The Rebuilding of Brooklyn
Nearly four years after the trade that mortgaged their future and sent the team into a downward spiral, the Brooklyn Nets have finally set the foundation for a successful rebuilding process.
The organization hired Sean Marks as general manager and Kenny Atkinson as head coach, both of whom are well respected around the league.
Marks began his reboot by trading Thaddeus Young, a talented 28-year-old Power Forward, for the 20th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and a future second round pick.
He then selected Caris LeVert, a 6' 7" shooting guard with a lightning quick first step and solid three point shot. Marks also selected Brooklyn native Isaiah Whitehead with the 42nd pick in the draft.
Marks' free agency plan was to aggressively go after restricted free agents. With an abundance of cap space, Marks signed Small Forward Allen Crabbe (4-Yr, $75M) and Shooting Guard Tyler Johnson (4-Yr, $50M) to offer sheets.
However, the Trailblazers and Heat both matched these offers. Marks was able to sign PG Jeremy Lin (3-Yr, $36M) and PF Trevor Booker (2-Yr, $18.5M) to multi-year deals. Plan B was then to sign a series of veterans to short term deals for a low cost to create around $30M in cap space for the next offseason.
When the trade deadline came around Marks dealt 27-year-old swingman Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough to the Wizards for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a 2017 protected first round draft pick.
This move was the exact type of trade the Nets needed to make at this juncture.
Brooklyn gave up Bogdanovic, who will most likely be on the decline by the time they are in contention, for a first round draft pick and a chance to add more young talent. This is the name of the game.
Nearing the end of the 2016-2017 NBA season there is a silver lining for Nets fans. LeVert is beginning to look like an absolute steal with the 20th pick and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has continued to improve his skillset.
Isaiah Whitehead has progressed faster than expected after receiving increased minutes with Jeremy Lin injured. Once Lin recovered from his injury, he and Brook Lopez created a solid 1-2 punch scoring the basketball.
Kenny Atkinson has done a productive job in his first year as head coach. He has employed an uptempo, hard-nosed type of play that allows these young players to develop their skills.
Brooklyn will have the opportunity to add to this foundation in the 2017 NBA Draft and free agency.
Brooklyn will be forced to swap what will likely be the first pick of the 2017 NBA Draft with Boston for a pick in the mid-20s. When this swap occurs the Nets will also receive the Celtics second round pick, which is currently the 57th.
Brooklyn will also receive the Wizards' first round pick which will likely also be in the mid-20s. That gives the Nets three picks in the 2017 draft and a chance to find hidden gems such as LeVert and Whitehead once again.
Marks will most likely attempt to pursue restricted free agents once again this summer. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Otto Porter are two players that the Nets could target.
The Nets have not had much to be positive about in recent years, but a light is finally beginning to emerge at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Brooklyn has Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson to thank for that.