Mid-Summer TBG Roundtable: Free agency, Summer League and looking ahead

Photo courtesy YES Network

It is almost August, which means hectic free agency news is just about wrapped up. We know the Nets had their fair share of moves, with an overall positive reaction amongst the NBA. Now that Summer League is over and Sean Marks may be done working his magic, The Brooklyn Game crew went roundtable to touch base on the summer of 2018 and what we want to see next. 

Photo courtesy YES Network

The Jeremy Lin trade was one of Marks’ boldest moves this offseason. What are your thoughts on it and Brooklyn’s offseason as a whole?

Charles M.: On the Jeremy Lin trade, I feel that the move was necessary. It was needed to facilitate the Kenneth Faried trade, which netted the Nets another first round pick. While a team with a healthy Jeremy Lin was what fans have been dreaming of for the past 2 seasons, Lin’s value would’ve stagnated on the Nets, considering the point guard logjam. Lin was a great piece for the Nets to build their “culture” – and I’ll be rooting for his recovery and resurgence – but both he and the Nets are headed in different directions.

On the offseason as a whole, the Nets made moves to both compete now and build for the future. With the Dwight Howard deal, they emptied enough cap space to *potentially* go after free agents next summer and acquired a draft pick for next season as well. Additionally, the Nets acquired solid, rebounding bigs in Ed Davis and Kenneth Faried, and a veteran leader in Jared Dudley. They also took chances on Treveon Graham and brought back Joe Harris, the Nets’ best shooter. That roster has the potential to build and improve the team’s 28 wins last season.

Sandy M.: Solely from a business standpoint, the Nets made good moves by parting ways with Jeremy Lin and Isaiah Whitehead. They were already pretty jammed at both guard positions, and the return they got for Lin and Whitehead was rather impressive — draft picks upon draft picks.

However, there is one element to the Lin trade that I just cannot glance over, and it is that prior to the trade, Marks appeared insistent on the roster remaining intact heading into the season. I am sure that has more to do with him wanting to conceal his future agenda, but it also makes me wonder if the Nets have deviated from their emphasis on “high character” just a bit. Lin (and many of the Nets’ players and fans) were caught off guard when he was traded, and the trade occurred out of the blue. At the very least, we must acknowledge that this was not fair to Lin, in the sense that we assume he was not properly informed prior to the trade. That makes me question what to believe in terms of Brooklyn’s future agenda.

Jimmy E.: This Nets offseason just reaffirmed the faith I have in Marks. Rewinding to 2015 when Marks took the job, Brooklyn had no picks, no cap space and a roster filled with scrappy veterans. Fast forward to today and Marks has gotten the Nets a first-round draft pick every year he has been in charge (as well as two first round draft picks for the upcoming season), enough cap space to make Brooklyn a lucrative free-agent landing spot, and a young roster that is looking to improve. The Nets acquired the likes of Jared Dudley who is the stretch four the Nets have been looking for. Kenneth Faried and Ed Davis are some intimidating guys to go up against every night, as well as Shabazz Napier who is coming off his best season to replace Jeremy Lin. If I had to grade this offseason I would give it an A+.

Elizabeth S.: The Lin move was something that seemed inevitable in terms of Brooklyn setting up for the summer of 2019. In addition, Marks moving Whitehead brought a return that fits into the same mold of making room for next offseason. Once the news came out that Brooklyn would buy out Dwight Howard, the teams’ following free agency moves all made sense — collect picks and leave the space for next summer. Marks executed that plan, and it has Brooklyn set up well if it attracts free agents next season. 

Do you buy Sean Marks’ remarks that tanking isn’t in the equation for next season?

Charles M.: Well, the Nets will definitely be competitive. But the team is only slightly improved compared to last season. The Nets did not add much in terms of talent, so they will be banking on improvement on their young pieces — Russell, Allen, Caris LeVert, etc. Brooklyn will be exciting and it competes, yes. I know — this is a post-LeBron eastern conference, but there is still talent the Nets may struggle against every night.

