TBG Offseason Mailbag! Nets Trades, Playoff Wishes, Snacks, The Durant Chase, & More

Good snack. (AP)
Are Deron Williams & Joe Johnson here to stay? (AP)

With the offseason almost over and the Nets stuck in between re-signing everyone they want and trading everyone they can, it’s high time we bring back an old TBG tradition: the mailbag. We asked you to send in your questions, near- and far-reaching, on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTBG, or e-mail them to [email protected].

Thanks to you, our lovely readers, we got a fair number of questions right on the first shake. Here’s my best stab at giving you chosen few wrong answers.

Let’s start with our lone e-mail, from Dan M. Lesson to you all: E-mails get priority.

With the abundance of point guards, do you think Billy King has something up his sleeve? Do you think he would cut or stretch Deron even though he previously said he wouldn’t?

I don’t think the Nets would stretch Deron Williams. As David Aldridge of NBA.com said, the Nets don’t seem willing to pay someone $43 million to not play, especially someone who is still an average producer at a position that’s still a weakness for the Nets. The Nets have Williams, who is clinging to a starting spot, and four point guards best suited as backups or emergency fill-ins. Quantity does not equal quality, and acquiring Steve Blake and Shane Larkin does not make Williams any more or less expendable than he was before.

It is safe to say that the Nets have and will continue to explore every possible trade avenue for Williams with the hopes of securing a deal. Whether or not it happens is up to an opposing team banking on Williams having a bounce-back year in a new situation, and valuing that risk at Williams’s $20 million-plus contract, plus his trade kicker — which will actually matter once the salary cap spikes — plus whatever players or pieces they’d send back to the Nets. Whether or not they find a taker for that is another matter entirely.

It’s possible, but unlikely. The Nets already have 16 players under contract. 12 of them have guaranteed contracts, while Earl Clark, Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson, and newly-signed Ryan Boatright are on non-guaranteed deals. Barring something unexpected like a trade or injury, I’d expect the Nets to pick up the options on Jefferson and Brown, bringing them to 14 players. It’s also odd to imagine them signing Boatright unless they thought he had an inside track to the 15th spot. Alexander has significant upside, but beyond getting a possible training camp invite, any future with the Nets is hard to project.

You can hope, but I wouldn’t be too optimistic. This Nets team sorely lacks perimeter scoring; last year’s Nets team was among the league’s six worst in three-point shooting, and it looks likely that they’ve replaced Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson with non-perimeter threats Thomas Robinson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. If Joe Johnson & Deron Williams go, that’s two more shooters off the roster. Just ask the Warriors & Cavaliers how important long-range shooting is.

The Lopez/Young tandem will help them win a few games alone, but a disillusioned Brooklyn’s Backcourt playing out the end of their contracts and a collection of mid-level players isn’t the core of a playoff team even in the weaker Eastern Conference. Hollins’s biggest task at this point is to ensure that the team stays engaged enough to remain competitive for the entire season, even as the house gets torn down.

Purely speculative: I think the Nets talk themselves into dealing Johnson, even though his expiring contract is actually kind of valuable to them at this point. It’s a Catch-22: the Nets severely lack shooting and perimeter scorers, and their best trade asset is their best shooter & perimeter scorer.

Their best hope is that Johnson’s huge expiring deal incites a bidding war, and someone looking to contend ends up overpaying with legitimate long-term value at the deadline. Their worst hope is they have to sell him for pennies on the dollar that add up beyond this season, hampering their flexibility in next season’s free agent market. (More on that later.)

I don’t think the Nets find a suitor for Williams, given his large two-year deal. But he could be valuable next summer as an expiring contract: remember, the salary cap is going up again from 2016-17 to 2017-18, possibly by another $20 million-plus. That coming off the books won’t hurt.

I’ll give you one guess as to the geolocation of this tweet.

Seriously though, Hezonja looks legit. The Magic were one of those teams last year that should’ve been a lot of fun, but Aaron Gordon getting hurt threw a wrench in those plans. But now? They’ve got Oladipo, Tobias Harris (underrated), a healthy Gordon (who’s dominating meaningless games in Orlando right now), a young, weird point guard in Elfrid Payton, and Hezonja, who might already have more confidence than anyone in the league. You’ve got to like a guy who makes a go-ahead three on the first day of Summer League and then throws down this a couple of days later.

