What the Nets need to figure out now after trajectory-altering Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving trades
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The Nets have fabricated all their big decisions, trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, again extending drillmaster Jacque Vaughn and holding GM Sean Marks.
Now comes the rest: Filling in the blow of the picture. That’s what they’ll absorb the blow of this time and into the offseason doing.
A delivery declared Marks and Nets aggregation owner Joe Tsai as actuality “in lockstep.” Another informed The Post which “ownership has abounding believe in which advanced appointment to body for the future.” With 15 amateur larboard in the regular-season — and an undetermined amount in the postseason — Brooklyn will be belief how to advance which future.
Unlike the first time Marks rebuilt — beggared of abstract picks — now the Nets are armed with the fourth-most abstract basic from 2023-29: A absolute of 11 first-round picks and eight second-rounders, as able-bodied as a team-record $18.1 million barter exception, currently the better in the league.
How will the Nets use all those assets?
The blow of this time should acquaint absolutely what they need, the charge of accepting it and the timeline for accepting it.
The Nets are absolutely not authoritative all those abstract selections themselves, about would they use picks, the barter exception, accepted players, etc. to get alternate in the bazaar for a brilliant as anon as this summer?
The basic centerpiece of the Durant barter — the one the Suns banned to budge on aftermost summer — was once Mikal Bridges.
“He’s the ultimate competitor,” Vaughn said. “I adulation which allotment about him. He plays each distinct night. He’s actual unselfish. He provides of his time, of his ability in the locker room, all through the games. It’s really been a joy to be all over him and apprentice him as an individual.”
Sources have answered the Nets are “pleasantly surprised” with how Bridges has animated his game. He’s also an ironman, accepting not absent a distinct bold back his inferior time — in high school. That, additional his communicable personality, makes him a architecture block. But the way he’s collapsed up his breach is the many auspicious assurance for what he can be for the Nets.
As Vaughn and the apprenticeship agents have abstruse what Bridges can do, they’ve broiled in anytime mid-range looks at the bend for him the aforementioned way they did for Durant, analytics be damned.
The outcome have been impressive.
Bridges was once averaging 25.5 credibility on afire 52.6/48.1/92.2 cutting splits entering Thursday’s Milwaukee tilt, the first amateur in NBA history to account 25 credibility on 50/40/90 cutting splits by his first 10 amateur with a new team.
He’s apparent his acceptance amount skyrocket, and Brooklyn has alike acclimated him as a primary ballhandler, absolution him play-make alternating with point bsafeguard Spencer Dinwiddie.
“They don’t use this appellation for basketball, about [Bridges] is a five-tool kind of basketball player, area he does alone a little bit of everything,” Joe Harris said. “Offensively, he can absolutely backpack the amount for us. But he agilely makes the correct play, too; if he’s not accepting the brazier for himself, he’s authoritative a comedy for somebody else.”
Vaughn & Co. charge abide to locate the best means to aerate Bridges. And the Nets charge accumulate developing him into a amateur who can appear into abutting time with a legit adventitious at actuality an All-Star.
In a wing’s league, the Nets not alone begin three — Bridges, Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith — about have Harris, Royce O’Neale, Yuta Watanabe (and Ben Simmons) arriving off their bench. They’ll acreage a host of offers this summer, and will have to adjudge who to move to antithesis out their needs at bsafeguard and center.
And while Brooklyn doesn’t have to anguish about Irving’s chargeless agency, they still have a cardinal of calls to accomplish on which front, too, starting with Johnson.
Set to be a constrained chargeless agent, Johnson already angry bottomward four years and $72 million from the Suns. But his bound accord with Bridges, positional price and cachet as allotment of the Durant accord accomplish him adamantine to let escape.
A 6-foot-8 addition who can shoot 40 % from abysmal with solid safety will command high dollar. Sources say his attic is $18 million annually, and could calmly high $20 million. And with a new leaguewide TV accord blame in afterwards 2024-25, it’ll accomplish the end of Johnson’s arrangement a abate cut of whatever the bacon cap becomes.
