- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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How might the Brooklyn Nets benefit from the announcement of the NBA’s new television deal?
Let’s take a look with some help from Grantland’s Zach Lowe.
In a detailed breakdown that is well worth your time, Lowe writes that the salary cap is likely to increase significantly ahead of the 2016-17 season.
Why is that important? Because Kevin Durant, assuming he hasn’t re-signed with Oklahoma City by then, will become an unrestricted free agent.
And because the Nets, armed with a boatload of cap space, are going to be all-in on a Durant pursuit, assuming he’s available.
Assuming that Durant hits free agency under an $80 million-plus cap Lowe writes: The Nets, even with Deron Williams’s atrocious contract still on the books, could suddenly find themselves with two maximum cap slots -- enough for Durant and a costar.
It is, of course, important to note that the entire NBA will be after Durant should he hit the open market, which means the Nets could have plenty of competition -- basically any team with the requisite cap space.
The Nets 2016-17 books look like this:
• Williams $22.3 million (early termination option)
• Jarrett Jack $6.3 million ($500,000 guaranteed)
• Bojan Bogdanovic $3.6 million (final year of his deal)
• Sergey Karasev $2.5 million (team option)
• Mason Plumlee $2.3 million (team option)
The Nets have made a conscious effort to create cap space for the summer of 2016. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how much they have to spend and who is available.
Williams, if he returns to All-Star form, could have an interesting decision on whether or not to opt out and try and seek a long-term deal on the open market.
Same for Brook Lopez, who has a $16.7 million player option for 2015-16. It could make more sense for Lopez to opt in and become a free agent in 2016-17, the first year of the new TV deal.
Both players have an injury history, which may factor into their decision as well.
The Nets, of course, tried to set themselves up to get LeBron James in the summer of 2010. It didn’t work, granted they were in New Jersey then.
They play in the $1 billion Barclays Center now and are projected to move into a $45 million practice facility in Brooklyn next season.
Given their connection to ex-minority owner Jay-Z, who happens to represent Durant, the Nets could have a chance. The summer of 2016 may be far away, but the chatter about Durant’s future has only just begun.