State of the Union
The Brooklyn Nets are coming off of a 35-37 season and a 7th place finish in the Eastern Conference. The Nets were 22nd in the league in Offensive Rating and 10h in Defensive Rating, good for a Net Rating of -0.2, 15th best in the league. It is safe to say that the 2020/2021 season will look a lot different than this past season, however. With the return of Kevin Durant and, presumably, a full bill of health for Kyrie Irving, as well as a new head coach in Steve Nash, there are some real lofty aspirations in Brooklyn. Surrounded by a supporting cast of Caris Levert, Jarett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, Garrett Temple and Deandre Jordan, this team should contend for a top spot in the East. Some pivotal question marks this offseason include the unrestricted free agency of Joe Harris and the fit of Caris Levert with these two superstars. Additionally, this team figures to be deep in the luxury tax that could impact offseason decisions, as they only have the tax payer mid-level to bring in any non-bird rights free agents. On the court, the Nets have some questions as well. Will Jarrett Allen continue to start at center, or will they make the switch to Deandre Jordan? How will Steve Nash do in his first time ever coaching? Will Kevin Durant be back at 100% healthy, or will there be lingering effects from his devastating Achilles injury?
Salary Cap Analysis
-Current Cap Room: ($50,388,149)
-Max Cap Room: ($29,078,858)
-Projected Cap Room: ($48,750,875)
-Path to a Max: Virtually Impossible
-Best Contract on the Books: Kevin Durant. Any time you can have one of the three best basketball players in the world on your team, that’s a good thing.
-Worst Contract on the Books: Deandre Jordan. With the understanding that this contract had to be signed in order to sign the two superstars, this contract still doesn’t warrant the production by Jordan. With a solid young big like Jarrett Allen more than capable to start already on the books, this deal just pushes the Nets further into the tax and is resources that could have been more efficiently allocated.
-Team Needs: Shooting, Defensive Minded Wings, Backup Four
Potential Offseason Targets: Joe Harris, Maurice Harkless, James Ennis
The Big Question
What do the Brooklyn Nets do with Caris Levert? Do they believe that he fits with the Big Two and can that third piece on a title team? Or do they view him as their best trade chip in acquiring a potential star, such as Bradley Beal? Levert had a bit of a breakout Bubble, as he was tasked with being the number one option on an offense craved roster. But with the bulk of the shots going to be going to Durant and Irving, some feel there is too much overlap in Levert’s game. The starting lineup would fit much better with sharpshooter Joe Harris starting at the two, meaning bringing Levert off the bench. But do you really want to bring your third most talented player off the bench and risk alienating him to the coaching staff? Also, speaking of Joe Harris, what kind of deal does he command this offseason? With not a lot of teams with real cap space he might get squeezed, but all it takes is one team to offer him. $14-$16 million annually, as shooting is a hot commodity in the league these days. Is ownership ready to spend big, with a roster already deep past the smaller than forecasted luxury tax line? Finally, is Steve Nash ready to man the sideline for a team heading into a Finals or bust season? Time will tell.
-19th Pick: Tyrese Maxey, Cole Anthony, Saddiq Bey, Tre Jones
-55th Pick: Lamar Stevens, Abdoulaye N’doye, Nick Richards
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Nick Thoreson is a young professional working in finance who is passionate about the NBA and especially all things salary cap related.