Last season the Brooklyn Nets roster was in flux for a better part of the season. After the trade for James Harden, which was a no-brainer, the Nets lacked depth and solid role players for the long season.
On top of that, the Nets needed to find their identity within the big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. While also finding players who could play a role in an identity that was yet to be established.
Now that this team has more of an identity, this offseason can be focused on filling in the gaps.
Finding the right players is vital for a championship team. It is hard to do that in the middle of the season.
It is crazy that this team was a big toe away from beating the NBA Champions Milwaukee Bucks in a Game 7, and it is crazy how good this team can be with a real offseason plan.
This team is already one of the best teams in the league, with three of the best offensive weapons in the league on one team. On top of that, they have shooters like Joe Harris and Landry Shamet, who can take advantage of the open space of the court that the big three create. This offense will be incredible next season, but the question will always be on the defensive side of the ball.
Addressing the needs on the defensive side of the ball with veteran three and D players could add a whole other level to this team that was tapped into a little by Jeff Green. However, the most crucial thing the Nets can do to help on the defensive side of the ball is figure out the carousel of bigs that started at the center position last year.
Finally, just adding better players to the bench would be a massive upgrade. Because the Nets had to retool in the regular season, they did not have the options they will now, and with the possibility of a ring, they could get some players on the cheaper end of the spectrum.
Possible Re-signs for the Nets
Both Jeff Green and Blake Griffin signed with the Nets for veteran minimums, and it would be awesome if they stayed. Griffin ended up being the starting center in the playoffs, which could have been enough to get a championship. Griffin is the perfect player for this team; he can win 50/50 plays with hustle, his offensive game fits the team with shooting and playmaking ability, and his frame makes him solid defensively. Green is in the same boat, and both played as the perfect role players for this team. They both had a good season and might have played themselves into more than the vet minimum. They are both in the backend of their careers and will play for a contender rather than get paid more, so hopefully, they stay.
Re-signing both Bruce Brown and Mike James might be difficult, as they are restricted free agents and played themselves into money. Keeping Brown brings toughness to this team and a defensive edge that this team needs. He also plays a unique role that might be hard to fill, almost as an offensive big but a defensive guard. James was often used as the secondary playmaker off the bench, and with this team, it is not necessary to have that, but it is still positive. Hopefully, if not both, at least one can stay and then try to replace the other with free agent vets.
It would be awesome to re-sign Spencer Dinwiddie, almost as the fourth star of this team, but his minutes will drop now with Harden on the team. He is a good player and will command a pay raise, making it hard for the Nets to keep him.
Signing a Starting Big is a Must
The Nets have DeAndre Jordan and Nicolas Claxton on the books as a possible starting center, which isn’t bad or good. Claxton showed flashes of being an excellent player throughout the season but is still raw and might not be ready to be a starter. Jordan is a difficult conversation because he makes around $10 million and doesn’t get any playoff minutes. The Nets need an upgrade at the position to secure a Finals appearance.
Now re-signing, both Griffin and Green could fit into this role, as they both started at the position throughout the season, but it still would be nice to have an upgrade, moving them to the bench. Serge Ibaka will be the best option if he decides to decline his player option with the Los Angles Clippers. It might be a stretch, as he made around $9 million last season, but if the Nets could talk him down with a promise of a ring, his defense and three-point shooting would fit right in.
More reasonable names would be JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo. The issue is that these players might be too similar to who is already on the roster, but if Jordan isn’t going to get minutes and Claxton takes some time to improve, they could be a placeholder. Also, both are solid defenders, and when bigs are the best player on the other two Eastern Conference contenders, you need players to throw at them.
A Winger Defender
Green can fill this role and is a three and D player, but you could never really have enough the way this NBA is played. Along with the fact that you might be able to get some guys for cheaper than other teams with the promise of a ring, why not. James Ennis, Torrey Craig, Reggie Bullock, Maurice Harkless, Sterling Brown, and David Nwaba can play a role as an added wing defenders and be okay shooters.
Signing just one of these players boosts the team to a different level. These are options to replace Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, who struggled a lot last season. Getting a proven player to fill in this role could prove vital in the regular season as Durant takes days off and play 15 minutes to offer rest in the playoffs.
To Fill Out the Bench
Filling out the bench with quality players is a must to make a long run into the playoffs. The Nets struggled with injures in the playoffs and will probably offer their stars rest days in the season to keep that from happening again. J.J. Reddick was rumored during the last deadline as a possible trade option of the Nets, and it seemed like if he were to be cut, he would end up in Brooklyn.
James Johnson is not a great shooter but could be a primary defender off the bench and be a secondary playmaker for the bench unite. This team needs to figure out who can play a role to support the big three, and they have the opportunity to do that now and become a fantastic team.
Draft Night Trades
Finally, the Nets have four draft picks in this draft, and similar to what they did last year in acquiring Brown and Shamet, this pick could add more quality role players instead of drafting a player and waiting for them to develop.
It would be good to have rookie talent on this team, but if a trade is available to get an established player, the Nets will most likely choose that route.
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