NBA

Where is Brooklyn? … All-in !

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One of the things Nets fans have missed in all of this drama and melodrama is the summer fun that comes with the draft and free agency, a time of renewal after a tough season. Kevin Durant’s trade request, coming days after Kyrie Irving opted for the final year of his contract and a day before free agent signings began, took away all that traditional optimism. all that enthusiasm.

However, in the days following KD and Kyrie’s double-hit, Sean Marks and the Nets came out and did some work: they re-signed Nic Claxton (two years on a guaranteed $17.3 million contract ), and brought back Patty Mills (two years at $14.5 million,) gave Kessler Edwards a new contract (at two years and $3.6 million), used the commercial trade exception of James Harden and a first-round pick to acquire Royce O’Neale; signed two former Pacers who were just injured, TJ Warren and Edmond Sumner, to check minimum offers and took a chance on ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams, giving him a round trip early that they never signed a two-way.

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But amidst the noise, no one cared. And who could blame them (us?) It looked like the Nets were about to lose basketball’s greatest player and his superstar sidekick who, between them, has three rings, four Olympic gold medals, 19 All-Around selections. -Star and 13 other All-NBAs. The Clean Sweep was a memory, maybe even a joke. No matter how bad – and at times unbearable – the 2021-22 season was, it would have been a monumental management disaster, perhaps even unprecedented in the history of professional sports.

Now, with a cooler head prevailing and Kumbaya as good a nickname as any for the upcoming season, it’s worth looking at where Brooklyn stands. Aside from KD for four years and Kyrie for one, the Nets may have their next top five players – Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, O’Neale, Claxton and Mills, all under contract for at least two more years, Simmons for three. Seth Curry is on an expiring contract but the Nets can extend it, if they wish, for two more years and $17 million. The team’s two promising rookies, Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe have three years left on their contracts. Warren has a one-year deal, Sumner a two-year deal with lots of options.

The contracts, other than Irving’s, align with the Nets’ desire, as their statement puts it, to build “an enduring franchise.” And if they choose to do so, the Nets can extend Irving at any time through the summer when he will be an unrestricted free agent.

They also have six openings on their training camp roster, most in the league, including two standard deals, one home and three 10-pieces, likely to Long Island. Expect some of these to be filled in once Sean Marks returns to Brooklyn. (The first thing we can hear is the status of David Duke Jr. who could wrap up with a standard deal, his preference.)

They don’t have cap space, but they have the taxpayers’ $6.5 million MLE that they can use anytime this season and can cut to pieces. (The amount decreases after January 10.)

As commentator after commentator announced on Monday, the Nets have a top…pick one…best roster in the East, top four or top five in the NBA. That, of course, remains to be seen, but the Nets improved their defense with the addition of Simmons and O’Neale (plus Claxton’s retention), helped their shooting with the return to health of Curry and Harris (the first two 3 – NBA point shooters by percentage) and even got a bit younger.

They will also enter this season, barring a trade, with the most continuity they have had on the roster since the Clean Sweep. The roster is unlikely to have 10 new faces like last season. Despite rumors of a housekeeping in the coaching staff and front office, there was actually little coming and going there as well. The Nets lost three assistant coaches, the much-discussed Adam Harrington and David Vanterpool who weren’t renewed and Jordan Ott who got a better job with the Lakers. Amar’e Stoudemire was basically a part-time coach, not an assistant coach. On the front office side, only scouting operations manager Matt Riccardi left, again for a better job in Dallas. We will miss Ott and Riccardi but overall not a massive turnover.

Of course there are still needs to be filled, questions to be answered, sometimes in the same sentence like, Do the Nets need another big one if Simmons is going to play 5, for example. Same thing with a backup playmaker. What about a veteran leader like Jared Dudley or Jeff Greene or Garrett Temple?

And let’s not forget that KD, Kyrie and Ben10 didn’t play a second together and neither did Harris and Curry. What will chemistry look like? Are we likely to see the TJ Warren who averaged 31 points in the “Bubble” or a physically impaired player?

These are ALL good questions, but much more fun to talk about than whether Kevin Wayne Durand and Kyrie Andrew Irving will wear black and white again. It is all good. We can pretend it’s July 1 and we’re all young again.

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