Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blowing Up the Brooklyn Nets: What If?

Disclaimer: what you're about to read may be upsetting, shocking, laughable, pathetic. You may laugh, you may cry, you may punch a hole through your computer monitor. But chances are, if you've been following the Brooklyn Nets this season, you've been experiencing these feelings a lot lately.

Again – this post is not meant to be taken seriously. It is purely a "what if?" scenario that is almost completely impossible.

I'm not saying there's no hope. It is still (somewhat) early in the season. Jason Kidd is still learning. There have been a lot of injuries. Players haven't had that much time to gel. The Nets play in the Eastern Conference and therefore do still have a legitimate chance at the playoffs.

But then what? Another first round exit? What happens after?

Kevin Garnett will most likely retire at the end of the season. Paul Pierce will either retire or leave for another team – probably the Clippers, if anybody. There won't be any draft picks nor any cap room, so the Nets can't acquire anybody else unless it's through a trade. Brooklyn will be stuck with this unit for the foreseeable future.
Photo courtesy USA Today Sports


What if we blow this team up?

Look, I'm not saying that the Nets should completely blow this team up. But if they were to do it, the piece you're about to read is how they should do it.

Please, before lashing out, realize that all of this is a pipe dream. I do not think that it is realistic and neither should you. 

So here we go. Blowing up the Nets.

Step one is to fire Billy King. He's just made too many mistakes. When your team is losing as badly as the Nets are, you need some fresh blood in the front office anyway. Good riddance.

Now, here's where things get interesting.

The Nets will trade away every single player besides Joe Johnson and Mirza Teletovic.

No more Deron Williams. No more Pierce, KG, or even Andray Blatche. No more Brook Lopez either.

Time to make some crazy trades.

The Nets trade Deron Williams and Andray Blatche to the Lakers for expiring contracts and a pick

The Lakers have been almost as unfortunate as the Nets with injuries this season – so bad that they've had to run Nick Young at the point guard. It's unlikely that the Lakers can make a playoff push this season, but this trade puts them closer and it sets them up for next year. 

They get a real point guard for the first time in a very long time. Phil Jackson is gone; there's no need to run a triangle offense anymore and a Deron-Kobe backcourt could be lethal. Steve Nash can retire gracefully, Pau Gasol gets out of this soap opera situation and is free to return to the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason, Kobe Bryant gets a real superstar to play with who won't have to shoulder the burden, and Jodie Meeks returns to his rightful spot on the bench. 

Prying a first-round pick out of LA will be the toughest part of making this trade happen, but Williams' proven capability and Blatche's upside could be enough to make the proud LA franchise bite. I genuinely think the Lakers front office is both arrogant and desperate enough to pull the trigger on this. The Nets acquire LA's first round draft pick, currently projected by experts to be from #11-13.

Draft pick count: 1

The Nets trade Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Mason Plumlee, Tyshawn Taylor and Shaun Livingston for expiring contracts and a pick in a three-team trade with the Wolves and the Kings

Both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Sacramento Kings have been active this year and shown that they're looking to be major players. They're in two different situations – Minnesota needs to make a move for a playoff push and Sacramento is trying to get good really fast – and both are viable trade candidates. 

Minnesota misses Kirilenko pretty badly. If they had a quality wing player, they wouldn't have to run out Corey Brewer and Robert Hummel so often. Pierce provides key veteran leadership to a team that needs it and helps improve the Wolves' outside game. Things could be different this time around for Pierce, who will now be basically the only veteran on this team instead of one of too many. Minnesota also gets a serviceable backup combo guard in Shaun Livingston. 

The Kings add depth to their backcourt, which right now has Isaiah Thomas and basically nothing else. They also get another project forward in Shabazz Muhammad, who could definitely turn into a pretty good player. Owner Vivek Ranadive has already shown that he likes to make moves and clear out guys that he has no use for, so giving up Marcus Thornton is a no-brainer. Making the Nets give up Plumlee was the hardest part about this trade, but the Kings really needed one last piece to give up their lottery pick.

