Brooklyn Nets: Pass or Pursue on two recently rumored buyout candidates

Brooklyn Nets Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Brooklyn Nets Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA transaction cycle is at a fever pitch right now, as several former All-Stars across the league are making a power play to ditch their current franchises. Nothin’ But Nets wouldn’t have such a name if we didn’t explore said stars joining the Brooklyn Nets, and as one of the betting favorites in 2021, Brooklyn is a destination for just about any ring-chasing veteran free agent.

Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin are both angling for an exit from Cleveland and Detroit, respectively, but should the Nets pursue them on the buyout market if neither the Cavs nor Pistons can find a trade for their disgruntled and benched bigs?

Let’s take a look:

Brooklyn Nets Buyout Target No. 1: Blake Griffin

Per Adrian Wojnarowski, Blake Griffin doesn’t plan to suit up again in the Motor City:

Given his injury history, teams likely won’t be bending over backward imagining up ways to come up with a trade package that would add his $36 million cap figure into their books. Unless Anthony Davis’ injury forces the Los Angeles Lakers to make a panic trade, no contender appears able to both come up with the assets Detroit would be looking for and fit him into their offensive schemes.

Utah is playing too well to consider bringing in another ball-dominant offensive threat, and flipping either Mike Conley or some combination of Joe Ingles/Bojan Bogdanovic/Royce O’Neal brings them no closer to a title anyway.

In the east, the Boston Celtics would laugh Troy Weaver off the phone if he pursued a Griffin-Kemba Walker swap, and Masai Ujiri is too prudent to take on the final two seasons of his deal (player option for 2021-22). Other than them, no contender has the financial means to acquire Griffin without giving up a long-term core fit.

If the Brooklyn Nets were to get involved, it would take two of Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and DeAndre Jordan. Sean Marks would not risk locker-room chemistry by dealing Jordan (remember, he recruited Kyrie and KD to NYC), and Joe Harris has more value on the trade market than an aging and injury-riddled big man whose game is predicated on athleticism.

Needless to say, their best bet at Griffin is on the buyout market. That’s not a bad bet to have.

Griffin may have one big contract left, and even if it won’t be a four or five-year deal, a contract similar to what Julius Randle got in 2019 from the New York Knicks could be in the realm of possibility if he could have a strong finish to the 2020-21 season.

No destination offers such a situation quite like Brooklyn.

Griffin played his best ball alongside DeAndre Jordan in Los Angeles, and the two formed a nice big man tandem in Tinseltown. Griffin became somewhat of a lob-tosser himself, as he and Jordan became a harmonious frontcourt pair.

If the Brooklyn Nets can toss Blake Griffin the disabled player exception acquired by the season-ending injury to Spencer Dinwiddie for a half-year rental, Sean Marks would get an offensive threat who allows Kevin Durant to slide to the small forward spot and one who can play some small-ball center as well.

Verdict: Pursue if bought out, no questions asked.

Now, onto less of a positional fit…

Brooklyn Nets Buyout Target No. 2: Andre Drummond

Here we are, once again taking a trip at the Andre Drummond-to-Brooklyn well. As opposed to the “player’s choice” nature of Blake Griffin no longer suiting up for Detroit, the Cleveland Cavaliers are deciding not to play Andre Drummond any longer.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst:

"The Cleveland Cavaliers are no longer planning to play Andre Drummond as they work to trade the two-time All-Star center before the NBA’s March 25 deadline, sources told ESPN.The Cavaliers are moving to make Jarrett Allen the franchise’s long-term starting center and believe it’s unfair to Drummond to limit his minutes as the organization transitions to Allen, sources said."

Drummond should actually be easier to find a deal for, as he’s an expiring contract who serves as a vacuum on the glass. The Detroit Pistons dealt him for pennies on the dollar last season, acquiring the expiring contracts of John Henson and Brandon Knight along with a second-round draft pick. That should give Cleveland hope of finding a deal.

In fact, Toronto/Tampa Bay is already in talks to acquire the 2012 lottery pick:

Drummond is more likely to land with a team, but if he doesn’t — and that’s very possible if Toronto doesn’t end up finding a deal to Cleveland’s liking — the Nets could have multiple options on the trade market.

Drummond would likely look for the same $5 million DPE created by Dinwiddie’s season-ending ACL tear. If it came down to choosing between the two, Griffin is a clearly superior choice.

If for whatever reason Drummond would accept a minimum deal, Sean Marks should fit him for a Nets jersey the minute it would no longer be considered tampering.

If Drummond is the only buyout free agent worth considering, then that check should be cut out to him.

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Just be wary of the potential locker-room friction having two former All-Star centers that both believe they are starters could produce.

Verdict: Pursue, but only if the circumstances are right