Sandy M.: Despite Brooklyn’s lack of success the last two seasons, Nets fans could be comforted just a bit, knowing that the team had no reason to tank since it did not own its own draft picks. The circumstances have changed, as the Nets have emerged from the disastrous effects of the 2013 blockbuster trade. While it would be nice to see Brooklyn continue in its path of playing hard every night, I anticipate Marks’ plan may depend on how the season progresses. If things start spiraling out of control, I do not see why he would not want to take advantage of landing in a potentially high spot in next year’s draft.

My worry is not so much in the Nets tanking; rather, I am worried about whether the Nets will unintentionally tank. This has unfortunately happened the last couple of seasons, due in large part to the many injuries that plagued the team. If Brooklyn does not continue this pattern of unintentional tanking in the 2018-19 season, that will at least — from an early standpoint — mean the team can stay healthy. That is what I will be keeping my eye on this season.

Jimmy E.: I do believe the Nets will be going for it this year. This young core was good last year; they rarely got blown out and were in contested games for most of the season. But one can chalk up the 28 wins to inexperience, seeing as a lot of the players the Nets were banking on were in their early 20’s. One more year of experience and chemistry with a new front-court should bolster this team into potential playoff contention. If it does not happen, it is not the end of the world, but the Nets will certainly aspire to be one of the last eight teams remaining in the Eastern Conference.

Elizabeth S.: The Nets can find purpose in tanking this season for the first time in a while, but I would be shocked if they actually tried to. Marks from the start has been intent on maintaining the competitive nature that exists in Brooklyn’s culture, and I do not expect that to change. With what the core of the team showed last season, I do not think the players would allow tanking to happen, either. It is not in their blood. 

The Nets did not win a game in Summer League, leaving Las Vegas with a 0-5 showing. Were your expectations higher?

Charles M.: The Summer League was embarrassing. I was excited about some draft pick action, or some LeVert and Jarrett Allen. But Allen barely played, the draft picks and LeVert did not play and at times, the Nets looked like the least exciting team in Summer League. The biggest highlight, Yuta Watanabe, signed with the Grizzlies. Other highlights like Shawn Dawson and Theo Pinson will be G-League guys at best. The Summer League, in my opinion, was a whole lot of nothing.

Elizabeth S.: The injuries put a damper on Summer League, but I was most impressed to see how much of Brooklyn’s current roster came to support the team in Vegas. In the past, maybe two or three Nets would make an appearance, but this year nearly the entire roster was there. That spoke a lot in terms of the team’s cohesiveness and the dedication to building a strong foundation and bonding with everyone involved. 

As of where Brooklyn’s roster stands now, what other moves would you like to see the team make this offseason?

Charles M.: Sign a big man! The Nets have all 15 of their roster spots filled, but they could sign a big to one of their two-way contracts. They don’t have any 7-footers on their team right now (though Allen is close), and that needs to change. Even if the big they sign plays minimal minutes, it’s a good insurance policy and a good move for development.

Sandy M.: What the Nets have done so far this offseason is rather impressive, so it is tough for me to further nitpick. I mean, it is obvious Brooklyn will not be bringing home a championship any time soon, so the roster obviously is not going to look out-of-this-world heading into the season.

So far, the Nets have done a great job at alleviating players who have not had much of a role on the team, while bringing in new talent. Timofey Mozgov and two future second-rounders were shipped to Charlotte for Dwight Howard (who did not last very long before being bought out), and the team now possesses the highly-commended Kenneth Faried and Ed Davis. Need I remind you about just how unhappy Mozgov was in Brooklyn? (Side note: It is kind of crazy how much a guy who is getting paid $16 million a year has bounced around in the last two seasons.)

With that said, fine — I’ll nitpick just a little. Jahlil Okafor could use a new home.

Jimmy E.: I do not think the Nets need a major roster move at the moment. It is clear Brooklyn is content with the roster it currently has and a small pickup in an area of need looks like the play here. If the Nets wanted to bolster their front-court a bit more, I would see if Greg Monroe is available for cheap. He is still very talented and looked pretty good the times he did play this season and having Monroe, Faried, and Dudley would be a huge upgrade from last years front-court.

Elizabeth S.: I will follow up on some of the same thoughts from above — the Nets could use another big. Davis is a great addition to help mentor Allen, but the front-court could take a bigger step with one more piece. We will see if Marks makes any moves or if he stays put for the rest of the summer.