The second round of the playoffs is underway and with only eight teams remaining, it means another eight have been eliminated from title contention. The offseason is the time for these teams to retool to prepare for deeper runs next season. The Brooklyn Nets finished the year with a 49-33 record, good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. However, their first-round opponent, the Chicago Bulls, surprisingly beat them at home in a Game 7.
The Nets season didn’t start off too well: Avery Johnson was fired after just 28 games, Deron Williams looked and played like a shell of himself, $12-million-a-year-man Kris Humphries lost the starting job, and it was all documented on NBA TV’s The Association.
With their season now over, Brooklyn let interim coach P.J. Carlesimo go and head into the offseason without a coaching staff in place. This summer will be vital to the Nets not only for next season but for their future success as well.
For the remainder of the post I will assume the role of Nets GM Billy King. I will give my suggestions and analysis on who the Nets should keep, who they should lose, players to target in free agency and the draft, and which coaching candidates to look at as well.
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KEEP: Andray Blatche, C.J. Watson
The Nets will have four free agents in total from their current roster: Blatche, Watson (player option that he will probably opt out of), Keith Bogans and Jerry Stackhouse. Blatche and Watson are the two main contributors off the Brooklyn bench; Stackhouse and Bogans are expendable veterans.
Watson cemented himself as the Nets sixth man thanks to his tremendous play off the bench all season. Watson also showed the ability to play alongside D-Will and allow the Nets to have a very potent small-ball lineup. This is far from a fluke season for Watson. During his time with the Warriors and the Bulls, he was a valuable contributor off the bench.
Blatche was a wild card going into this season. Everyone knew he was talented, but his attitude and immaturity had held him back during his first seven years in the league with the Washington Wizards. Accepting a lesser role, Blatche became a critical member of the Nets second unit and was a reliable backup in the spot minutes he played behind Brook Lopez. Brooklyn definitely needs Blatche back and to be the same player he was this season. If Blatche can give them 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game again, it will only help Brooklyn.
LOSE: Keith Bogans, Jerry Stackhouse and Gerald Wallace
As I mentioned above, Bogans and Stackhouse are pretty much dead weight in Brooklyn. With the exception of the occasional corner, three neither of them gave the Nets much of anything.
Wallace is the biggest name on this list and while he didn’t have his best year, he had moments where he was definitely helpful to the team (most recently Game 7 against Chicago). However, at just more than $10 million a year over the next three seasons, Wallace is severely overpaid. He is no longer “Crash,” the athlete that flew around the court and was one of the NBA’s better wing defenders. The best option for Brooklyn would be to try and find a team willing to take on Wallace’s contract — maybe a player like MarShon Brooks could sweeten the deal. Still, it is highly unlikely that the Nets will get much in return for Wallace at this point in his career. They might not even find a team willing to take on over $30 million in salary for a rapidly-declining forward who is turning 31 this summer.
Free Agent Targets: J.J. Redick, Stephen Jackson and Shawn Marion (early termination option)
Redick should be one of the first calls King and the Nets make on July 1. An elite shooter like Redick paired up with Lopez, Williams and Joe Johnson will give Brooklyn the floor spacing they lacked this season. As a team, the Nets shot 31 percent last season. For his career, Redick shoots 39 percent from deep.
Captain Jack was a very valuable piece for the San Antonio Spurs during their postseason run last year. Yet in an unforeseen turn of events, Jackson was let go by San Antonio just a week before the playoffs began. With the rest of the season off to rest and workout, Jackson should be in top form when the basketballs are rolled out next season. While he may not be the shooter that Redick is, Jackson can definitely have an effect from the three-point line in his own right. Jackson would not only bring veteran leadership to Brooklyn, but championship experience as well.