The Nets have it all on paper.
Stars (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving). Quality younger players (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen). Draft picks (net even on future first-rounders).
But Brooklyn’s road from upstart contender has been rocky.
Irving tested the Nets with his moodiness before the season. He also called it “glaring” Brooklyn needed roster upgrades. The Nets fired Kenny Atkinson, who had proven adept at player development but evidently never connected enough with Durant and Irving.
How will Brooklyn take the next step?
I believe they’ve telegraphed that they intend to try to use some of their young talent to acquire a third star along Kyrie and Durant. Now, we can get enter a healthy debate here about whether Caris LeVert is that third star, and they may make the decision that he is. But my feel and reading the tea leaves, paying attention to what Sean Marks has said and also being aware of some conversations that they had at the trade deadline, which was some sticking the toe in the water on some things, I think that they are going to swing for the fences whenever the offseason comes.
I also believe the Nets will try to trade for a third star. It’s the natural direction of a team that just signed two stars, and Irving appears antsy.
But I’d also caution: Every team wants another star. Brooklyn engaging teams about their stars before the trade deadline isn’t necessarily telling. It could be easy to overstate the significance of those conversations. It depends on their tenor.
That said, the Nets have expendable assets to make better offers than many other teams.
Dinwiddie hasn’t clicked on the court with Irving in two-point guard lineups. Best with the ball, LeVert is somewhat redundant with Durant and Irving. Allen has been repeatedly slighted in Brooklyn, most recently losing his starting job to DeAndre Jordan (Durant’s and Irving’s friend).
Yet, Dinwiddie, LeVert and Allen are all talented with potential to perform even better elsewhere. That ought to intrigue other teams.
Star trades usually require a disgruntled star. Teams rarely move a star without an internal push, including an approaching free agency. There’s no obvious target right now.
But expect the Nets to be on the prowl.