selling Durant, issues get extra difficult. Durant has commerce worth however once more, like this summer season, the identical points stand. KD has a four-year deal together with this yr which is nice from one angle, however dangerous from one other, that he’ll be 38 when the contract ends. Hollinger says the sensible transfer is to transfer him on the deadline, not await the low season.

The big danger of ready till the offseason for the Nets is that Durant may get injured within the meantime, and he will definitely grow old. Durant’s worth is probably going best on the upcoming commerce deadline, the place a contender may instantly plug him in and get 4 playoff runs, reasonably than the three they’d get by buying him this summer season.

The Nets’ looming difficulty is that they owe their subsequent 4 drafts to Houston as effectively, and have an growing old Durant and a whole lot of meh on the roster past this season. If it is a misplaced season anyway, maxing out their Durant commerce worth and reaping a excessive draft decide is perhaps the most effective fallback place.

KD for commerce companions? Hollinger lists all of the gamers supplied for Durant final summer season, including the Hawks. Hollinger suggests and Schiffer agrees {that a} deal centered on Durant and Seth Curry for Dejounte Murray and John Collins and a few picks is perhaps a great change.

Don’t count on any big decisions for an additional month. Not solely did the Nets have a tricky schedule, however a 3rd of the NBA rosters aren’t eligible to be traded till December 15. Doing something earlier than that is not seemingly. Any big commerce could be difficult, so the extra items accessible, the extra seemingly a deal can get executed. Then, it is seven weeks till the commerce deadline. As Hollinger says, extra time equals extra info, however crunch time has arrived for the staff and the group.

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