Is it time for the Brooklyn networks to blow them up? | News, results, highlights, stats and rumours

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 7: Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets No. 7 wears a Vote jersey during his pre-game warm-up against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on November 7, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.  Note to User: User expressly acknowledges and agrees, by downloading or using this image, that User agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

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The Brooklyn Nets had a tumultuous 2022.

From trading James Harden to Philadelphia 76ers with Ben Simmons in February, Kevin Durant’s trade request in late June, and most recently the dismissal of head coach Steve Nash and Keri Irving comment—It was a downward spiral for Can Durant’s side off the Eastern Conference Finals berth in 2021.

Can the franchise trajectory be corrected, or is it time to start stripping the slate into pieces for a substantial rebuild?


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At 34, after rupturing his Achilles tendon, Durant remains one of the NBA’s best players. Through 11 games this season, he has averaged 31 points per game while shooting 51.8% from the field. He remains a generational goalscorer and the most important nets player.

Durant is also under contract for three additional seasons (until 2025-26), so why would Brooklyn consider letting him go through the trade?

They may not. a period.

But we’re not far from Durant trying to force a deal over the holiday season, reportedly pushing to fire General Manager Sean Marks and Nash, in Shams Al-Sharaniyah from the athlete. Durant eventually relented, and Nash’s departure came in a more organic fashion.

But the net (4-7) may prepare for the second round if the losses continue to increase. Durant wants to win, and if he doesn’t think that’s going to happen in Brooklyn, he might try to force resettlement again. Given the length of his contract, some around the league remain skeptical that he will have the clout until he nears the end of his deal.

The number of teams that would want Durant is far more than the list of franchises can easily match his $44.1 million salary and have enough young stars, prospects and picks to satisfy the Nets. Will the Boston Celtics introduce Jaylen Brown? Are the Toronto Raptors willing to talk about Scotty Barnes?

How eager is Brooklyn to send Durant to rival New York Knicks, even if New York has many, many recruiting choices? Will the Golden State Warriors be willing to return to Durant, offering opportunities like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kominga and Moses Moody? Can the Miami Heat get a viable bid that doesn’t include Bam Adebayo?

There is also a point where the Nets may realize they are at an impasse with their current core, and it is time to start over. If an opportunity arises like any of the above, that time may come sooner rather than later.

But for now, the franchise will remain on track while looking for a replacement for interim head coach Jack Vaughn.


pointer hire coach

If Nets Rent Ime Udoka (said to be a favourite, h/t charanya), not to supervise the rebuilding team. As a coach, Odoka has a solid reputation having led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals and a long stint in the league as an assistant.

Besides coaching, Odoka’s reputation took a hit after he was suspended by the Celtics for violating team policies that included “brute language in his dialogue with his subordinate before initiating an inappropriate workplace relationship with the woman,” according to ESPN. Adrian Vojnarowski.

It makes sense for the Nets to hire the best available coach to revitalize the 2022-23 campaign and keep Durant an investor in Brooklyn. But she is also very tactless, given Odoka’s behavior in Boston. It’s annoying enough behavior that Tsai felt some pressure on Odoka, according to Mark Stein.

Mark Stein @TheSteinLine

League sources say there have been some “strong voices” urging Joe Tsai to reverse the Nets’ intention to appoint suspended Celtics coach Amy Odoka to succeed Steve Nash given the significant turmoil Brooklyn has already faced this season.

More to come: https://t.co/LGN9cVpMwn

Some in the league are speculating that Commissioner Adam Silver is pressing the Nets to reconsider hiring Udoka.

If the decision is to bring in a winning coach now to align with Durant, the Nets will be more of a buyer than a seller on the trade deadline. The franchise could be pivotal in a post-KD future if the next coach’s name is less than an established name.


Irving problem

Per Charania, the Nets have an extensive list of steps Irving must follow to get back into play.

Irving might quickly follow them—especially after he was said to have been exposed to “productive“Meet Silver on Tuesday, at Charania – and help Brooklyn get back into playoff shape. But that could be access.

Stein cited “the growing pessimism in various corners of the league that Kerry will play for the Nets again.”

