NBA Draft/Free Agency Preview: Brooklyn Nets are All-In with Jason Kidd
The NBA landscape has rarely seen as much shakeup as it has seen amongst teams with coaches who either made the playoffs or won at least 45 games. Along with Lionel Hollins, Vinny Del Negro, George Karl, Larry Drew and the combination of Avery Johnson and PJ Carlesimo for the Nets, these are all coaches who got their teams to the playoffs and/or led their teams to franchise-best seasons, and are out of a job. So as the 2013-2014 season gears up this fall, the Nets are turning to Jason Kidd to steer this sometimes rudderless ship that is the Brooklyn Nets. And it is literally a win-now and all-in venture, because the Nets pushed their chips to the middle of the table with the roster that was compiled by GM Billy King in the summer of 2012.
The Nets are in a relative financial quagmire as it relates to the NBA’s salary cap. In fact, the Nets are shaping up to be one of the league’s highest luxury taxpayers in 2014, at the current rate. To go along with the rather disappointing end to their regular season and playoffs in 2013 – a 1st Round ouster at the hands of the severely depleted Chicago Bulls – the Nets do not have much in the way of wiggle room which with to make transactions this offseason. They are well over the cap, luxury tax threshold, and tax apron, which precludes them from utilizing the league’s full mid-level exception. Additionally, luxury taxpayers are prohibited from engaging in sign-and-trade deals, which further restricts King’s options to amplify the team’s talent base.
Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams represent the Nets’ core of players. Each of them are making at least $10 million per season, with all but Wallace earning a “max” salary. Additionally, the team is going to be entering the second of a two-year deal with F Kris Humphries that pays the first big man off the bench $12 million in 2013-2014. In other words, the Nets are going to look much like they did in 2012-2013 and are hoping that Jason Kidd can take the bunch that Johnson and Carlesimo failed with, and integrate the player chosen with their 22nd pick in the 2013 Draft. Kidd will almost certainly look to exploit the talents of G MarShon Brooks, who was highly touted entering the NBA, but has mostly languished on the bench without being given a chance to shine.
With regards to moves that the Nets would make, Wallace’s contract is unmovable. Brook Lopez is the franchise center. Williams had a shaky season, dealing with injuries and clashes with coaching. The only movable piece is Humphries and his contract, which is set to expire in June 2014. If the Nets are unable to get under the luxury tax threshold, they will not be able to engage in any sign-and-trade transactions. That scenario would force the Nets to have to count on the 22nd pick to have an immediate impact as a supporting role player.
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