The Nets shook off one of the most disappointing starts in league history to battle back to a somewhat respectable record. As of Feb. 5, Brooklyn is sitting at 21-25—good for seventh place in the abysmal Eastern Conference.
While this team has a decent shot at making the playoffs, largely due to a 10-3 run in January and the lack of talent in the conference this season, it has little chance of making noise and competing with the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat for a trip to the Finals.
Fortunately for Nets fans, this roster is chock-full of talent and isn’t completely out of the running yet. One blockbuster move by general manager Billy King might be enough to put Brooklyn on the short list of real Eastern Conference contenders.
On the other hand, the Nets might come to the realization that this season is a sunk cost and start building toward the future.
King could orchestrate a number of deals that would involve flipping their assets for less than market value in order to recover some of the numerous draft picks and young talent they lost when building this current roster.
Only one thing is certain: Just about everything is still in play for this team in the weeks leading up to the deadline. Let’s take a look at some of the latest buzz from the rumor mill concerning the Nets.
It's been reported that the Nets are interested in Lakers forward Jordan Hill in the past, now ESPN's Marc Stein reports a second team has interest in the 26-year old:
Hearing now that Cavs have strongly emerged as team trying to trump BKN and acquire Jordan Hill from Lakers. Looks like Cavs & Nets for Hill— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 19, 2014
The Sacramento Kings are engaged in discussions to send guard Marcus Thornton to the Brooklyn Netsfor guard Jason Terry and forward Reggie Evans, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Talks have been ongoing for several days, sources said, but no agreement is imminent.
On Wednesday the two sides pulled the trigger on a deal according to the ESPN Sportscenter Twitter feed:
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports Jordan Hill is receiving interest from the Nets:
As Nets consider Jordan Hill and even larger tax bill, a GM says, "It pushes teams even harder to stay under (tax) as payouts get bigger."
The Nets have enjoyed their recent run of success without one of their best players—Brook Lopez—on the floor. The big man is out for the remainder of the year with a broken foot, an injury suffered back in December that forced head coach Jason Kidd and the team to adapt with small lineups and other tactics to cover up this major loss.
Unexpectedly, it has worked. Kevin Garnett is back to playing center, a position he manned with great success during his stint with the Boston Celtics, and the rest of the lineup is generating turnovers and playing top-tier defense.
This revelation may have rendered Lopez expendable, but the Nets aren’t rushing out to make a deal.
According to an interview with Grantland’s Zach Lowe, King isn’t making calls about shipping off the oft-injured Lopez, but will not hang up the phone if another GM calls about his availability:
We are not shopping Brook Lopez. Our goal is to get Brook as healthy as possible. But if deals present themselves, we’ve got to look at them. If we can get draft picks back at some point, that would help.
Lopez is owed the remainder of his $14.7 million salary for this year and is still on the books for $15.7 million next season and $16.8 million for the 2015-16 campaign, per Spotrac.com.
It’s a rather exorbitant price for a player who now has a serious history of left foot injuries, including his first break in 2011 and a surgery this past offseason to repair a bent screw that was inserted during that initial procedure.
However, when healthy, Lopez is one of the best offensive-minded centers in the game. The 7-footer was averaging 20.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game before going down this year, while holding career averages of 18.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest.
Lopez is one of the Nets’ best assets, but his history of injury could limit what the club is able to get in return for the 25-year-old.
If a team is willing to part with some picks in a potentially loaded 2014 draft and possibly even give Brooklyn some salary relief in the process, it would be foolish for King not to pull the trigger. It will definitely be interesting to see what sort of deals emerge for the Stanford product leading up to the deadline.
Reggie Evans has been slowly fading from the spotlight in Brooklyn. He was once a key player for this team due to his tenacious attitude and elite rebounding skills, but no longer has a prominent place in Kidd’s lineups.
Evans is averaging just 2.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 13.1 minutes of play, numbers well below his 2012-13 stats. The 33-year-old finished that season having played in 80 games (starting 56) while putting up 4.5 points and 11.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes per game.
He’s definitely capable of dominating the paint and adding a rebounding edge to a contending team, but there doesn’t seem to be too much interest in the 12-year veteran right now.
Evans is under contract for the remainder of this year and next, a season where he will make $1.77 million for his services, per Spotrac.com. Keep an eye on this situation to see if any suitors emerge for this hard-nosed rebounder in the next few weeks.
Evans has since been linked to a move to Sacramento, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.