Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Brooklyn Nets - NBA Offseason Outlook Series

2nd in Atlantic Division
6th in Eastern Conference
44-38 W-L Record

Team Leaders

Points: Brook Lopez (20.7)
Rebounds: Kevin Garnett (6.6)
Assists: Deron Williams (6.1)
Steals: Deron Williams (1.5)
Blocks: Brook Lopez (1.8)

Team Statistics

Points: 98.5 (21st)
Rebounds: 38.1 (29th)
Assists: 20.9 (24th)
Points Allowed: 99.5 (11th)

Depth Chart

PG: Deron Williams, Marquis Teague, Jorge Gutierrez
SG: Shaun Livingston, Marcus Thornton
SF: Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson
PF: Paul Pierce, Mirza Teletovic
C: Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee, Andray Blatche, Jason Collins, Brook Lopez (IL)

Financial Breakdown

Under Contract: Kevin Garnett ($12,000,000), Jorge Gutierrez ($816,482), Joe Johnson ($23,180,790), Brook Lopez ($15,719,063), Mason Plumlee ($1,357,080), Marquis Teague ($1,120,920), Mirza Teletovic ($3,368,100), Marcus Thornton ($8,575,000), Deron Williams ($19,754,465),

Free Agents: Alan Anderson (Player Option), Andray Blatche (Player Option), Jason Collins (Unrestricted), Andrei Kirilenko (Player Option), Shaun Livingston ((Unrestricted), Paul Pierce (Unrestricted)

Projected Cap Space: None (Approximately $22.8 million over salary cap)

Draft Picks

First Round: None
Second Round: None

Team Needs

Youth/Cap Relief
The average age of the Brooklyn Nets starting lineup this season was 32.6 (with Livingston a starter for the majority of the season). Since the team itself will not be getting any younger, Brooklyn should target youth with upside for long-term development while assembling a roster that can compete for a championship now. Some options may include trying to buy into the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft (BKN traded both their 2014 picks) and hopefully finding a sleeper, calling-up players from the NBA D-League or looking overseas for potential prospects. Moreover, the Nets should find young talent while attempting to clear some of their albatross contracts such as Joe Johnson's (probably the hardest contract to trade) and Deron Williams's (more likely, but still tough to trade). Since the Nets are over the cap, they will be limited to only the Mid-Level Exception in free agency. Thus, they must spend wisely and find creative methods in achieving salary relief.

Brooklyn finished the year second-last in fastbreak points per game (9.2) ahead of only the New York Knicks. The team lacked speed and could not generate scoring opportunities before opposing defenses were set partly due to the aging roster. If the Nets are looking to keep their championship window open for another year or so, they will need to find cheap athleticism on the market to compete with the pace of other elite teams. Athletic players have the ability to defend multiple positions and run in transition for easy buckets which maximizes the number of possessions.

Keepers & Draft/Free Agent/Trade Targets

Andray Blatche
Playing in Brooklyn for the last two years has helped Blatche revive his career after being amnestied by the Washington Wizards in addition to dealing with maturity issues. Blatche has become a serviceable big men and this season he had a 18.9 PER (above 15.0 average), played welling in limited minutes off the bench. While his play this year may command a bigger payday, the Nets should make a solid offer to retain him. He is owed over $8 million in amnesty payments so a pay cut for Brooklyn could be in the books as this would be a positive situation for both sides moving forward.

Shaun Livingston
After suffering a devastating knee injury in 2007, Livingston career was derailed until he signed with the Brooklyn Nets this past offseason. Initially billed as a backup, Livingston joined the starting line-up when Brook Lopez went down with a season-ending injury. The Nets were 8.5 points per 100 possessions better defensively with him on the floor. His length allowed him to defend both guard positions and get to the rim on offense. Livingston played in a career high 76 games (starting a career high 54 games) this season and proved to be instrumental in the Nets turnaround. Shaun Livingston will certainly be getting interest from other teams and Brooklyn must make him the top priority this offseason.

Paul Pierce
If future Hall of Famer, Kevin Garnett is returning for a final season (1 year/$12 million left on his contract), it would make sense to bring back Pierce on a one year deal. The Brooklyn Nets would still be well over the salary cap if they allowed Pierce to walk. Thus, signing him to a one year contract would give them the flexibility to trade him to a contender at the trade deadline if things do not pan out. Paul Pierce has declined steadily over the past few years, but he still provides veteran leadership and makes plays down the stretch.

Alec Brown
Brown played college ball at Green Bay, one of the more low-profile basketball programs in the nation. Nonetheless, at 7'1", Brown has the versatility to play inside and outside. He shot an above average 44.6% from deep and blocked 2.8 shots per game. However, he only grabbed 5.4 boards per game and will need to add strength to bang down low with opposing centers. Alec Brown would be a good option as a pick-and-pop player and considering he may go undrafted, the Nets should look to bring him in for workouts and/or add him to their summer league roster.

DeAndre Kane
Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane is one of the oldest players in the 2014 NBA Draft, yet he brings a diverse set of skills. Selected to the First team All-Big 12, Kane averaged 17.1 pts, 6.8 reb, and 5.9 ast per game for the Cyclones this year. Kane has good size (6'4") for a point guard and developed a more efficient game this season under Fred Hoiberg. If the Nets lose Shaun Livingston via free agency, Kane would be a solid and cheap option as a backup pg. Projected as a mid to late 2nd rounder, DeAndre Kane is a nice option for the Nets if they can buy into the draft.

Michael Beasley
Drafted 2nd overall in the 2008 NBA Draft, Beasley never lived up to the hype and bounced around with stops at Minnesota and Phoenix before returning to Miami. He is widely known for his off-court issues causing teams to have second thoughts of signing him to a contract. Beasley has the talent to be a skilled combo forward and the Nets should take a gamble on him if Miami lets him leave this offseason. Nets lack athleticism and with the leadership of Kidd, Garnett, and Pierce, Beasley would be integrated into a cultured locker room.

Danny Granger
Granger will not be commanding a lucrative deal this offseason as he seeks to join a championship contender. If Granger declines his player option, he will become an unrestricted free agent. The former All-Star is no longer a primary scoring option, but remains a valuable threat off the bench. Brooklyn could use a veteran wing for their 2nd unit and since they are serious about competing for a championship in their small window, any low-risk high-reward signing is huge.

Josh Smith
Although it may not be ideal to swap one large contract for another, taking on Josh Smith's 3 year/$40.5 million salary while trading away a package centered around either Deron Williams or Brook Lopez may actually be beneficial for Brooklyn. The Nets lack an athletic two-way player who can guard multiple positions and Smith fits the bill. Williams had a sub-par season at the point and Brook Lopez, who suffered a season-ending foot injury is set to become a free agent in the summer of 2015. Josh Smith is a defensive juggernaut who can finish well in transition and get in the paint. While the knock on Smith is his perimeter shooting, Mirza Teletovic's dead-eye three-point ability makes up for this short coming. Considering Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov is not afraid to spend money and enter luxury tax territory each year, making a move for Smith is a reasonable upgrade as his trade value has bottomed down this season and Detroit has also been fielding offers.

No comments:

Post a Comment