Leadership is the eighth- or ninth-biggest snag with this roster. More important: they’re trying to trade everyone, they don’t have any dead-eye long-range shooters, they lack versatile interior defenders outside of Thaddeus Young, who ranked as the NBA’s worst rim protector by Nylon Calculus’s metric, and their depth isn’t as deep as it looks on first glance. Whether or not guys talk in practice won’t matter if they can’t hit shots in games.

Good snack. (AP)
Good snack. (AP)

So here’s the inherent problem with this question: rarely do I spend less than five minutes on a food I feel like I’ve “made.” I don’t think throwing together a few ingredients into a sandwich or popping a lahmajun in the microwave counts as “making” food. (For the record: Assadourian Lahmajun is the One True Lahmajun, which you can find at internet relic website Lahmajun.com.) I’m also a carnivore, and to make any good meat-centric food, you need time. You can’t slow-roast a pig in five minutes, you can’t sear a steak in 30 seconds. You need to give those the tender love and care they deserve, which includes the time it takes to heat up a surface. When I grill chicken wings it normally takes over an hour and it is worth every juicy second.

But if you want to feel like you’ve made something in five minutes that doesn’t take a ton of prep time and doesn’t feel like your standard food, I’ll go with a style rather than a specific recipe: smoothies. Please don’t close this browser tab yet. When you’re looking for speed (i.e. not tender, juicy meat), you’re not looking for taste — you’re looking for efficiency. Unless you’re making smoothies, because you can make some of the most delicious things known to man with a solid blender and the right ingredients.

If you want one to fill you up, go with one banana (in chunks), a couple scoops of peanut butter, 8oz of milk (anything from almond to whole — that’s on you), a dash of honey, and two tablespoons of protein powder if you’ve got it. Or get a bag of frozen berries (anything mango or strawberry is a good place to start) and use that to replace the peanut butter. That’s basically my breakfast these days. It takes legitimately four minutes to put together and you’ve got something that tastes good AND is good for you.

Also: coffee. Wait, what am I talking about? Coffee all the way. Forget everything I said about smoothies. Praise be to coffee.

Robby is wrong. Look, I get the basic idea: popcorn isn’t a perfect food. It actually has the potential to be one of the worse foods, because of the inevitable moment when one of those goddamned half-kernels gets stuck on the underside of one of your teeth and you spend the next 15 minutes fishing at what feels like a miniature sharp tongue with your actual tongue. That legitimately stinks.

But Robby — in this case Robby Kalland, friend of The Brooklyn Game and CBS college football & golf connoisseur — is a madman. Popcorn is fantastic. It’s salty, it’s crunchy, you can find it sweet if that’s your bag, it’s on the healthier side of snacks, and you can eat a boatload of it without feeling guilty. Do not buy into the anti-popcorn rhetoric from the deepest recesses of the Georgian south. You will deeply regret it when you’re fistfuls into ketchup-flavored chips, contemplating why you’d so dishonor your taste buds with the deepest abominations of snack foods.

Answering these two above questions together to remind you we have a beautiful post on the Best Places To Eat Near Barclays Center. These aren’t just random places culled from Yelp: these are places I’ve legitimately tried and recommend.

That said: we’re updating that list soon with our new favorite spots — another BBQ place and a sushi restaurant make the list.

They’d be trade exceptions.

Doubtful — it’s more likely they end up with a power free agent of a different ilk — but that won’t stop us from hearing about it at least 2,000 times in the next 300 days. Everyone is prepping for the Summer of Durant — the Nets have been for years — but a potential deal for Joe Johnson may throw a wrinkle in their already-tenuous plans.

As of now, the Nets have about $69.1 million committed to 12 players next season, which can be whittled to $66 million by declining options on Brown, Jefferson, and Boatright.[note]They can whittle it further, to a little under $64 million, by declining the fourth-year option on Sergey Karasev, which they have until the end of October to decide on.[/note] If they ended up trading Johnson, any money coming back will add to their 2016-17 cap, further limiting their space.

With the 2016-17 cap estimated at around $89 million, a max deal for Durant would come in at around $25 million — which would be just about everything they could offer a free agent even if they renounced everyone possible. It is hard to imagine Durant leaving his situation in Oklahoma City to join that roster. No matter how much he likes popcorn.

Have a question for the mailbag? Use the hashtag #AskTBG on Twitter or shoot an e-mail to [email protected].