It was made official Thursday that Sean Marks cut a deal that sent Justin Hamilton to the Toronto Raptors for DeMarre Carroll and two future picks. This deal could end up being more than a pure salary dump for both sides.
This is the second largest salary that the Nets have absorbed over the past month. The first was Timofey Mozgov, who was coupled with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, D’Angelo Russell. In short, the Nets took on an extra $78 million in salary over the next three seasons to restock their assets.
Carroll’s contract impacts the Nets’ short term cap as opposed to the Mozgov deal. In the Lakers deal, Brooklyn acquired Mozgov’s $16 million annual salary and Russell’s $5 million rookie scale cap hit. Those salaries together are identical to Brook Lopez’s $21 million salary for this season. Therefore, the Nets’ cap space this summer was barley effected by the first “salary dump.”
With the Raptors trade, Brooklyn added around $11 million to its books. Hamilton is due to make $3 million on an expiring contract this season while Carroll is owed $14 million. The extra $11 million likely didn’t affect this summer’s free agency plans too much. The Nets had already lost out on their top targets, and Otto Porter’s offer sheet had been matched hours before this trade transpired.
From a monetary standpoint, the Nets will not take too big of a hit this summer. Until Carroll’s contract expires in 2019, only time will tell if his salary will create issues.
Aside from analyzing the contracts involved in this deal, there are several other interesting angles. Let’s break down each piece:
Many went into last season with high hopes for Hamilton. He was deemed a stretch five who, at the time, was yet to receive a real NBA opportunity. Yet, in an offense where even Brook Lopez thrived on shooting the long-ball, Hamilton was never quite able to find his footing.
It’s hard to imagine Hamilton turning into much more than a third string center. The former LSU Tiger struggled to find minutes for portions of last season, which is hard to believe when considering the variety of players who were able to find an opportunity in Brooklyn. Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson took several shots in the dark last season, trying to acquire talent any way possible. Yet, the Nets’ management saw Hamilton and his small salary as expendable, likely signaling a lack of progression since he signed with Brooklyn last summer.
Even in games where he saw starter level minutes, Hamilton failed to show much. His most impressive performance of the season was on opening night in a hard-fought loss to the Boston Celtics. Fans rejoiced following this performance, thinking the Nets may have just found a diamond in the rough. However, this was not meant to be as Hamilton would go on to shoot an abysmal, 4-16 from behind the arc over the next five games.
This seemed to be a theme for Hamilton; having an impressive performance followed by several games with more freedom, but little positives. He rode the bench for portions of the winter, leading to one final opportunity to showcase his talent in the final game of the season. In true Hamilton fashion, he played 30 minutes while shooting 4-11 from the field and 0-4 from behind the arc.
To reinforce Hamilton’s poor play last season, he ranked dead last in almost every three-point statistical category among qualified centers. His 30 percent mark from behind the arc and 55 three-pointers made on the season are both last among qualified centers according to ESPN. Out of all qualified players, Hamilton ranked 164 out of 169 in three-point shooting percentage.
Combine this with lackluster glass eating skills and poor defense (he essentially cost the Nets a game against the Bucks in October), and the Nets aren’t losing much in him. It’s been reported that Hamilton was released by Toronto soon after the trade occurred.
Justin Hamilton and Toronto Raptors part ways, the player is reportedly on Valencia's radar.https://t.co/MSyJqxnaJR
— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) July 10, 2017
Carroll is no doubt the most interesting part of this deal. Many have written him off, as the Raptors ultimately gave up two picks to shed the $30 million remaining on his contract. However, it’s very conceivable that five years down line, the public will view Carroll as the real prize of this deal and picks as the icing on the cake.
Carroll is bringing his impeccable fashion game, in addition to a versatile on-court skillset to Brooklyn. The former Vanderbilt Commodore is coming off of two rough years in Toronto. The first season of his four-year, $60 million deal was plagued with injuries. He was able to pick up the slack slightly last season. Carroll was never quite able to showcase the talent he did in Atlanta for the fans up north.
The idea behind bringing Carroll to Brooklyn shouldn’t purely be to wait around until his contract expires. Provided Brooklyn is cautious with his minutes and Atkinson carves out consistent minutes for him, then there is hope that Carroll can once again become the player who tortured the Nets in the first round of the 2015 playoffs.
Atkinson’s spacing and three-point centric offensive system should be a perfect fit for Carroll. The Nets’ offensive schemes are synonymous with the Mike Budenholzer’s style of coaching the Hawks, where Carroll saw some of his best seasons.
The Nets attempted around 30 threes a game as a team last season, while Atlanta shot 26 per contest on a very high percentage during the 2014-15 season where the team placed first in the Eastern Conference. This also happened to be the season where Carroll broke out, shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range while attempting over four threes a contest.
The Hawks’ and Nets’ styles of play are both opposites of the Raptors’ iso-heavy offense, which involves Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan creating their own shots. Operating under the logic that Carroll is the type of player who needs a specific system to succeed, he should thrive in Brooklyn.
The Nets also walked away with a lottery-protected first round pick and a second round pick, both in next year’s draft. These assets have been touted by some as the biggest positive for Brooklyn in this deal. Yet, it’s difficult to bet on a non-lottery pick ultimately contributing more than a player who can and most likely will start for the foreseeable future in Carroll.
If the Nets have shown anything in their draft strategy since beginning this rebuild, it’s that they are at least going to give the team an opportunity to land a star. Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Chris McCullough all have or had a sky-high ceiling when first drafted. With the picks acquired in this trade bound to be low, expect nothing different next June.
Ironically enough, NBAdraft.net has the Nets taking Rodions Kurucs (a personal favorite of mine) with the Raptors pick at No. 23 in their 2018 mock draft. Other intriguing prospects projected to go in that vicinity are Rawle Alkins, Trevon Duval and Hamidou Diallo, a player who was strongly linked to the Nets before withdrawing his name from last June’s draft. There seems to be a lot players with upside available in next year’s draft, as over half of the first round is projected to be freshmen.
The second round is extremely hard project at this point with college basketball season still four months away. Yet, some interesting players who are currently slated to go near the second round include Allonzo Trier, Grayson Allen and Omer Yurtseven.
The draft, of course, is still a long way away. Yet, it will be reassuring for the front office to have a full year to scout prospects projected to be available in a particular range, as opposed to acquiring a pick at the trade deadline. The highest the Nets’ newly acquired first round pick could be is 15, but if the Raptors remain consistent with recent seasons, that pick is bound to fall in the 20’s.