Again, the draft pick will be the toughest thing to get out of the Kings, but I believe their management is desperate enough to get things going quickly and there just might be enough pieces here to get Ranadive to agree. The Nets acquire the Kings' first round draft pick, currently projected by experts to be the #4-5 pick.

Draft pick count: 2

The Nets trade KG, Reggie Evans, Alan Anderson and Toko Shengelia to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and a pick

This trade puts Oklahoma City over the top and makes them the favorites to take down the Miami Heat and win the championship. 

They've been trying to unload Perkins forever and Sefolosha has regressed in a big way this season. OKC gets Garnett, a veteran big man who will be effective in very limited minutes. They get to swap Sefolosha for Anderson, who is an improvement in every way, especially for how the Thunder use Sefolosha. Both guys are (allegedly) good perimeter defenders who shoot threes, and Anderson is a clear upgrade for the Thunder over a rapidly declining Sefolosha, whose three-point percentage has dropped each of the past three years, and by almost 10% since last year
They also get Evans, who will give them help off of the glass, and Shengelia, who would waver back and forth between the NBA and the D-League and could perhaps be a project for Scott Brooks

Oklahoma City has two picks in the first round this year; they're the deepest team in the league and get even deeper with this trade, so they definitely don't need both of them and should be more than willing to part with one, especially with the Nets relieving them of Perk and Thabo. Nets fans, I am no happier than you about acquiring Perkins. But here's a fun fact: did you know he's actually one of the better rim protectors in the league?

Draft pick count: 3

The Nets trade away Brook Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko for DeAndre Jordan, expiring contracts and a pick in a three-team trade with the Clippers and the Cavs

In a lot of ways, this was the hardest one to do. The Nets have put so much stock in Brook Lopez and have relied on him a lot in terms of thinking of the franchise's future. But with three broken feet in four years, the Nets have to wonder whether or not it's time to cut their losses and ship Lopez out. To be honest, he's probably sick of playing for this team anyway.

The same goes for Kirilenko. He's looked nice in the few games he's played in black and white and it's probably unfair to just give him away, but he'd be better off. AK came to Brooklyn to win now. Brooklyn can't give him that chance.

If you love something, set it free.

LA gets the wing player they wanted when they were seeking out Paul Pierce in Kirilenko. They also get a defensive upgrade in the paint in Varejao and finally cut ties with DeAndre Jordan, who has been in trade rumors almost as frequently as Iman Shumpert. The Clippers need a big desperately; now they get two strong centers.

The Cavs unload Varejao and Miles and acquire the superstar center they've been looking for since the departure of Zydrunas Ilgauskas. This is definitely the kind of team to take a gamble on a center. This also gives them a lot of leverage in their wooing of LeBron James. They'll gladly give up their pick to get Lopez – they've completely botched almost all of their picks in the past few years, anyway.

The Nets really have no choice but to say goodbye to Brook. As much as it pains me to write this, I'm not sure what Lopez's future really is. He's broken his foot three times in the last four years, and bigs with broken feet don't last long in the NBA. He's drawing comparisons to Yao Ming. It's time to let him go.

Brooklyn gets a very solid center back in Jordan, plus Miles' and Wayans' expiring contract free up some cash for free agency. They also get a pretty sweet draft pick.

Draft pick count: 4

So, this is what the Nets new lineup would look like. Asteriks denote expiring contracts:

PG: Steve Blake* / Tyshawn Taylor / Maalik Wayans*
SG: Joe Johnson / Marcus Thornton / Alexey Shved
SF: C.J. Miles* / Thabo Sefolosha* / Gary Forbes
PF: Pau Gasol* / Dante Cunningham* / Shawne Williams*
C: DeAndre Jordan / Kendrick Perkins / Hamady Ndiaye*

That's a tanking team if I ever did see one.

After the season, all expiring contracts depart and the Nets now have nine freed up roster spots to go along with four picks in the very deep 2014 draft. To review, the Nets have the ~#4-5 pick from Sacramento, the ~#8 pick from Cleveland, the ~#11-13 pick from the Lakers, and the ~#22-29 pick from Oklahoma City.