Whatever the outcome, if Irving’s $36.9 million goes off the books after the current campaign, Brooklyn doesn’t expect to have ceiling space in July. The most that the team might have is the mid-level exception for non-taxpayers whose projects start at $11.4 million.

Any major improvements around Durant may need to come across commerce, whether that’s by the February 10 deadline or after the season revolving around draft and free agency.

Is there any market for larving? It’s unclear, but initial inquiries in NBA circles have been very pessimistic.

“It’s toxic now,” said one executive.

The Los Angeles Lakers had held overtures with the Nets earlier in the summer, but Brooklyn wasn’t open to transferring Irving at the time. Now, it seems to be too late.


Draft Problematic Choices

The more important issue, if the Nets decide it’s time to quit Durant and rebuild, is that the franchise owes many of the Houston Rockets’ first-round picks to Harden.

If Victor Winbamyama is the number one pick in 2023, Houston has swap rights with the Nets. Even if Brooklyn got the top pick and the Rockets were second, the Nets wouldn’t get Winpanyama.

At least Houston is among the worst teams in the league. The trade-off may not be horrific, outside of losing a shot at a potential franchise column. Scoot Henderson from G League Ignite is a massive consolation prize.

The Rockets also have the swap rights in 2025 and 2027. Houston will have the Nets picks in 2024 and 2026 in the first round. A shortage of draft coin may be all the incentive Brooklyn needs to avoid rebuilding.

But then, this is no different from the Nets that Marks oversaw in 2016, a few years after his 2013 trade with the Celtics for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and others. That deal destroyed the nets, but Marks showed impressive skill in turning “Nothing” into an accessory team by 2018-2019.

This junior team fell in five games to the Sixers in the 2019 playoffs, winning another game in the process over two of three post-season runs in the Durant/Irving era (to be fair, Durant was still recovering from Achilles injury during 2019-20 ).


Simmons and the rest

Networks are not without talent. The team has several veterans like Royce O’Neal, Joe Harris and Seth Curry (on his way back from an ankle injury). Young prospects like Nick Claxton and Cam Thomas are developing well.

The elephant in the room is Ben Simmons, which the Nets got for Harden from the 76ers. He has struggled to stay healthy since the Nets acquired him in February.

“Simmons doesn’t have much commercial value at the moment,” said one executive. “He wasn’t very healthy, and when he is, he doesn’t look very good. He definitely doesn’t produce up to his compensation.”

Simmons owes $78.2 million for two more seasons, so it could be tough to move on. If the Nets decide to trade Durant, they should try to tie Simmons’ hands as a condition.

The Nets may want to get off Irving’s salary, but that should be a lower priority, since his deal expires after the season. If Brooklyn pulls Durant and Simmons through the trade, the franchise could have significant financial flexibility, with Irving launching in July.

The list of teams that can afford that kind of money is short (Durant and Simmons combine to earn $79.5 million this season), but the Lakers could theoretically get there by introducing Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverly and Kendrick Noone. Will Los Angeles include its first-round picks for 2027 and 2029 to facilitate the blockbuster genre to save its season?

All three Lakers contracts, which could open up $71-81 million in the Nets’ cap space, expire next summer, depending on which players the team chooses to keep (like Westbrook, O’Neale, etc.).


Continue or start over?

Do the networks have the means to give Durant a truly competitive supporting cast? Would he still be happy if Irving didn’t come back from off?

The Nets may not find the kind of payout the Utah Jazz got for Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell (lots and lots of first-round picks). Few teams outside of the Knicks have a treasure chest of firsts to offer.

However, Brooklyn may be able to replenish some of what is owed to Houston while adding a couple of young high-quality prospects and possibly also getting rid of Simmons in the process.

Hiring a coach will be important, especially if the Nets bring in Udoka. Then, the trade may be geared toward winning rather than rebuilding.

If the slate is wholesome, healthy, and engaged, perhaps Udoka can turn this team into a watershed force in the East. Whether the team will get that chance remains up in the air, especially with Irving’s situation remaining unresolved.

As long as Durant believes in what the team is doing, Brooklyn may try to continue, but it doesn’t seem like a leap for Durant to return to his summertime position in search of a new home.


Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter Tweet embed.

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