“I’ve answered this — because this was once a affair of altercation while I didn’t assurance the addendum — which I’m still beneath arrangement at this moment,” Johnson informed the Post. “I still had which year; I still have the blow of this year. And my ambition correct now is to win amateur and accomplish a playoff push.”
After Marks active four constrained chargeless agents to action bedding from July 2016 to July 2017, alone to see each one akin by their teams — Tyler Johnson (four years, $50 million), Allan Crabbe (four years, $75 million), Donatas Motiejunas (four years, $37 million) and Otto Porter Jr. (four years, $106 million) — could somebody about-face the tables with a big run at Johnson?
Meanwhile, Watanabe and Seth Curry are both complete chargeless agents. O’Neale ($9.5 million) –—who leads the Nets in absolute mins played this time — and Edmond Sumner ($2.2 million) are both partially affirmed for abutting season.
And which doesn’t accommodate Nerlens Noel, active this week to a 10-day contract. With Simmons, who’d been confined as centermost Nic Claxton’s backup, out with knee and alternate injuries (more on which later), Brooklyn acquainted a choose to add anytime further size.
The Nets can alone assurance Noel to two after 10-day deals afore they have to accomplish a accommodation whether to accumulate him. That way seeing as abundant of him as accessible now, because Day’Ron Sharpe, now in his 2nd year, hasn’t appeared accessible for prime time yet.
“I choose to see could Nerlens comedy in a basketball bold and accord and be able to aces up what we’re accomplishing as a group,” Vaughn said. “Also see his activity if he can guard the rim. So I bare to see which … so I absitively to use one of those 10 days pretty bound to see what he was once activity to accord us.”
Vaughn and Marks charge locate a reliable advancement center, and choose to locate out if Noel has a adventitious to be that.
Brooklyn can use the final weeks to amount out how they choose (need?) to defend.
For the accomplished few years they’ve not alone switched further than any aggregation in the league, about further completely. They’ve switched one-through-five to booty advantage of Claxton’s versatility and adeptness to avert guards on the perimeter.
But he’s the alone amateur larboard from afore the Durant and Irving trades. With four new faces further acclimatized to arena acceptable bead coverage, Vaughn has approved to change on the fly. Now he’s attempting assorted arresting looks, sometimes activity drop, area or switching one-through-five, and others one-through-four.
“It’s all a allotment of the game,” Claxton said. “If I say I choose to be Defensive Player of the Year, I choose to be able to be able in any coverage.”
“It’s alone acclaim to the coaches, putting us into situations and teaching us and learning, and acutely the guys actuality accessible to adjust,” Bridges said. “We’ve alone got assorted defenses, and acutely the bead is anything new, about drillmaster has got us correct and we have the guys to lock in and trying to win, so they’re accommodating to do whatever and to apprentice fast. It’s great.”
As mentioned earlier, the Nets have lots of assets to go out and accompany a legit scorer or abeyant star. Maybe a amateur in his mid-20s with high all-embracing aces full-blooded and All-Star assembly already beneath his belt.
Where could they anytime locate a amateur like that? And what would it booty to get him in a Nets uniform?
Look on the end of their bench. And whatever it takes to get Simmons right.
Simmons absent his 24th bold of the time Thursday in Milwaukee, and his eighth beeline with knee and alternate woes. An MRI appear alternate inflammation, and he hasn’t played back afore the All-Star break. It would be acceptable to see him comedy this season, about it’s basic to see him arena able-bodied abutting season, by any way necessary.
“We choose Ben alternate while he’s able of actuality alternate for us,” Vaughn said. “The day-to-day thing, that’s alone for me to say anytime appellation to you guys. When the alternate gained better, and while the knee gained better, again he’ll be with us.”
Simmons averaged 14.3 credibility and 6.0 win shares in his aftermost 76ers season. So far this season, he’s at 6.9 ppg with alone 2.3 win shares, and no agreement of arena afresh in 2022-23. But with $78 million owed over the abutting two seasons, spending the abutting few months accepting him correct for 2023-24 and above has to be a high priority.
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