The Brooklyn Nets are the clear winners of this year’s NBA offseason

Ben Sewell Roar Pro

By Ben Sewell, Ben Sewell is a Roar Pro

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    From the Paul George acquisition by the Oklahoma City Thunder, to James Harden and Steph Curry’s Super-Max deals, this offseason has been one for the ages. But there is one team who will be walking away happiest when the smoke clears and that is the Brooklyn Nets.

    Dubbed by many as a dumpster fire of a franchise when this season ended and they yet again were forced to relinquish their first round draft pick (first overall) to the Boston Celtics due to a previous deal from 2013 by then manager Billy King that most consider to be one of the worst trades in NBA history.

    However, with Sean Marks at the helm, the Nets have rebounded in such a spectacular way that some analysts are even positioning them to be one of the teams in the East to watch out for in a few years.

    To truly understand the magnitude of their offseason, we must revisit the 2013 offseason. On July 12, 2013, the Brooklyn nets leveraged their future by trading away their 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 first round draft picks for the ageing collection of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

    This at the time was considered to be a ‘win now’ deal for the Nets who could pair these future hall of famers with their current all star back court of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. The first season of this experiment actually worked reasonably well, as the Nets made the play-offs and beat the Raptors in the first round, only to lose in five games to LeBron’s Miami Heat.

    The following season, things began to fall apart. The team was one of the oldest teams in NBA history and injuries began to take their toll. The Nets finished with a record of 38-44 and scraped into the finals in eighth position, only to be bumped in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks.

    On top of this, the squad who had all been over payed in a desperate attempt to remain relevant, forced the Nets way over the salary cap and into luxury tax. That offseason, the Brooklyn Nets paid $80 million just in luxury tax, still to this day an NBA record.

    This forced the hand of management and the team was blown up, with stars Johnson, Williams, Garnett and Pierce all let go. The Nets were starting over, but with none of their own future draft picks. NBA suicide in this day and age.

    Fast forward to this year’s offseason and after finishing with a league worst record of 20-62, the Nets were once again sending their pick Boston’s way. The Nets were the worst team and had been so for the past two season, while having zero to show for it. 2018’s pick is also going to the Celtics and no free agent wanted a bar of Brooklyn.

    The team was in a shambles. Enter Sean Marks, who set about putting together one of the best offseason’s in NBA history.

    Marks surely would have been tempted to use the cap space he had and aim high for every free agent in this year’s class. Instead he smartly used his cap space to absorb some of the NBA’s worst contracts in exchange for pieces he could use.

    It’s a win-win for teams who are seeking cap space and have no other way to get large contracts off their books. So a few days before the draft, Marks, pushed the go button on a league changing deal, absorbing Timofey Mozgov’s monstrous contract for former second overall pick De’Angelo Russell.

    Russell, a guard considered by some to be one of the most exciting youngsters in the league was headed to Brooklyn who at last, had a piece to build around!

    Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell

    (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    This in itself would have been enough to qualify the Nets a great offseason, but Marks was not finished there. With careful planning, he put together an absolute landmine of a ‘max contract’ for Otto Porter, the Washington Wizard’s Small Forward. He knew the Wizards would match it and therefore, weakened a potential future contender of the Nets in the Eastern Conference.

    The contract stipulates key points like paying 50 per cent of the year’s wage before the NBA season begins, a 15 per cent trade kicker and a fourth year player option. In today’s tight salary cap climate, this contract will really limit the Wizard’s options going forward and they have Mark’s to thank/blame for that.

    Lastly but equally as impressive, Mark’s absorbed another bad contract in Demarre Carroll in exchange for future first and second round draft picks. The Raptors absolutely needed Carroll off their books after maxing out their own cap situation with the resigning of Kyle Lowry. In this deal, the Nets not only get picks to use in next season’s draft, but they get a stable Small Forward who can shoot the three and defend multiple positions.

    So at last, Brooklyn Nets fans have reason for optimism heading into the future and it’s all thanks to Sean Marks. He pulled off three amazing moves this offseason which simultaneously weakened Brooklyn’s opposition’s future and improved their own.

    If you’d asked analysts at the beginning of this season which team was in the worst position heading forward, everyone would have said the Brooklyn Nets and they’d have been right to do so. Ask that same question today and you’d be lucky to find a single person who’d agree with that. The Nets are trending upwards at last and they have Sean Marks to thank for that.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • July 18th 2017 @ 7:08am
      Rossy said | July 18th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      Marks is making good smart moves but they didn’t have the best offseason. Superstars like Butler are cost controlled below their value and are exceedingly rare. If you can get one of them for as little as Minnesota gave up it’s a huge win.

    • July 18th 2017 @ 7:49am
      KingCowboy said | July 18th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

      Great article Buddy, I’m a massive Celtics fan and it was criminal what Trader Danny stole off the Nets back in 2013 but Marks is doing a great job with the Nets. I might be wrong but he came from the Spurs didn’t he? Hopefully they have another year of being really bad as we get their first rounder again this year!

