With this Brooklyn Nets season slowly turning into a mini-nightmare of blowout losses and non existent defense, don’t be surprised if the trade rumors come swirling in, and fast. Jeremy Lin will have his name included in them as well, even if right now it doesn’t seem like something realistic.
Right now things aren’t pretty. The Nets have lost seven in a row, including their most recent home game to the Sacramento Kings, 105-122. They’re almost at the bottom of the East, and if the Philadelphia 76ers wouldn’t have limited Joel Embiid’s minutes in a couple of games, they would have gone past the Net by now. In short, it doesn’t look good: Not in terms of their basketball product, and not in terms of the overall outlook, as long as Lin stays grounded, already missing 11 games, and about to make it a month of sitting out with his hamstring injury.
And one can’t help but think about the Nets plans. The NBA doesn’t like the word tanking, but it exists. Now, I do think that in this specific season, no team entered it with the idea of losing as much as possible. But things change during the season. Look at the Dallas Mavericks. The problem for the Nets is, even if they do want to tank, they’d have to switch picks with the Boston Celtics. So assuming they do want to improve their draft situation, they need to pull off some trades and get themselves some draft pick. Their cap situation isn’t an issue anymore after years of being way in luxury tax territory.
The Nets have very little to work with in terms of trades. The only players I see with trade value are Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lin, Trevor Booker, Bojan Bogdanovic and Sean Kilpatrick. If the Nets can get a first round pick for the last three, I’d do it, but personally I’ll find it hard to give up Kilpatrick. He’s incredibly inconsistent, but I think that with a good point guard next to him, his play can be channeled to be a lot more productive. Booker is a solid player, but not special. He stands out on the Nets because he’s quite useful on both ends of the floor which is rare right now on this team, but for a first rounder? Hard to see anyone giving that up for him.
Bogdanovic can score. He’s an incredibly talented and versatile offensive player, who can do a lot of damage as a sixth man on some teams who don’t care about second unit defense. I don’t think the Nets should re-sign him for some big contract, so trading him at some point makes sense. Even with the 15% kicker, I think some team will be willing to take him to add some quick scoring. But a first round pick? Not going to happen. Doesn’t mean he won’t be traded.
Lopez is someone I always have imaginary discussions with myself about in terms of trade value. Few big men in the NBA have his offensive skill. He’s averaging 19.9 points in 26.9 minutes a game this season. He’s shooting over 36% from three. In the age of stretch big men, Lopez is an incredible asset to have on certain teams. The problem is he’s a 7-footer who sucks on defense and especially on the glass. Now, $43 million over this and next season isn’t that big of a cap hit anymore, not for a starting center, but Lopez will be difficult to move without accepting so-so compensation.
Which brings us to Lin. I wouldn’t trade him unless someone throws two first round picks or a first and one/two second rounders. I think he’s that valuable to the Nets, and to any team willing to put the ball in his hand to run the offense. We haven’t seen enough of it this season, but I’m assuming we will once he returns, whenever that will be. But I don’t have a direct link into Sean Marks mind. A healthy Lin on his $12 million-per year contract is a very easy package to showcase around. This season turning into one big losing fest can change the Nets long term plans. I don’t think it will, Lin is a big part of their future plans, but anything can change.
When you take out the injury that Lin has been grounded by and other injuries the Nets have been inflicted with, he’s in a very good situation, but this team is obviously missing a lot more than just its starting point guard. Personally I don’t believe Lin is going to get traded because the Nets didn’t just add him to be their point guard until something better comes along. He was signed to be the player this team and system revolves around, which is why they look so awful without him. However, this is a business, and I can’t believe the thought won’t cross the minds of the people who get to make these decisions at some point, if a very lucrative offer comes along.