Brooklyn Nets 2020 Offseason Preview
The Brooklyn Nets are less than two months away from a new era of basketball. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will suit up together for the first time on December 22nd and the excitement is building.
With the offseason approaching, we take a look at numerous roster decisions facing general manager Sean Marks and several names that Brooklyn could target in trades, the draft and free agency.
All signs have pointed to Brooklyn actively trying to improve their roster this offseason. This could mean trading significant assets for a third star or adding several proven complementary pieces.
Brooklyn has 10 players under guaranteed contracts next season. Outside of Irving, Durant and DeAndre Jordan, no one is off the table in trade discussions. The Nets have significant trade assets compared to other contending teams with Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, salary fillers and draft picks available to package.
Marks’ willingness to part with LeVert will determine the direction of Brooklyn's offseason. The swingman is coming off a fantastic season in which he showcased the skill set of an elite shot creator. The 26-year-old is under contract for the next three years at just $17.5M annually, making him one of the premier trade chips of the 2020 offseason.
Dinwiddie and Allen have also frequently been mentioned in trade rumors. Both will be seeking hefty contracts after the upcoming season which somewhat lessens their trade value. A package of Dinwiddie, Allen and draft picks would still likely land Brooklyn a very high-level player. However, Marks may prefer to keep all of his trade ammo in the event that a superstar such as Bradley Beal hits the market at the trade deadline.
Joe Harris’ free agency is the next biggest development of the offseason. Harris has become a fan favorite in Brooklyn over the last three seasons and quietly developed into one of the top shooters in the league. The market for the sharpshooter will likely be somewhere from $12M-$15M annually. This would put Brooklyn into the luxury tax, but Nets owner Joe Tsai has been vocal about his commitment to spending, signaling that Harris will likely be back next season.
Garrett Temple has a team option at $5 million. With Harris likely putting Brooklyn into the tax and the emergence of Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, some have questioned whether Temple will be back. However, the NBA and players union recently agreed to lower luxury tax payments amidst losses in revenue, a huge break for Brooklyn. This discounted rate could convince Tsai to pick up Temple’s option.
Outside of that, Chris Chiozza, Tyler Johnson and Jeremiah Martin will hit free agency. Chiozza and Martin are both on two-way contracts, making them restricted free agents. Johnson’s impressive bubble performance may have saved him a spot on the roster. The guard averaged 12.0 PPG and 3.0 APG on 38.9% shooting from three in eight games.
With several tradable contracts and free agents, there is potential for a fair amount of roster turnover for Brooklyn.
Guaranteed (10): Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Nic Claxton, Dzanan Musa, Rodions Kurucs
Non-Guaranteed (2): Garrett Temple (Team Option), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot
Free Agents (5): Joe Harris (UFA), Tyler Johnson (UFA), Wilson Chandler (UFA), Chris Chiozza (RFA), Jeremiah Martin (RFA)
Desmond Bane, Wing, TCU: Bane brings a skill to the table that every NBA team values: Shooting. The three-year starter shot a scorching hot 44.2% from three on 6.5 attempts per game last season. Bane was comfortable shooting off the catch or dribble and moves extremely well off the ball. He can also handle in the pick and roll as a pull-up threat or facilitator. At 6’6”, 215 lbs, a strong frame and quick hands serve him well on the defensive end. While some scouts will be turned off by his 6’5” wingspan, Bane shows a sound understanding of defensive rotations and body position. The Indiana-native will never be an isolation playmaker, but his 3 and D potential could be too enticing for Brooklyn to pass up at 19.
Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford: The Nets could be in the market for another point guard this offseason. Kyrie Irving’s injury history and trade rumors surrounding Spencer Dinwiddie point to the need for a dependable third option. Terry could add even more firepower to an already explosive Brooklyn offense. The freshman is among the best shooters in the draft, converting on 40.9% of his threes last season while showing off unlimited range. Terry possesses raw playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, using a quick first step and impressive layup package to score around the rim. A fluid repertoire of offensive moves and feel for the game will allow the sharpshooter to play on or off the ball. Standing just 6’2”, the point guard added 15 pounds of muscle this offseason to ease concerns about his size. Terry has been all over mock drafts, ranging from the early teens to the mid-20s. If the point guard is available at 19, his shooting and playmaking ability should catch Brooklyn’s eye.
