The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.
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.
- Andrea Bargnani: Two years, $2.9MM. Signed via minimum salary exception. Second year is a player option.
- Ryan Boatright: Two years, $1.4MM. Signed via minimum salary exception. First year includes $75K in partially guaranteed salary and the second year is non-guaranteed. Waived.
- Wayne Ellington: Two years, $3MM. Signed via taxpayer’s mid-level exception. Second year is a player option.
- Shane Larkin: Two years, $3MM. Signed via taxpayer’s mid-level exception. Second year is a player option.
- Brook Lopez: Three years, $63MM. Signed via Bird rights.
- Willie Reed: One-year, $947K. Signed via minimum salary exception. Includes partial guarantee of $500K.
- Thomas Robinson: Two years, $2MM. Signed via minimum salary exception. Second year is a player option.
- Donald Sloan: One year, $947K. Signed via minimum salary exception. Includes partial guarantee of $50K.
- Thaddeus Young: Four years, $50MM. Signed via Bird rights. Fourth season is a player option.
- Acquired the rights to 2015 No. 23 overall pick Rondae-Hollis Jefferson and Steve Blake from the Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee and the rights to Pat Connaughton, the 41st overall pick in the 2015 Draft.
- Acquired Quincy Miller from the Pistons in exchange for Blake. Miller was subsequently waived.
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
The Nets as a franchise are still recovering from their ill-advised attempt to win a title by going all-in on an aging roster that never gelled. The aging group of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams won a total of one playoff series for Brooklyn during their tenure, and they cost the franchise numerous future first-round picks to assemble, which will serve to make the team’s current rebuilding process especially daunting. While I appreciate the verve the Nets had in shooting for the stars, the franchise has been set back years as a result.
Brooklyn is attempting to move on and pick up the pieces as best it can. All of the players from the ill-advised Boston deal are gone, as is Deron Williams, whom the Nets waived via the stretch provision this offseason, ending his difficult and disappointing tenure with the team. The point guard was acquired to anchor the franchise, as well as to drum up extra interest in the team since the Nets, moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, desired to make a dent in the Knicks’ hold over New York basketball fans. Injuries, a questionable work ethic and an occasionally combative attitude toward coaching sunk Williams, reducing him to a shell of the player he was while with the Jazz. Waiving Williams will cost the team $5,474,787 per season through 2019/20, but with the salary cap rising next season the team shouldn’t feel the sting that much. Plus, all parties are better served by breaking up and moving on.
Entering this offseason, the Nets’ plan was relatively straightforward. The team wanted to get younger, cheaper and to work its way from out of the pile of player-friendly deals that it had committed to with less than successful results. Depending on your perception of the values of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, the team was relatively successful at achieving this goal over the offseason.
Lopez, who had been the subject of copious trade rumors involving the Thunder for the better part of the 2013/14 campaign, is one of the top offensive-minded centers in the game, but he remains a constant injury concern, having missed a combined 160 contests over the past four seasons. But inking the 27-year-old to a three-year pact will temper the risk the franchise is taking, and the escalating salary cap will also serve to provide some breathing room for the front office, not only to try and build the roster around Lopez, but also to find a suitable fill-in if the big man were to miss significant time in the future due to injury. I’m not quite sure Lopez is worth an average annual salary of $21MM, given his less-than-stellar defense and merely adequate rebounding, but such are the economics of today’s game. Plus, he’s a player the Nets could ultimately not afford to lose, especially given their lack of future draft picks.
With the Nets unable to go after the top names on the free agent market this offseason, retaining their own players became paramount for the team if it wished to have any chance at remaining competitive in 2015/16. That mindset clearly influenced the team’s negotiations with Lopez, as well as unrestricted free agent combo forward Thaddeus Young. Young is a solid complementary player who hasn’t had the opportunity to play alongside much talent over the course of his career, and he remains underrated as a result. Young isn’t a franchise-altering talent, but if utilized the proper way, he can be a solid producer and valuable rotation piece. His four-year, $50MM deal, which includes a player option for the final season, is a fair one based on today’s market, though he’s destined to be a productive player on what are likely to be some lousy Brooklyn teams the next few seasons.
The team supplemented the signings of Young and Lopez with a number of smaller deals for players who aren’t likely to do more than fill a roster slot for the near future. Brooklyn added oft-injured power forward Andrea Bargnani, under-performing shooting guard Wayne Ellington, reserve playmaker Donald Sloan, combo forward Thomas Robinson, as well as promising young point guard Shane Larkin this offseason. I do like the addition of Larkin, a player who in the right system could be successful in the NBA. With Williams gone and Jarrett Jack the starter, the Nets need to improve at the one spot, and Larkin may offer a glimmer of hope in that regard, though his ceiling is likely of a solid reserve, and not a starting-caliber guard.
Brooklyn also took to the trade market this summer in an effort to reshape its roster, dealing away promising young big man Mason Plumlee to the Blazers in exchange for the draft rights to Arizona defensive whiz Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. This was a risky but interesting move by the team. Plumlee is a talented big who has the potential to be a breakout player, but he wasn’t a favorite of coach Lionel Hollins, and he will be better served by a change of scenery. But for the Nets to deal away their best option in the event that Lopez goes down again may invite some second guessing at some point down the line.
If the team did have to part ways with Plumlee, adding an uber-athletic wing who can defend multiple positions like Hollis-Jefferson was a solid move for the future. Likewise the team taking a chance on injured Syracuse power forward Chris McCullough with the No. 29 overall pick in this year’s draft. McCullough is extremely raw, with only 16 games of college experience under his belt, and some level of uncertainty exists about how well he’ll recover from the torn ACL he suffered last season. But if he is able to make a full recovery, the Nets landed themselves a player who had lottery potential at the bottom of the first round.
The Nets also needed to make a decision regarding Sergey Karasev‘s fourth year rookie scale option, and they elected not to exercise it. Karasev underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee in March, but he was ready in time for the start of this season. The 22-year-old nonetheless hasn’t been an integral part of the team’s rotation, and the Nets’ decision to decline the option despite their need to retain players says a lot about how the team values the Russian’s services. Rumors of his desire for a trade aren’t entirely surprising.
This is likely going to be a lost season for the franchise and its fanbase. The team likely improved its overall chemistry by parting ways with Williams, and it managed to tread water talent-wise by retaining Lopez and Young, though I doubt anyone would argue that this year’s Brooklyn squad is an improvement over last season’s. The team added some intriguing young pieces in McCullough and Hollis-Jefferson, whom the Nets desperately need to pan out, given their lack of draft picks and tradeable assets. The light on the horizon is that Brooklyn could have in the neighborhood of $40MM in cap space next summer, though it remains to be seen how attractive a free agent destination the team will be after what is likely to be a soul-crushing 2015/16 campaign.