Tuesday, July 1, 2014
5 things to know about Nets free agency
By Mike Mazzeo
The Brooklyn Nets head into the free agency period starting Tuesday. Here’s a quick primer along with five things to look out for:
Nets under contract: The Nets have nine players under guaranteed contracts totaling $88.5 million (see the chart on the right for a complete breakdown).
Non-guaranteed contract: Jorge Gutierrez ($816,000)
Draft rights: Markel Brown (second-round); Xavier Thames (second-round); Cory Jefferson (second-round)
Rights held: Bojan Bogdanovic (overseas); Ilkan Karaman (overseas)
Unrestricted free agents: Paul Pierce (Bird Rights); Shaun Livingston; Andray Blatche (Early Bird Rights); Alan Anderson; Jason Collins
Exceptions available: Taxpayer’s mini midlevel (starting at $3.3 million), veteran’s minimum deals.
Can the Nets retain Paul Pierce?
Before this whole Jason Kidd fiasco, the prevailing feeling around the organization seemed optimistic that, yes, they would retain Pierce. Now, it’s more uncertain. Pierce became a huge piece of Brooklyn’s turnaround last season. He brought leadership, the occasional offensive outburst, surprisingly strong defense and big-play ability as a stretch-power forward. It’s unknown how much Pierce has left in the tank, but regardless, the Nets would be smart to overpay him if they have to; a two-year deal worth around $20 million might suffice. He made $15 million last season. Pierce could be enticed by reuniting with his former coach, Doc Rivers, in Los Angeles or going back to Boston, though, at age 36, the idea of playing for a rebuilding team might be unappealing. Kevin Garnett is all but expected to return, though perhaps that could change as well.
Can the Nets retain Shaun Livingston?
Highly doubtful. The organization was already bracing itself for Livingston’s departure. And that was before the Kidd story broke. Livingston had a career year in 2013-14, and as a result is primed to cash in on the open market. The Nets can offer Pierce more money than any other team because they own his Bird Rights. That isn’t the case with Livingston. Brooklyn can only offer him at most the entire taxpayer’s mini midlevel exception -- or three years and just north of $10 million. Kidd was instrumental in bringing Livingston aboard. The Nets are going to have to replace him, which, because of their cap constraints, is basically impossible. Kidd, Pierce and Livingston all share the same agent: Jeff Schwartz.
Will Deron Williams or Brook Lopez be traded?
Probably not. But that doesn’t mean Nets GM Billy King shouldn’t gauge the trade market to see what both players could fetch in a deal. Williams and Lopez are both coming off surgery and owed a hefty chunk of change, so their trade values are clearly much lower than they once were. Lopez, 26, probably has more value. There are questions as to how he’ll fit in Kidd’s system. Williams has been plagued by injuries throughout his tenure with the Nets. At the end of the day, Brooklyn will probably end up holding on to both players and hoping they get healthy and return to All-Star form.
Will Marcus Thornton’s expiring contract be shopped?
You would think so. The Nets don’t have many assets, but Thornton’s $8.6 million expiring is one of them. They could look to package Thornton and the rights to Bogdanovic in order to fill other needs, such as obtaining Livingston’s replacement or adding a big man who can rebound. If the Nets keep him, Thornton will probably continue in his role as a spark-plug scoring option off the bench.
Who is going to coach this team?
Seems like it’s going to be a veteran such as Lionel Hollins, George Karl or Mark Jackson at this point. But the Nets did hire Kidd, so they’re more than capable of doing something outside the box. Brooklyn has shown interest in Jeff Van Gundy before. Ettore Messina, the former CSKA Moscow coach, is rumored to be a candidate as well. It would certainly behoove the Nets to get a coach in place as quickly as possible, but they also want to do their due diligence before making a move.