The Nets are fond of soon-to-be free agents Nicolas Batum and Evan Turner, NetsDaily tweets, also confirming earlier reports of the team’s interest in Mike Conley and DeMar DeRozan. Brooklyn only has about $45MM in guaranteed salary committed for next season against a projected $89MM cap, and without a 2016 first-round pick thanks to the 2013 Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce deal, making improvements via free agency will be that much more important to the Nets. Still, questions remain about Brooklyn’s ability to attract marquee talent to a franchise that’s experienced declines in winning percentage three years in a row.
Batum is in the midst of a career year, having taken to Charlotte in his first season there after the Trail Blazers dealt him to the Hornets over the summer. It’s no surprise to see the Nets have interest in the 27-year-old who’s averaging 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 34.8 minutes per game, especially since Bojan Bogdanovic and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are the team’s only wing players with fully guaranteed contracts for next season. Still, re-signing Batum will no doubt be a high priority for Charlotte, and the Bouna Ndiaye client has said that his fondness for Hornets coach Steve Clifford, who signed an extension this fall, “could be a big factor” in his decision.
Turner is a more surprising object of Brooklyn’s interest. He started most of the season for the Celtics last year, but he’s made only four starts this season, including the past three games as he’s filled in for an injured Avery Bradley. The former No. 2 overall pick has failed to live up to his draft position since joining the NBA in 2010, and he signed with Boston in 2013 for just $6.704MM over two years. The rising salary cap and a better performance with the Celtics than he gave the Pacers before signing his last contract should push the David Falk client’s price tag higher this summer, but compared to Batum, he’ll likely be much more obtainable.
Complicating matters is the unsettled situation in the Nets front office, where GM Billy King is on a contract that expires at season’s end. NetsDaily has countered a European report indicating that owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants CSKA Moscow team president Andrey Vatutin to succeed King. Nets CEO Brett Yormark, who’s apparently a major proponent of recruiting John Calipari back to the organization in a role that would likely include player personnel power, has begun to speak more often about the team’s basketball operations, as NetsDaily has also pointed out.