The Milwaukee Bucks have won the NBA Finals, coming back from 0-2 in the series against the Phoenix Suns. From the Brooklyn Nets’ perspective, the Bucks winning is a mixed bag of emotions. On one side, they did lose in a Game 7 to the eventual champion. On the other hand, the Nets were a Kevin Durant big toe away from possibly winning the NBA Finals.
Now that this shortened 2020-2021 NBA season is officially over, it’s time to look towards the next season and retooling an already stacked roaster. This offseason is about finding the right pieces that may have been missing last season and focusing on the ultimate goal of an NBA Championship. To do that, we have to look over what the Nets have right now headed into the offseason.
For the most part, the Brooklyn Nets coaching staff is mostly the same as last season, except for Ime Udoka, now the new Head Coach of the Boston Celtics. Steve Nash, of course, is back for his sophomore year as the Nets Head Coach, and both Jacque Vaughan and Mike D’Antoni, are back as his lead assistants. Both received interest from other teams to become Head Coaches, but both decided to come back to the Nets, which is a good sign. Both Assistant Coaches play a significant role in forming the game plan with Nash and offering guidance, as they have both been head coaches before.
Players Under Contract for 21-22
The Scary Hours big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving will, of course, will be back next season to have their first entire season together. Joe Harris is the other starter who is still under contract going into next season, after signing his 4-year 75 million dollar contract last offseason. Other notable names under contract for next season are DeAndre Jordan, Landry Shamet, Nicolas Claxton, and Alize Johnson. Out of that group, only Shamet and Claxton played legit playoff minutes, which calls into question what the Nets will do with the rest of the roster. At the moment, the Nets have the roaster fluidity to build the right team around their big three, with the first official offseason with them on the roaster.
Spencer Dinwiddie Will Most Likely Leave
The biggest name that could be leaving the Nets is, of course, Spencer Dinwiddie, who officially opted out of his contract for the 21-22 season with the Nets and will become a free agent. He missed just about all of the 20-21 season after having ACL surgery and seems to be looking to make close to $20 million a year with whatever team he signs with. That price tag could take the Nets out of the running, having 89% of their cap space tied up in Durant, Harden, Irving, and Harris.
Free Agent Role Players
Both Bruce Brown and Mike James are restricted free agents and played regularly throughout the playoffs. Both have proved to be quality role players, and if another team offers them more money than the Nets can match, the Nets could likely lose both in free agency. Jeff Green and Blake Griffin have both been in the league for some time and now seem to be on the “ring chasing path.” Even though they are both free agents, the likely hood of them accepting more money to be on a non-championship contender is less likely than Bruce and James. Both Griffin and Green played massive roles on this team and will hopefully come back, but they proved to have still a lot left in the tank and could sign with another championship contender. All four of these players proved they are good enough to be on an NBA roster and could have played themself into more money.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Tyler Johnson are both most likely out of the team, and the Nets will try to replace them with better quality players. There was a lot of buzz around Luwawu-Cabarrot coming into this season because of his NBA Bubble performance, but he severely underperformed on both sides of the court. Johnson was given some minutes throughout the season, but when Mike James and Johnson played a similar role for the team, James was a little better in the minutes he was given. If James does stay, Johnson could be the odd man out in the Nets backcourt.
The Brooklyn Nets, as of right now, have four draft picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, the 27th pick in the first round, and then three second-round picks, the 44th, 49th, and 59th overall picks in the draft. Last offseason, the Nets flipped their draft picks for both Shamet and Brown, players that played a substantial role in the playoffs. They did trade away the rights of Saddiq Bey, who had a productive rookie year with the Detroit Pistons last season and has shown potential as a two-way three and D player. The Nets likely do something like last season to get more proven role players, rather than hope that you draft an immediate impact player. Because the Nets’ only focus is to win an NBA title, this might leave little time for development, meaning a draft pick might hardly see time on the court.
This offseason, the Nets have the opportunity to build the right team around Durant, Harden, and Irving, as they didn’t have the chance to last season. Hopefully, General Manager Sean Marks will find the right pieces to fill in role players that fit this team.
Photo: NetsDaily/ Elsa/Getty Images