      • Roar Pro

        July 18th 2017 @ 8:37am
        Ben Sewell said | July 18th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        Yeah mate, he was assistant GM in san antonio for 3 years. He’s doing an amazing job atm. And something i didn’t realise until recently is he’s a Kiwi too.

    • July 18th 2017 @ 11:34am
      mushi said | July 18th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

      Their first good offseason for some time sure. It’s the best he could do with a bad hand, renting out cap space for a nice haul, but gee that’s a lot of hype for a guy who is yet to validate his draft position, a system shooter and a late round pick.

      This was the worst team in the league last year, they’ve lost their only average level starter and replaced him with two below average ones, one of whom plays the same position as their only other starter quality player in Lin.

      Russel might blossom offensively, but it is tough to see the super star in him when he’s good but not great at many things and his athleticism limits his ceiling on the defensive end.

      The starting line-up currently looks something like Mozgov/Booker/Carroll/ Lin or HJ/Russell. That looks like a strong bench unit…

      You just can’t recover quickly from the hole the draft picks got them into (it worried me that a commodities based billionaire who worked in finance didn’t value the optionality)

      • Roar Pro

        July 18th 2017 @ 12:36pm
        Ben Sewell said | July 18th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

        To go from where they were to where they are, I believe deserves credit. Totally agree however, they’ll be awful again this yr.

        • July 18th 2017 @ 3:53pm
          mushi said | July 18th 2017 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          Sure they deserve credit but I think that lineup is still going to collecitng ping pong balls (unfortunately for someone else)

          They are going to have to get heavy big man minutes out of Mozgov and Booker and play small a lot without any real advantage at the wing spots.

          • Roar Pro

            July 18th 2017 @ 4:24pm
            Ben Sewell said | July 18th 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

            I think Hollis-Jefferson and LeVert can be good wings in this league.

            • July 19th 2017 @ 9:40am
              mushi said | July 19th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

              Depends on what the threshold for good is? If it is a role playing contributor off the bench or a starter who can hold down the 5th spot then sure. That would be well above expected value for non-lottery picks, let alone in their 2nd and 3rd years.

              But an average level starter – I don’t see it. It’s almost certainly not happening this year and it’s highly improbable it ever will.

              Both are just not good enough at the offensive end as shot creators or shooters to be a plus starter. RHJ will have a role as solid defender but I can’t see him making a jump at the other end as anything more than a hard working off the ball finisher and tireless 5th option.

              LeVert has more game on that end, but nothing special compared to the res tof the league, and isn’t the same defender. Him becoming a quality role player this year would be an a more realistic improvement

    • July 18th 2017 @ 12:00pm
      Lachie Abbott said | July 18th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

      The fall of the Nets should also be attributed to the ownership of the franchise. Their Russian owner came in with the ‘win now’ mindset, prompting the front office to swing for the fences. However, after a couple of decent seasons his mentality totally changed and wanted to get out of the heavy luxury tax that burdened the team as you mentioned. This shift in mentality totally screwed the team as we have seen and is demonstrative of the importance of good ownership. But Sean Marks is doing a great job of using that cap room to take on risks instead of waiting to get his draft picks back. Sadly for the Celtics, they won’t be the worst team in the league next season.

    • July 18th 2017 @ 1:49pm
      astro said | July 18th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

      “One of the best offseasons in NBA history”…Slow down there!

      The Nets did fine this off-season. A solid ‘C’…but hardly anything which qualifies them as ‘winning’ the offseason.

      The Russell/Lopez trade was a good one for both teams. Russell is a young guy with talent, but has a lot of improving to do, especially if he’s someone the Nets are hoping to build around. His decision-making is questionable, and his defense is terrible…but he looks like a natural shot-maker which helps.

      But don’t forget what Russell cost the Nets…Lopez was their leading scorer and best player last year. He’s a versatile big man, who is a good passer and who found a 3pt shot last year. He’s also an expiring contract, which is a valuable commodity in todays’ game. If the Nets had held onto him, they may have even been able to trade him for more, but nevertheless it was a good trade.

      As for the Carroll trade…I’m not a fan. Carroll is half the player he once was, and essentially the Nets simply received a mid-round pick to take on all that cash. Not much in return, so I’m not so sure that’s a wonder trade.

      And finally, the Porter offer hardly made Washington weaker. Sure, it removed some cap flexibility, but the Wiz would be much weaker without Porter, who is only just coming into his prime years. I can’t see how the Nets won, by not signing Porter…

      • July 19th 2017 @ 9:41am
        mushi said | July 19th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Yep the porter deal was a simple max contract. I’d imagine every RFA gets the front loading, option and trade kicker.

        It wasn’t some morey level poison pill

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