Josh Green, Wing, Arizona: Throughout his freshman season, Green flashed a skill set that screamed “complimentary piece”. The wing shot 36.1% from three, consistently knocking down spot-up attempts while playing tenacious defense. Standing 6’6” with a 6’10” wingspan, Green’s defensive motor jumps off the screen. He is consistently hounding ball handlers or quickly rotating off the ball. A lack of ball-handling and finishing ability limit the Arizona product’s upside, but he projects as a player who will be able to contribute on a contending team alongside playmakers. Brooklyn should value Green’s skill set and high floor. Expect the Nets to give the wing a hard look come draft night.
RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers: Hampton has been frequently linked to Brooklyn in recent weeks. A former 5-star recruit out of Texas, the 19-year-old was once considered a potential top draft pick. The 6’5” guard is among the most explosive players in this year’s class. However, his stock is way down after struggling in Australia’s NBL. Hampton averaged just 8.8 PPG on 29.5% shooting from three in 15 games. Despite these struggles, Hampton possesses the ball-handling and leaping ability to be a premier playmaker in the NBA. The questions surrounding his game stem from shooting struggles and awkward mechanics. He will be viewed as a developmental pick who will likely spend time in the G-League. While Hampton doesn’t fit Brooklyn’s current timeline, his upside is extremely rare to find late in the draft.
Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington: McDaniels could prove to be tremendous value at 19th overall but the jury is out on the lanky freshman. At 6’9” with a seven-foot wingspan and above-average athleticism, McDaniels has the attributes of an elite scorer. The Washington product averaged 13.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG on 33.9% shooting from three last season. The 19-year-old handles the ball at a very high level for someone his size and looked comfortable operating at all three levels. He flashed a smooth shooting stroke but often struggled with shot selection. Strength remains a major concern among scouts at just 200 lbs. The Seattle native will need to add muscle in order to finish at the rim and challenge defensively. Despite some glaring concerns, McDaniels’ combination of size and offensive skills make him a potential home run pick. If some of Brooklyn’s primary options are off the board, they could take a shot on the forward.
Bradley Beal: Beal has been the third star linked to Brookyn for months now. Despite all of the rumors, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and GM Tommy Sheppard have both insisted that the guard is not available. However, anyone is available for the right price and in the NBA these things change in the blink of an eye. Beal’s future in Washington is largely contingent on John Wall and his level of play returning from injury. If available, Beal would be the piece that puts Brooklyn over the top. He has experience playing on and off the ball at an elite level. The 27-year-old is a 38% career three-point shooter and will consistently knock down spot-up attempts. He can also get to the rim at will when handling the ball and presents yet another elite option down the stretch of games. A big three of Durant, Irving and Beal would present matchup nightmares for every team in the league. Marks would have to empty the cupboard to get Beal. LeVert, Prince, Allen, and a pair of first-round picks would likely be the starting point in discussions. If Beal is available, whatever the price may be, Marks should make his best offer and not look back.
Jrue Holiday: Holiday has been rumored to Brooklyn for months and presents a fantastic fit alongside Irving. These rumors have gained momentum in the last week after it was reported that the Pelicans are openly discussing trades for the guard. The Nets currently lack an on-ball defensive stopper. Holiday would be that guy. Playing alongside Durant and Irving would allow Holiday to unleash his full defensive capabilities. We got a taste of that in the 2018 playoffs and it was a scary sight for the rest of the league. Offensively, the 30-year-old can score in a variety of ways, averaging 19.2 PPG last season on 35.3% shooting from deep. He was comfortable taking spot up threes last season and is also a capable passer in the pick and roll, averaging 6.9 APG. It is hard to envision a deal for Holiday getting done without including LeVert. That is a tough price to pay as LeVert is four years younger and on an ascending trajectory, but Holiday would presents a series of skills that would prove extremely valuable. Marks may hold out for a player of Beal’s caliber but Holiday still presents a solid option.
