With the NBA Finals beginning in one week, teams will soon begin the process of preparing for the draft and retooling. Although the draft will address some holes for teams, teams will turn to free agency and trades as they look to improve for next year. As the Nets look to do the same, there are sure to be many trade rumors involving their roster. One of the most likely players to be on the move will be Nets big man, Mason Plumlee. Plumlee is one of the Nets most affordable, but talented potential trade pieces and there will assuredly be teams interested.
Although he only averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, in 21.3 minutes, he shot 57.3 percent from the field during a season where his playing time was tremendously inconsistent. He shot 68.9 percent from the field in January while averaging 13.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 1.1 steals per game and initially held off Brook Lopez for the starting center spot even when the latter became healthy.
As a result, these are some of the teams that could be inquiring as to Plumlee’s availability.
The Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies will have some holes in their front court to fill in free agency. With Marc Gasol a free agent, Memphis could easily take a step back from Championship contender to non-playoff team should he depart. Yet even if Gasol chooses to re-sign, the Grizzlies may still need to find a replacement for backup center Kosta Koufos. When given the opportunity, Koufos produced well and with a premium on big men, he could price himself out of the Grizzlies’ price range.
Plumlee would replace Koufos as Gasol’s primary backup, while also giving Memphis the flexibility for them both to play alongside each other and give Zach Randolph some rest on the bench. With a depth chart consisting of Jon Leuer, Jarnell Stokes, and JaMychal Green, all who project better at forward, the Grizzlies could use Plumlee’s size, athleticism, and energy next season.
Sacramento was interested in Plumlee before this season’s trade deadline and they could be interested again as they search for a power forward to complement franchise player DeMarcus Cousins. With Cousins capable of handling the scoring load in the middle, Plumlee could focus on defense and rebounding. With both Jason Thompson and Carl Landry proving to be unproductive alongside Cousins, Plumlee would give the Kings a player with a higher ceiling on a more affordable contract.
Jan 21, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumlee (1) drives to the basket against Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) during the first quarter at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
If Sacramento is as intent on acquiring Plumlee as they were in March, they may be willing to offer more than any other team. Brooklyn will undoubtedly attempt to attach Deron Williams’ bloated contract to any trade involving Plumlee, but even if Sacramento balks on that price, they could be willing to deal a draft pick and one of their young shooting guards.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder’s inclusion in a Plumlee deal hinges on the free agency status of Restricted Free Agent Enes Kanter. With no depth behind Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams, Oklahoma City is desperate for some size. Plumlee would fit well in Oklahoma’s City’s fast-paced offense and give point guard Russell Westbrook an excellent pick-and-roll partner.
With Kevin Durant and Perry Jones better suited for small forward, Plumlee would be able to play 24-26 minutes at power forward and post an efficient field goal percentage. With Durant, Westrbook, and Ibaka heavily ball dependent, Plumlee’s soft hands and ability to get a good portion of his offense off the ball, will allow them the spacing they need while generating most of his offense in transition and focus on the offensive glass.
The Atlanta Hawks had an amazing run, which ended with a sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. They did all of their damage with 6’10 Al Horford playing most of his minutes at center. With Horford better suited for power forward and Paul Milsap a free agent, there may be a significant amount of minutes up for grabs in the Hawks rotation. Even if Milsap returns, he may spend most of his time at small forward next season as incumbent small forward DeMarre Carroll may price himself out of Atlanta’s range.
A roster short on size arguably cost Atlanta on the boards during their series with the Cavaliers and Plumlee would immediately become their most talented big man besides Horford. He’d also bring the athleticism to run the court in transition with point guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroeder and sufficient enough passing skills to fit into coach Mike Budenholzer’s offense that’s highly reliant on ball movement. Most importantly, his continuous energy and activity around the rim would certainly give the Hawks perimeter players some space or the option to toss the ball in the post to Plumlee for a plethora of easy layups and dunks.
*No matter what teams become involved discussions for Mason Plumlee the Nets will be looking to move Joe Johnson and Deron Williams as part of the deal and/or receive first round draft picks in a deep 2015 draft. Each of the aforementioned teams has picks that could interest Brooklyn as they try to replenish a very empty stable. In the likely scenario that the Nets can’t deal either of the duo formerly known as “Brooklyn’s backcourt”, those picks could become even more valuable as the Nets look towards a future with considerable salary cap restraints.
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