- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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Will Shaun Livingston be playing elsewhere next season?
He very-well could be, which is why the Brooklyn Nets are talking with the Cavaliers about a trade that would send Marcus Thornton to Cleveland in exchange for Jarrett Jack, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports.
Livingston, of course, is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and is coming off the best year of his career. The Nets, who are way over the cap, can only offer Livingston at most a three-year contract worth just north of $10 million -- or their entire taxpayer mini mid-level exception.
Nets GM Billy King had said his No. 1 priority heading into the offseason was retaining Livingston, but a potential Thornton-for-Jack swap serves as a contingency plan in case that can’t happen.
Jack is owed a guaranteed $6.3 million per year over the next two seasons; the third and final season remaining on his deal is non-guaranteed.
Ironically, the Nets had shown interest in Jack before acquiring Thornton at last season’s trade deadline.
Jack, 30, a reserve point guard who can provide instant offense, had his best season in 2012-13, when he averaged 17.2 points on 50.6 percent shooting for the Golden State Warriors during the playoffs.
Thornton, 27, is entering the final year of his contract and is slated to be owed $8.6 million in 2014-15. He proved to be a solid sparkplug scorer for Brooklyn during the regular season, but struggled with his shooting in the playoffs -- the exception being his 17-point effort in Game 7 against Toronto.
Brooklyn’s offseason could prove to be an interesting one, depending on what happens with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Garnett is owed a guaranteed $12 million next season, but could decide to retire. King has said he’s operating under the assumption that Garnett is returning. Pierce is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Pierce has said he has about a year or two left in the tank, and bringing him back would likely require a two-year contract. The Nets have Pierce’s Bird Rights, meaning they can pay him more than any other team.
On Friday, Andray Blatche officially announced he will be opting out and becoming an unrestricted free agent. The Nets, who have Blatche’s Early Bird Rights, can offer him a contract upwards of four years, $25 million. But given all the depth Brooklyn has in the frontcourt with Brook Lopez coming off offseason foot and ankle surgery, Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko (player option) potentially coming back and Mason Plumlee entering his second season, it’s possible that the Nets will decide to move on from Blatche.
Deron Williams is currently rehabbing after undergoing offseason surgery on both of his ankles. It’s possible King could look to see what Lopez and Williams would fetch in a trade, but the team’s best option may be hoping that both players get healthy and return to All-Star form.
The Nets could head into next season with a starting lineup that features Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Lopez. Jack would then potentially spearhead a bench that includes returnees Mirza Teletovic, Kirilenko and Plumlee. Alan Anderson and Jason Collins will both be unrestricted free agents. Jorge Gutierrez, who doesn’t have a full guarantee, will get a shot to make the roster.
King has said he attends to acquire a pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. The Nets currently do not have any selections in the draft.
Question: What do you think about a possible Thornton-for-Jack trade? Let us know in the comments section below.