Broken dreams should never be this expensive.
Apparently, having the most expensive roster in NBA history isn't enough for the Brooklyn Nets. Not only is there somehow money left in owner Mikhail Prokhorov's pockets, it seems as if it's burning hotter than all the empty win-now bucks he's already shelled into this team.
With an aging—and injured—core, the Nets (24-27) are far closer to hitting their ceiling than they'd like to admit.
Instead of waiving the white flag, though, Brooklyn is searching for reinforcements. Not the ones capable of salvaging anything from this scrap heap but rather more trash to toss on this raging dumpster fire:
League sources say Nets have interest in Cavs' Jarrett Jack. One source says Jason Terry for Jack could be a possibility before deadline— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) February 17, 2014
Jarrett Jack is an all-risk, no-reward player. He's pricey ($12.6 million over the next two seasons, nonguaranteed $6.3 million salary for 2016-17, via ShamSports.com), declining and a smidgen above serviceable at his best.
If a breakout campaign even exists on the 30-year-old's eight-plus-year NBA resume, it would have come in one of the last two seasons.
The challenge for Nets fans is deciding which of those two years would qualify as the missing piece in the team's championship puzzle.
So we're really talking about a trick question, as opposed to a challenge. Even on his brightest days, he struggles to shine as anything better than an average talent.
In 2013-14, he's been painted by an even less favorable brush. His ceiling has been incrementally lowered, and his basement has suffered an even more dramatic drop.
He's down to just 8.5 points per night on .397/.373/.821 shooting. He's managed just 3.7 assists per game and experienced nearly a seven-point decrease in his assist percentage from last season (23.0 down from 29.9).
In other words, even the Nets aren't reckless enough to pursue the player he's become:
gotta think #Nets are looking at Jarrett Jack's production with GSW last year: 79 games, starting 4, averaged 13 ppg, shot 40% from deep.— NetsDaily.com (@NetsDaily) February 18, 2014
Now, even in his depleted form, Jack is still a significant upgrade over Jason Terry (4.5 points on .362/.379/.667 shooting, 1.6 assists). That's not even up for debate.
What isn't clear, though, is what, if anything, Jack would add to Brooklyn's backcourt.
He's nowhere near the levels of Deron Williams (13.3 points on .451/.384/.780 shooting, 6.6 assists) or Joe Johnson (15.0 points on .438/.390/.806 shooting). Clearly, the Nets aren't aiming for an upgrade there, but is Jack any better than Shaun Livingston or Alan Anderson at this point?
Livingston is a fairly limited scorer (i.e., he can't shoot), but he plays within his limits (46.3 field-goal percentage), works well as a secondary distributor (3.1 assists against 1.3 turnovers) and possesses disruptive length (6'7" with a 6'11" wingspan).
Anderson is a decent shooter (career 34.9 three-point percentage) and a "solid defensive player with good size and later quickness," as former ESPN analyst and current Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger once wrote, via ESPN New York's Mike Mazzeo.
They aren't needle movers, but both Livingston and Anderson have value to the Nets. Meanwhile, Jack has pushed Cleveland deep into the red simply by taking the floor.
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According to ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk and Marc Stein, the Nets' interest in Jack stems around their desire "to add a proven ballhandler and backcourt scorer to their bench rotation," to the point that Brooklyn is "willing to take on the two remaining guaranteed seasons worth in excess of $12 million left on Jack's contract despite the luxury-tax implications."
Essentially, Brooklyn is hoping for the same lift from Jack that Cleveland thought it was going to get—the one that accentuates the star point guard (Williams and Kyrie Irving, respectively) as Jack seemingly did alongside Stephen Curry last season with the Golden State Warriors.
That hasn't been the case for Irving and the Cavaliers, though. Irving has had a bigger impact during the time Jack has been off the floor (12.0 points and 4.5 assists in 21.2 minutes) than he has when the two have shared the backcourt (9.7 points and 1.8 assists in 14.4 minutes), via NBA.com.
The numbers don't help build Jack's claim as a difference-maker. The eye test grades him even more harshly:
I don't know what Jarrett Jack does for the locker room and everything…but it's clear that Dellavedova helps FAR more on the court.— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) February 12, 2014
In case you're unaware, that's a reference to Matthew Dellavedova, an undrafted rookie whose NBA future was far from settled when he entered training camp with a partially guaranteed contract.
That's the player who is outperforming Jack this season. If the Nets are conscious of warning signs, this one comes with a blaring siren and flashing lights.
"Thirty-year-old backup point guards making above mid-level exception money for multiple years just aren't all that appealing," Bleacher Report's D.J. Foster wrote. "Jack could still help, but it's hard to say he's worth his price, even for a team that doesn't care about that sort of thing."
There's a missing part of the cost-benefit analysis here. The potential payoff for Brooklyn adding to its already astronomical payroll simply doesn't exist.
The Nets tried to open a championship window overnight. With a slew of veteran offseason arrivals, Brooklyn knew it had one year to make good on its manufactured hopes.
"Now, this is the window -- this season," Nets general manager Billy King said at training camp, via Youngmisuk.
Should the Nets still be taking an all-in approach toward this season?
Accepting fate is never easy, particularly with a goal as lofty as this. But tempting fate can be far more damaging, especially when an outcome is as predetermined as it appears to be here.
Jack can't reopen that window. He wouldn't even prolong Brooklyn's postseason stay. That chapter has already been inked and sent to press.
He could, however, add a few punch lines to the Nets' comical financial books and further bind their hands going forward.
There was a self-destructive undertone to Brooklyn's wild summer of spending. But it never seemed as intentionally harmful to the team as this ill-conceived deal would be now.