Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.
- Andrei Kirilenko: Two years, $6.51MM. Signed via mini mid-level exception. Second year is player option.
- Andray Blatche: Two years, $2.81MM. Signed via Non-Bird rights. Second year is player option.
- Alan Anderson: Two years, $2.01MM. Signed via minimum salary exception. Second year is player option.
- Shaun Livingston: One year, $1.27MM. Signed via minimum salary exception.
- Acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and D.J. White from the Celtics in exchange for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans (signed-and-traded), three first-round picks, and the ability to swap 2017 first-round picks. The three traded first-round picks are for 2014 (lesser of Nets’ and Hawks’ picks), 2016 (unprotected), and 2018 (unprotected). White was subsequently waived.
- Mason Plumlee (Round 1, 22nd overall). Signed via rookie exception.
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
Don’t let the classic black and white color scheme fool you – the Nets aren’t into being understated. This summer, after being upset in seven games by the Derrick Rose-less Bulls in the first round, the Nets completely turned things upside-down on the sidelines and on the floor. P. J. Carlesimo, who took over for Avery Johnson midway through the 2012/13 season, was handed his walking papers less than 24 hours after the Nets’ season came to an abrupt end. Phil Jackson‘s name was mentioned frequently in the backend of the New York tabloids and on the sports radio airwaves, but the club turned to a future Hall of Famer and absolute coaching neophyte in Jason Kidd. Despite the raised eyebrows (and the personal frustration that we imagine Patrick Ewing felt), the Nets’ wild offseason didn’t stop there.
Weeks later, on draft night, the Nets shook hands with the Celtics on the most shocking trade in modern NBA history. Brooklyn landed Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans (sign-and-trade), and future first-round picks in 2014, 2016, and 2018. The Nets may have mortgaged their future, but the deal catapulted them from Eastern Conference also-rans to one of the most feared teams in the league.
Pierce, who gave the Nets fits as a member of the Celtics, gives the Nets a proven scorer alongside shooting machine Joe Johnson. He may not be the superstar that he was for the C’s 2008 championship squad, but he’s still a productive scorer and underrated rebounder. Garnett will require lots of rest at this stage of his career but he figures to give the Nets the kind of inside toughness that Brook Lopez has been unwilling or unable to provide. Reggie Evans won fans over last season with his general disregard for his well-being, but KG is an obvious upgrade at the starting four spot. Like Pierce, Garnett is no spring chicken, but he’s still one of the toughest defensive big men in the game thanks to his tireless work ethic. Terry may be the forgotten piece of the swap, but he can serve as one of many dangerous weapons off of the Brooklyn bench.
The biggest challenge for the new-look Nets might be sharing the basketball and keeping egos in check. If they can exhibit the ball movement that they showed in their home opener against the Heat, they’ll be giving opposing defenses a whole lot of trouble. GM Billy King and cap guru Bobby Marks will have to work hard in the years to come to infuse the roster with young talent after losing three future first-rounders, but it’s hard to find fault with the trade for the here and now.
Wallace seemed lost under two different coaches last season and with 13 years in the league, his body was showing definite signs of breaking down. Humphries was a hard-nosed rebounding presence and an efficient scorer for the Nets in 2010/11 and 2011/12, but fell flat last season and found himself 86’d from the rotation for much of the year. Brooks, who will earn less than $1.3MM in the final season of his rookie deal, has serious upside, but it’s debatable whether he could ever realize his potential in Brooklyn if he had to fight for minutes on their ultra-deep bench.
That intimidating second unit will be led by Andrei Kirilenko, who signed a one-year, $3.18MM deal with a player option for the following year. The Russian forward turned down a $10MM+ option with T’Wolves to sign on with Mikhail Prokhorov & Co. and the conspiracy theories immediately started flying. However, as far as we know, the agreement is kosher, and AK47 told me in early August that he’s not fazed by the whispers that he took money under the table from the Nets. The 32-year-old should provide the Nets with athleticism and scoring in bunches off of the bench, something the 36-year-old Pierce will certainly appreciate.
Kirilenko and Terry weren’t the only notable bench upgrades to come to Brooklyn this offseason. Shaun Livingston was brought aboard to spell star point guard Deron Williams – a role that will be even more crucial if Williams’ ankle acts up again. Alan Anderson was signed almost as an afterthought in late July, taking the league minimum to hook on with a winner. That’s a pretty decent bargain for a player who averaged 10.7 PPG in 2012/13. The Nets also tabbed Duke big man Mason Plumlee with their late first-round pick, but he’ll probably spend more time in Springfield, Massachusetts than Brooklyn, New York. Losing C.J. Watson to the Pacers hurts a bit, but overall the Nets’ new bench is the envy of the Eastern Conference.
While Watson bolted for a pay bump, the Nets managed to retain athletic big man Andray Blatche with a one-year, $1.4MM deal. If it weren’t for Kirilenko’s presence, Blatche’s contract would be the most shocking bargain on the Brooklyn roster. The 27-year-old signed a minimum salary deal with the Nets last season and while there were question marks about his attitude and work ethic, Blatche averaged 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds with a career high 51.2% field goal percentage. I expected the 6’11” center to fetch a more lucrative deal, but it’s possible that he chose comfort and a chance to win over money, especially since he’s still cashing checks from the Wizards.
The last time the Nets were championship contenders, they had Kidd as their floor general against a less-than-stellar Eastern Conference. Ten years later, they have Kidd (and Lawrence Frank) back, but they’re dealing with a much tougher road to the Finals. The Pacers and Bulls both look formidable, but the Nets have as good of a chance as them or anyone else of dethroning the two-time NBA champs.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.