Three big names the Brooklyn Nets could trade for this offseason
The Covid-19 outbreak has thrown the sports world and the 2019-2020 NBA season into complete turmoil.
Fans and NBA teams that would normally be enjoying the conference finals are at home wondering when basketball will return.
However, the Brooklyn Nets and their fanbase have had their eyes set on next season for quite some time.
Given Brooklyn's current title window, time is of the essence. The Nets have an intriguing pool of assets leading many to believe a third big name could be joining Irving and Durant next season.
Caris LeVert has turned heads this season with a dramatically improved outside shot. The 26-year-old's team-friendly contract makes him a valuable trade chip. Spencer Dinwiddie flashed the ability to score at will with Irving sidelined and Jarrett Allen has remained among the premier rim protectors in the league.
A package involving some of these players and draft compensation for a third star could be the move that puts the Nets over the top.
The question is, what are Brooklyn's options this summer?
Bradley Beal has been connected to the Nets for months.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported Thursday that the Nets have had "internal discussions" about Beal. This should come as no surprise as Brooklyn should be discussing as many options as possible.
The rumors make sense, Beal is a 26-year-old budding star playing for a team that has been unable to make the leap into title contention. Trade speculation for the star guard slowed down in October when he signed a two-year, $71M extension with Washington.
Despite this, Washington will at least entertain offers for Beal this offseason. The guard has averaged 30.5 PPG this season with John Wall sidelined and his value is near its peak. The Wizards are somewhat hamstrung by Wall's atrocious contract and a Beal trade would allow Washington to add several young pieces and multiple draft picks.
A trade for Beal would be the move that makes Brooklyn the favorite in the Eastern Conference.
Beal has experience playing off the ball alongside Wall and would be able to do the same with Irving. He would also be able to step in as the lead guard in the event that Irving misses extended time.
Irving, Beal and Durant are all at least 38% career three-point shooters as well as elite ball handlers. Add Joe Harris as an outstanding floor-spacer and DeAndre Jordan as a rim-rolling center and you have a deadly offensive attack.
Beal is under contract through 2021-2022 and would give the Nets a fantastic opportunity to win a title in the current window.
Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and GM Tommy Sheppard have both asserted that Beal is not available. Brooklyn would have to put together an overwhelming package to make this happen.
LeVert, Dinwiddie, Allen and multiple first-round picks will likely be the initial asking price for Washington. The Clippers parted with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks and two swaps in their deal for Paul George.
Beal is not Paul George, but he's not that far off as to suggest that the Nets will get away with offering much less than the package above.
While the price sounds like a lot, consider this: When was the last time a team comprised of three top-15 players did not contend for a title?
This is it for the Nets, the window is now. They are all in. GM Sean Marks worked for more than three years to get to this point and there should be no holding back.
It remains to be seen whether Beal will be on the market this summer, but if he is available, the Nets should do whatever they can to get him.
Now in his seventh NBA season, CJ McCollum has cemented himself as one of the most complete scorers in the association.
The Lehigh University product has developed into an elite scoring threat from all three levels.
McCollum is a career 39.7% shooter from three. The 28-year-old compliments his shooting ability with a tight handle, explosive first step and soft touch around the rim.
The most attractive facet of McCollum's game for the Nets would be his ability to play off the ball. He has done it his entire career alongside Damian Lillard and has become comfortable in his role. McCollum is 2nd in the league among players attempting at least three catch and shoot threes per game this season, converting on 47.1% of those attempts.
McCollum has shined in the spotlight throughout his career. He has consistently performed at an extremely high level in the postseason, averaging 24.4 PPG on 41.2% shooting from deep in his last three playoff appearances.
This ability to raise his level of play in big moments has shown up since McCollum's time at Lehigh where he scored 30 points and upset second-seeded Duke in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In game seven of last year's Western Conference semifinals, McCollum scored a franchise-record 37 points on 17-29 shooting from the field.
If you forgot just how incredible that performance was, you can watch those highlights here:
The experience and ability to step up on the biggest stage should not be overlooked and is a factor the Nets will value as they move towards title contention.
Time is running out for the Lillard-McCollum pairing in Portland. The duo has been together for more than five years and failed to seriously contend. The Trail Blazers were eight games under .500 when the NBA season paused and would not currently make the playoffs.
With McCollum, 28, and Lillard, 29, likely near their peaks in terms of development, owner Paul Allen and GM Neil Olshey will need to decide when to pull the plug.
Portland could acquire LeVert, a young player on the rise, along with salary fillers and at least one first-round pick. That should be enticing for a team that has failed to breakthrough over the last three years and struggled this season.
McCollum is under contract through 2023-2024 and could provide an incentive for Durant and Irving to stick around after their deals expire if the trio were to find success.
Jrue Holiday could be the piece that ties this Nets team together.
The 29-year-old is in his 11th NBA season and brings the Nets something they desperately need: a high-end two-way player.
An NBA All-Defensive selection for the last two years, Holiday is an on-ball stopper. It is rare to find a player of his defensive caliber who can also score at a high-level.
There have been concerns about Holiday on the Nets as an off-ball player, but he is a far better fit than most think. The notion that he cannot play off the ball is flawed.
Caris LeVert significantly improved his three-point shot this season. However, 62.4% of LeVert's three-point attempts were pull-ups. The fourth-year guard was noticeably more comfortable on these shots, converting on 41.5% of those attempts.
LeVert's three-point percentage dropped to just 31.9% when attempting catch and shoot threes this season, shots he will see far more often with Kyrie Irving dominating the ball. Holiday took a higher percentage of catch and shoot threes and converted on 36.9% of those attempts.
Holiday also averaged 6.9 APG this season and would be able to handle the ball effectively in place of Irving.
A deal for Holiday would allow the Nets to retain one of LeVert or Dinwiddie. New Orleans would likely demand LeVert in a trade, a tough price to pay for Brooklyn given the fourth-year guard is three years younger than Holiday and has a higher ceiling. Brooklyn could try to package Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen, but that would be less appealing to the Pelicans with pieces like Lonzo Ball and Jaxson Hayes already in place.
The Nets will have to assess how much value they place on Holiday's defensive prowess and their willingness to part ways with LeVert.
While he is not Beal, Holiday would bring a versatile skill set that could drastically improve Brooklyn, especially come playoff time.
The Nets are in a tremendous position to contend in the coming years. Unlike most other top teams, Brooklyn has the assets and flexibility to add a third star.
Players like LeVert, Dinwiddie and Allen have been huge factors in getting the team to this point, but the situation has changed and personal feelings seldom play a role in these decisions.
If Marks has the opportunity to acquire an experienced third star, he should pull the trigger and not look back.