Something weird is going on this offseason, the Nets are actually making smart moves *cue gasps*. Seriously though, it appears that Nets management finally realized that building for the future was the best thing for the team (something the Knicks can’t say they are doing). What’s interesting about all of this is how the team has been taking on bad contracts in order to build for the future.
Before I go into detail about that, allow me to provide a bit of context. See, ever since the Kingpin, Billy King was kicked out of town last year for ruining another city’s basketball team, the Nets have started to move in a much better direction. Sean Marks was hired to be the team’s General Manager in King’s place, and has made an array of sneaky good moves since.
Whether it was turning a half a season in Bojan Bogdanovic into a first round pick, or showing the willingness to take on bad contracts for future value, Marks and company have been killing it so far.
Speaking of eating other team’s bad contracts as of late, that is the main thing that inspired me to write this piece on the Nets. There’s of course, the D’Angelo Russell trade (which I discussed recently).
The Nets didn’t stop there, though, as they proceeded to essentially trade for Demarre Carroll and his bad contract while getting two future draft picks (a lottery protected first, and a second rounder for next year’s draft). The picks aren’t that great, but at least the team got some decent pieces to work with. What’s funny about this deal though, is how Carroll’s contract isn’t as terrible as it appears to be.
Sure, his contract does pay an average of $15 million through the 2019 season, but seeing as how a lot of free agents have gotten hefty contracts recently, the one Carroll has isn’t a total albatross.
Admittedly, Carroll isn’t that good right now, but he could still manage to bring his value up due to the increased role he’ll likely have in Brooklyn. This could then possibly result in him being swapped for both a bad contract, and a second round pick or even a decent player in need of a change in scenery.
I think the idea of taking on bad contracts in exchange for young talent/draft picks is a great idea for rebuilding sports teams. However, not every team would be able to pull this off, specifically in the NBA. That’s because with the two trades the team made, they will owe both Carroll and Timofey Mozgov a combined average of $30,080,000 the next two seasons.
To put that into a cap-hit perspective, the team is using up 35.2% of their salary cap on JUST those two players. That basically means that in order to pull something like this off, a rebuilding team would need to make sure they don’t overpay for players you don’t need *cough, cough Knicks*.
Once that happens and there’s a lot of cap space, they can do aspiring contenders a solid by taking on contracts the other guys really wish they could take back. This would basically be done in exchange for future value that won’t help contenders as much as clearing up their cap.
Look, lets be honest here, the Golden State Warriors are gonna be in the NBA finals (and likely win) for the next three seasons at least (christ, that’s depressing).
That basically means that teams like the Nets would be smart to basically hibernate for three years by stocking up on assets any way they can. The team couldn’t build for the draft much this past one (and won’t be able to for next year’s either), so they went the creative route in doing what they’ve been doing.
I believe the Nets may have one more bad contract left to take on, and there are many routes they can take to do so. For example, now that the Wizards matched the Nets offer sheet for Otto Porter Jr., the Wizards are now well over the cap limit. However, they feel they can add more pieces and make a run at the Eastern Conference.
In order to accomplish this next year, they may want to target star Center Demarcus Cousins in free agency. Signing Cousins could be a possibility, as that would reunite him with his former Kentucky teammate in John Wall. Maybe the Nets could take on Ian Mahinmi‘s $16 million a year for a high upside player like Kelly Oubre Jr.
Obviously that is all just an idea more than anything, but the point is that the team can most certainly build a nice, young core that can contend in the next few seasons. The most impressive part of this is how this can all be done in spite of how the team hasn’t had a valuable first round pick in years.
Baseball fans saw how the Astros and Cubs started the trend of baseball teams with bad futures embracing the tank in order to stockpile future assets.
What will be interesting to follow in the next few years for basketball fans though, is if the Nets start a trend of their own. If this form of rebuilding works out for the Nets, don’t be surprised to see rebuilding NBA teams go follow the blueprint the Nets are putting in place this offseason.