In the Wednesday edition of the Brooklyn Nets Morning Dish, forward Jared Dudley had a happy homecoming in Phoenix and has an important fan on the bench.
The Brooklyn Nets were winners Tuesday night for the second straight game, which makes the Morning Dish a much happier plate to serve.
For Nets forward Jared Dudley, the game was a homecoming. Dudley played the last two seasons in Phoenix before being traded to Brooklyn as a salary dump after he turned down an offer from the Suns to buy out the final year and $9.5 million remaining on his contract.
The surprise for most observers isn’t that Dudley found a place in Brooklyn, but that it’s such a big one. Dudley started Tuesday — his 11th consecutive start of the season — after being a forgotten man in the desert last season.
Dudley told Newsday’s Greg Logan that this season has been about proving he still belongs in the NBA:
"“When you’re not doing your job for a year or two, people think, ‘Is the team wasting money on him? Can he still play? Is he out of shape?’ For me to spend the summer I did and get into tip-top shape, I could go to the bench next week or whatever and [I showed] I’m an NBA player.”"
Dudley lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 pounds in the offseason after his playing time dwindled to 14.3 minutes per game and was limited to 48 appearances.
Dudley — a frequent target of fan angst on social media — had five points, two rebounds and an assist, which was probably not the homecoming he would have liked. But it is right about in line with what he’s done for the Nets on the stat sheet this season.
He played 24 minutes and is averaging 24.8 minutes per game this season, putting up 5.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists and shooting .375/.300/7-for-8.
But for anyone looking for Dudley to exit the starting unit, coach Kenny Atkinson may have other ideas, based on what he told Gina Mizell of The Athletic before the game.
Even his former Suns teammates are surprised at Dudley’s role, as second-year forward Josh Jackson admitted:
"“I’m just as surprised as everybody else, but he’s been looking good. I know Jared is a guy who can really move the ball, a great decision-maker and an amazing shooter. Having him out there really helps them out.”"
With the Nets staying in Phoenix for an off day Wednesday and a Thursday practice before heading to Denver for Friday’s meeting with the Nuggets, Dudley plans to get together with former teammate Devin Booker for dinner.
Brooklyn’s 22-point victory will give Dudley some serious bragging rights, to be sure.
If Wizards go fire sale, could Porter be a fit?
After being pummeled by the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night, the Wizards are just 2-8, with only the free-falling four-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers keeping them out of the Eastern basement.
Porter was recently called out by Washington coach Scott Brooks after a recent loss to the Toronto Raptors and there have been suggestions the quiet Porter is being set up as the Wizards’ fall guy.
When Porter was a restricted free agent in 2017, the Nets signed him to a four-year, $106.5 million offer sheet that Washington opted to match. Porter is on the books for $26 million this season and $27.25 million in 2019-20, with a $28.5 million player option for 2020-21.
Taking on Porter would eat up a sizeable chunk of the cap space general manager Sean Marks has so carefully created for next summer, particularly considering Porter’s contract includes a 15 percent trade kicker (a contract Marks helped structure, just to be clear).
Porter actually had a strong game in Dallas, scoring 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 5-of-6 from deep, to improve his season numbers to 11.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.9 minutes per game on .455/.368/8-for-10 shooting.
The problem with trades this early in the season is there are many limitations to whom can be included, since free agents signed over the offseason are off limits in trades until Dec. 15. with several being untradeable until Jan. 15.
And because every team in the NBA is over the cap already with the exception of the Sacramento Kings, a trade would have to match money very closely, with teams not able to take on more than 125 percent of the salary they trade away.
So to get Porter, the Nets would have to move at least $20.8 million in salary.
With Joe Harris, Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham off the table as they were signed as free agents over the summer, Marks would have to build a trade around one of the team’s bigger salaries and add extra money to the deal.
Allen Crabbe is the closest at $18.5 million, but you’d have to include one of the young core players to get to $20.8 million. DeMarre Carroll at $15.4 million or Kenneth Faried at $13.8 million might need two smaller contracts to make a deal work.
Because of the tight cap space restrictions 29 out of 30 teams are dealing with, trades may not be plentiful this year. Making the money match makes it much, much more difficult to deal unless teams are willing to swap similarly salaried problems.
Which makes the next scenario unlikely, as well.
A call for a Russell trade
Again, not a bad theory, but either the Nets or the team partnering on the trade would have to keep the cash within 125 percent. With Russell making roughly $7 million this season, that is a window of $5.6 million to $8.75 million coming back to the Nets.
Besides, Russell has responded in the last two games with more defensive effort and energy than he’s shown, perhaps since he entered the NBA. So maybe this case falls into the “sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make” category.