Here's where things get interesting again. The Nets don't need four first-round picks. So Brooklyn trades away one of its draft picks, the LA pick. 

Who's looking for a draft pick in the first round this year? A team that could be looking for a first-rounder this year is the Memphis Grizzlies. With their season derailed by injuries and a crowded frontcourt, Memphis is looking to rebuild and has been rumored to be trying to trade Zach Randolph for most of the season, with Brooklyn as one of the possible destinations that comes up often in these talks. Brooklyn swaps a pick for the strong rebounder.

Here's who the Nets will draft:

"With the 5th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets select Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State University," Adam Silver will say. Get ready for an entire career of people making puns about this guy's last name, because he is a very intellectual basketball players. He'll come into the NBA a lot more ready for primetime than many guys on the board because of his decision to stay in school and hone his craft for another year. Every scouting report out there raves about his team attitude and winner's demeanor. Smart has excellent size and will surely develop into a real leader someday. He has pretty much everything you want from a point guard. The Nets finally get their true franchise quarterback. I'm really excited about this guy.

At #8, the Nets select Indiana forward Noah Vonleh. Even with Z-Bo clogging the paint, I can very well see these two guys playing some minutes together: Vonleh is primarily a power forward, but can also fit into a role as a stretch/slashing four or a combo forward. Scouting reports everywhere say that he is a high character guy with a lot of heart, something that this franchise has needed for a very long time now. This kid has tremendous upside and is a great pick at #8.

At #29, the Nets take Syracuse forward Jerami Grant. The Nets would be lucky if he fell this low, as he has some major upside and is projected by some experts to go anywhere from #9-15, though most have him in the low 20s or even early in the second. At 6'8", he has a ridiculous wingspan of 7'2" and is a key piece on a highly successful Syracuse basketball team. He's already a pretty good defender, but his offensive game needs a lot of work and he's still overall pretty raw. Still, though, Brooklyn should definitely take a flyer on this kid if he's available.

Next comes free agency. As we all know, money is of little concern.

The biggest holes the Nets have at this point are a solid backup point guard, an experienced wing player besides Joe, and interior defense. Luckily, there are some of those ingredients on the market next summer.

To back up Smart, the Nets sign Luke Ridnour, who is almost an ideal backup PG and is widely recognized as such around the league. This will be a key addition and will make the Nets backcourt much more solid. He'll be 33 next summer, but his track record probably warrants a three-year deal. They need one last point guard to round out the roster. Patty Mills will come at a cheap price and can shore up that third spot.
Photo by David Moiron/Marca

To add some veteran presence at the perimeter, the Nets sign Shawn Marion to a one-year deal. Marion came to Jason Kidd's defenses a few weeks ago, and the two won a championship together in Dallas. Marion sticks around in the league for one last year to make a title run once again with Kidd and the Nets. He's also a great mentor for Jerami Grant.

To bolster up the interior defense, the Nets pick up Elton Brand. He'll be 35, but is still a terrific defender and has anchored a lot of teams. Brooklyn will pick him up for probably a 2-year deal. They'll likely have to overpay for him, but having Brand to come in and play defense will be well worth it.

Last but not least, Brooklyn finally brings in Bojan Bodganovic. We finally get to see what this guy is really made of.

So, here's what the opening day lineup for the 2014-15 Brooklyn Nets looks like:

PG: Marcus Smart / Luke Ridnour / Patty Mills
SG: Joe Johnson / Marcus Thornton / Alexey Shved
SF: Shawn Marion / Bojan Bogdanovic / Jerami Grant
PF: Zach Randolph / Noah Vonleh / Mirza Teletovic
C: DeAndre Jordan / Elton Brand / Kendrick Perkins

That's a pretty good-looking team, if you ask me. Johnson and Lee will handle the bulk of the scoring, while Smart is put in a position to succeed immediately and is a very good candidate for Rookie of the Year. Look for the key bench players and second unit to be Ridnour, Bogdanovic, Vonleh, Mirza, and Brand, with Perkins and Grant getting key minutes as well. Midway through the season, Thornton and Shved definitely become trade pieces.

