Brooklyn Nets: Evaluating options for pivotal offseason

Brooklyn Nets Sean Marks Kenny Atkinson. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Sean Marks Kenny Atkinson. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Tobias Harris (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

Option B: Add a second-tier star

While it’s all good and well to hope that Kawhi or KD or Kyrie decide the Brooklyn Nets are the right choice for them, the reality of it is that these players will have the pick of the lot when it comes to their next team and there is a high chance that no superstar decides to come to the Nets.

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But this is an extremely deep free agent class and the Nets should have a good chance at some of those second-tier stars as well.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ offseason might have a big impact on the Nets’ free agency plans. With Jimmy Butler expected to decline his 2019-20 player option and Tobias Harris‘ contract expiring, the Sixers will have a decision to make on whether to bring back all of the core that lost to the Raptors in the second round of the playoffs.

GM Elton Brand and owner Josh Harris have not been shy about their desire to keep their group together, but it’s very difficult to see the Sixers bringing back both Harris and Butler with Ben Simmons’ upcoming contract extension.

The Nets may be in position to pounce if either star leaves Philly.

When Jimmy Butler first requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves back in September, the Nets were on his three-team shortlist. That was before D’Angelo Russell blossomed into an All-Star and the Nets shocked the league all the way to the sixth seed in the East.

Brian Lewis of the New York Post reported that Butler has remained interested in the team through his time in Philadelphia and will seriously consider the Nets this offseason.

Given his two-way versatility, Butler would add much-needed toughness and defense to this Nets team in addition to his shot-creating ability.

Butler, for one, is confident of his abilities to command a max salary this summer, saying during his interview following the Sixers’ crushing Game 7 loss to Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals:

"“Knock on wood, I will get a max contract anywhere I choose to go.”"

While he certainly may be worth a max deal today, paying Butler that salary during his age 33/34 season is a factor the Nets will have to keep in mind.

His teammate, Tobias Harris, might actually be a better fit for Brooklyn. Harris has quietly turned into one of the most underrated scorers in the league, perhaps because he has jumped around so much. Now, for the first time in his career, he will be able to choose his team.

Harris’ role diminished with the Sixers, he went from being the first option for the LA Clippers to the fourth in Philly. He would see far more of the ball in Brooklyn and could be the long-term solution to that problematic 4 spot for the Nets.

But, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Nets won’t be alone in their pursuit of the Long Island native, with the Kings, Mavericks, Jazz, and Pacers all interested and armed with a max salary slot.

While giving the max to both Butler and Harris may be a bit of a stretch, adding a talented secondary star would give D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert more space and less of the defense’s attention.

At 27, Harris is the better fit with the Nets time line, and fits better positionally as well, but either would help Brooklyn take that next step towards becoming contenders.

Khris Middleton is another name that fits in this tier, but while he’s a free agent this summer, it’s hard to picture the Bucks not bringing him back.

The Nets have the cap space to retain all of their restricted free agents while adding any of these players, but would also have upwards of $15 million to add someone from the next tier as well if they renounce the holds to Carroll, Dudley and Hollis-Jefferson as expected.