NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
The Nets had nothing.
Now, they have everything.
At least on paper.
Not long ago, Brooklyn was lousy, old, deep into the luxury tax and without its own first-round pick for years to come. Several lost seasons obviously loomed.
But the Nets made the most of those losing years. They drafted well with their limited picks, acquired more where they could and identified players off the scrap heap. Importantly, they instilled a culture of hard work and development.
The rise was slow, but given the circumstances, quicker than expected. Brooklyn made the playoffs last season.
The Nets parlayed that moderate success into a monumental offseason, luring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. Those stars vault Brooklyn onto a whole new level. It’ll probably take until 2020-21 when Durant recovers from his torn Achilles, but the Nets are primed to enter the thick of the championship chase.
Most teams must strip their roster to spare parts to open the cap space for two max players. Remarkably, Brooklyn didn’t.
The Nets still have a huge chunk of the young players who helped establish the culture that attracted Durant and Irving. Caris LeVert (No. 35 on our list of 50 best players in 5 years), Jarrett Allen (No. 44 on our list of 50 best players in 5 years), Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa all return.
Yes, Brooklyn had to part with D'Angelo Russell (No. 28 on our list of 50 best players in 5 years). The Nets also had to surrender two first-rounders in their salary dump of Allen Crabbe.
But that trade with the Hawks also netted Taurean Prince, a solid young forward. Brooklyn got a protected first-rounder from the Warriors, too. With a draft-night trade of the No. 27 pick to the Clippers for a less-protected first-rounder, the Nets are +1(ish) in future first-round picks.
Those young players and picks could be helpful in building a championship-level supporting cast around Durant and Irving. That could be through the players and picks developing or via trade.
In the meantime, Brooklyn enters a limbo year with Durant sidelined. Irving is the clear top player with young teammates around him. That didn’t go so well in Boston. There is a chance the Nets fare worst next season than they did last season, and chemistry would become a huge question amid a backslide.
There are so many new faces down the roster:
- Out: Ed Davis, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jared Dudley and Shabazz Napier
- In: DeAndre Jordan, Garrett Temple, Wilson Chandler, David Nwaba and No. 31 pick Nicolas Claxton
Jordan (four years, nearly $40 million) is one of the summer’s worst contracts, though it’s completely justifiable as a cost of getting Durant and Irving. Chandler is already suspended.
Durant is also on the wrong side of 30 and seriously injured. There are legitimate reasons for concern.
But the Nets will gladly take these problems over the ones they were facing just a few years ago. Waiting another year for everything to come together is no problem, either. Brooklyn is still way ahead of schedule.
Offseason grade: A