Plus, the contracts of Thornton, Shved, Perkins, Marion, and Jordan would all expire after this season. This leads up to the potential signing of a certain small forward who recently signed with Jay-Z's Roc Nation and will be a free agent in 2016...

Photo by Bill Waugh/Reuters
So, what do you guys think? Is this idea just crazy enough to work? Let us know below.

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  1. Or they could just can Jason Kidd, hire Lionel Hollins and make something of this season!

    1. Malcolm said it was a hypothetical situation and probably isn't realistic. It's just a "what if" scenario.

  2. LOL NONE of those trades work. I like that you at least put some thought into it but this is crazy. You do realize Billy King won't be fired? It's not going to happen and the guy who traded a #1, #2 and the right to swap TWO more #1's for a salary dump. The guy who traded a guaranteed lottery pick for... GERALD WALLACE, then gave him a 4 year, $40 million contract. I'm not even going to talk about the Boston trade... You expect this guy to pull off anything close to this? Hahaha come on.

    I know you stated that this won't happen, but then why post it? Billy King won't be fired (during the season) so it's up to him.

    The LA trade is crazy. The Nets trade their one valuable asset and get nothing in return? Not to mention Blatche would NOT accept a trade to LA. If you're going to trade DWill then do the Houston trade. Lin isn't that much worse than DWill (despite what fans think of Lin). If you don't want Lin & Asik then maybe you can merge it with the OKC deal. Because there is also no way KG would accept a trade to OKC, and there is no way OKC would want him. He's old, slow and can't make a jumpshot OR EVEN A LAYUP... Do something like this:

    Brooklyn: Lin, Perkins, 2014 1st round pick from OKC (either OKC's or the protected Dallas pick they own) and either a 1st round pick from Houston or the Knicks 2014 2nd round pick.
    Houston: Deron Williams
    OKC: Omer Asik

    Houston gets DWill (sounds like they wanted him). OKC gets an upgrade of Asik and all they give up is Perkins and a #1 pick to the Nets. And Houston also gives us an extra #1 or earlier 2nd round pick. This is a trade that benefits every team and gets them what the want. And if Billy knew what he was doing he might be able to pull it off.

    You think the Kings would trade a top 5 pick in one of the most stacked drafts ever for.. THAT? Come on.. Really the best hope is the Nets do the move that I mentioned above and Lin can spark some sort of magic like he did with the Knicks. The Nets have the talent and personal they just don't have the heart and energy. Something Lin will bring to the table. So many fans and the like are either "stay with it and hope it works out" or "blow everything up".. How about the GM actually does his job and makes a move that benefits the team now and also helps with some of the problems we'll have in the future (no picks, no cap flexibility).. It only takes 1 or 2 moves to fix this s#it. Not "nothing" or a "complete blow up.." But I'm not opposed to blowing it up, especially if you can receive picks and young players, but other than DWill they really don't have much value (and if he continues to play the way he's been playing his value will continue to drop). Brook is out and his value has dropped considerably (for now). You can probably trade Peirce to Charlotte (or a team like that) for something like Ben Gordon and Portland's #1 pick. You're not going to get anything for KG, unless you take on a ridiculous contract and that's not what the Nets need. I say do the Houston trade, hopefully with the OKC addition I added to it. If not, then just do the original Houston trade with the addition of Houston sending us a 1st or early 2nd round pick. And do it before Houston realizes DWill isn't any better than DWill...

    1. Thank you, I appreciate the feedback. Again, this post is really just a "what if" scenario, just for fun. I don't really think the Nets should blow up the team. That OKC trade does seem pretty logical but it doesn't seem like Brooklyn is interested in Lin at all, that's why I didn't include Houston in this post. There have been rumors about Phoenix possibly trading one of their first round picks (they have 3). They could use some frontcourt help. Maybe there's a Nets Rockets Suns trade that involves Phoenix getting Asik and the Nets getting a pick.


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