Needless to say, it’s been a rough few weeks as a Brooklyn Nets fan. Each game seems like a new canvas for Steve Nash to do something stupid, Bruce Brown to miss easy shots, or for James Harden trade rumors to swirl.
Kyrie Irving has been great since his team-issued sabbatical but has barely seen the floor with his best bud Kevin Durant. Durant has been sidelined with an MCL sprain that he obtained in a Jan. 16 matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans, and he’ll be out through the All-Star break.
Before then, Sean Marks has to decide how to make this team championship ready before the trade deadline. The media seems to think Harden wants out, Claxton is available, and Griffin is done.
But nobody wants to discuss who the Nets are actually trying to get, just players that want to leave.
The Nets have truly missed the presence of big man Jeff Green. Green gave Coach Nash the ability to put out small-ball lineups that can stretch the floor and allowed for all of their superstars to play as much isolation ball as possible. Now, without Green, the Nets are missing this piece that the rest of the league is now utilizing.
In the January matchup with the Lakers, the Nets had no business competing with them while LeBron James is playing center. That’s not to say James should be Brooklyn’s top deadline target, but you need someone to counteract the small-ball center and allow the Nets to play small and stretch the floor. This lack of spacing has only been exaggerated with the extended absence of Joe Harris.
Sean Marks needs to find available players that can spread the floor for the Nets. Oklahoma City’s Kenrich Williams might fit the bill, but the Nets might not want to give up a pick to acquire him.
The most expendable player on the Nets roster right now should be Bruce Brown. I love a good Harden-Brown pick-and-roll as much as every other Nets fan, but the emergence of two-way players Kessler Edwards and David Duke Jr. has diminished Brown’s impact.
A package of Brown, the disgruntled Paul Millsap, and spark-plug rookie Day’Ron Sharpe could land the Nets the floor spacer they are looking for. However, the Nets are already so deep into the luxury tax that any option has to be Dollar Store cheap with Home Depot efficiency.
Because of this tricky financial situation, Brooklyn might just have to wait for the buyout market.
Last year, Nets fans were yearning for Durant’s old Thunder teammate Serge Ibaka before he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. Ibaka brings a combination of size, defense, and shooting that the Nets don’t have on their roster.
With the turbulence the Clippers have been through this season without Paul George or Kawhi Leonard, Ibaka could look for a buyout to go win his second ring. The Nets give him a prime opportunity to do just that.
Whatever Sean Marks does at the deadline, it has to be another step towards winning this year’s NBA Championship. If the Harden rumors are true, the Nets’ championship window is only getting smaller.
I don’t want to look back on this era of Nets basketball the way I look at the Deron Williams Brooklyn team. This is the franchise’s best opportunity for a Larry O’Brien Trophy, and this trade deadline will define the future. Let’s hope it’s a good one.