CJ McCollum: Through all of the rumors and discussions about potential Nets trade targets, McCollum’s name has never been mentioned. He is a player that would excel in Brooklyn and one Portland could realistically part ways with. The Lillard-McCollum pairing has been together for five years and has failed to make a serious run at the championship. Lillard is 30 and McCollum is 29. Both are near their peaks in terms of value. You have to wonder if owner Jody Allen is getting close to pulling the plug. In that scenario, McCollum would be the one on the move. The Lehigh University product is among the most complete scorers in the league, using a tight handle and series of crafty step backs to create his own shot from all points on the floor. The seven-year veteran is a 39.7% career three-point shooter and is comfortable playing alongside an elite playmaker. An underrated facet of McCollum’s game is his ability to raise his level of play in big moments. The guard has averaged 24.2 PPG on 40.5% shooting from three in his last four playoffs and singlehandedly willed the Blazers to victory in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals. It remains to be seen whether he will be discussed in trades, but if available McCollum would offer an elite scorer at a discounted price to the likes of Beal and Holiday.
Free Agent Targets
Serge Ibaka: There has not been a free agent linked to Brooklyn more than Ibaka, and justifiably so. Ibaka’s size and defensive skill set are exactly what Brooklyn should be looking for. The seven footer’s combination of strength and athleticism would give Brooklyn a dependable big on perimeter switches, as well as an option against Anthony Davis down the line. The 30-year-old has matured tremendously on the defensive end throughout his time in Toronto, displaying a sound understanding of defensive rotations and consistently making the proper reads. Ibaka would also provide head coach Steve Nash incredible flexibility with his lineups. He shot 38.5% from three last season and could stretch the floor as a center or play the four in specific situations. Ibaka has a close personal relationship with Kevin Durant, and while he would have to take a paycut to join the Nets, the allure of a championship and playing with his former teammate may be enough to land the big man in Brooklyn
Moe Harkless: The Nets may need to look no further than across the river to fill their defensive void. Harkless is among the most underrated two-way players in the league and presents a solid option for Brooklyn on the wing. Despite being traded from LA to New York at the deadline last season, the 27-year-old proved he is still a capable defender. Harkless played a key role in Portland’s 2018 playoff run, frequently drawing the opposing team’s best player. While the New York native is an inconsistent three-point shooter at 32.5% on his career, he would get a sizable portion of open looks alongside Brooklyn’s playmakers. Harkless is not a flashy name, but the 27-year-old’s defensive capabilities would go a long way come playoff time.
Wesley Matthews: Defense and shooting are the calling cards for role players and Matthews proved he could do both on a contending team last season. Milwaukee ranked first in the league defensively with Matthews frequently guarding the opposing team’s best player. This took pressure off Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo, allowing them to focus their energy on offense. At 220 lbs, Matthews uses a strong frame and quick feet to challenge elite scorers the likes of James Harden, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. Offensively, the wing is a solid three-point shooter at 38.1% on his career. Matthews would fit in seamlessly as a defensive specialist alongside Irving and Durant. The 11-year veteran has a player option at $2.7 million next season which he will likely decline. If Matthews is looking for a change of scenery to fill his championship aspirations, Brooklyn could be his best bet.
Paul Millsap: With a team full of big personalities and huge expectations, the Brooklyn Nets cannot afford to overlook the importance of a veteran presence. Millsap fills needs both on the court and in the locker room. The 14-year veteran showed he has something left in the tank last season. The forward played extremely intelligent defense while draining a career-best 43.5% of his threes. Millsap excelled as a spot-up shooter, converting on 46.4% of his catch and shoot threes, fourth in the league among players attempting at least two per game. With the Nuggets likely invested in resigning Jerami Grant, Millsap may be the odd man out. At 35-years-old, the four-time all-star will likely be looking for his first legitimate shot at a title. If the market for Millsap does not exceed the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.7 million), he will be on Brooklyn’s shortlist.
Markieff Morris: If the Nets strike out on the names above, Morris presents a fairly safe option. You know what you’re getting with Morris. He’s an above-average defender who noticeably ramped up his effort during the Lakers playoff run last season. He’s an adequate three-point shooter at 34.5% on his career but brings virtually no playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. The biggest asset that Morris brings to a team is his mentality. A hard-nosed, physical player can swing momentum during the heightened intensity of playoff games. Morris is precisely that. At 31-years-old, Morris would be a relatively inexpensive option. The veteran would be lucky to land a deal for the taxpayer mid-level exception. He won’t be Brooklyn’s first call, but Morris presents a comfortable fallback plan.
There are several questions surrounding the new-look Nets. With title aspirations and a bevy of trade assets, Brooklyn is in a position to make some noise this offseason.
The Nets front office has several crucial decisions to make that will determine the direction of the Durant-Irving era.