The Brooklyn Nets don't have the cap room to be players in the free-agent market, so they'll have to explore trades in order to improve a roster that didn't cut it against the Miami Heat in the 2014 postseason.
One such trade may already be on the table according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
Going online now: ESPN sources say Nets and Cavs are discussing Marcus Thornton-for-Jarrett Jack trade— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 21, 2014
Potential Jack move (via @ESPNSteinLine) looks like hedge against Livingston leaving in free agency. For CLE, it's $ and getting a wing..— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 21, 2014
While Jack's acquisition wouldn't directly impact Shaun Livingston's presence with the team, writing may be on the wall. The 28-year-old point guard indicated in March that he'll be looking for a payday this summer, whether it's with the Nets or not.
"(My enjoyment with Brooklyn and how I fit) definitely plays a factor," Livingston told the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy. "You have to weigh your situations, your options. The reason I’m in a situation where I can demand a contract is because I’m playing for this team, this coach, this system. I realize that and I’m not over my head. But at the same time, it’s a business. You have to look at it like (the next contract) could always be your last."
According to Bondy:
The Nets, who are way over the cap and deep into the luxury tax, can only offer Livingston up to the entire mid-level exception, which is for three years and $10 million. The 28-year-old Livingston is expected to attract more in the open market, although there’s still plenty of important basketball remaining before July.
Livington made just $1,265,977 this season, so no one will fault him for seeking a lucrative deal after his best campaign in years. He started 54 games this season as head coach Jason Kidd adjusted the lineup in an effort to go smaller.
Brooklyn may figure that it's better off spending the money on a more productive veteran like Jack. Livingston's length and intelligence make him an intriguing role player, but Jack has averaged 10.9 points and 4.3 assists for his career. Though smaller than Livingston, he similarly has the pedigree of a combo guard, meaning he'd maintain Brooklyn's backcourt versatility to a large degree.
Of course, Livingston isn't out the door just yet. The Nets could simply be looking to provide Deron Williams with some additional insurance. They could be looking to add another ball-handler who'd improve the club's ball movement. Livingston and Jack are both dynamic enough that one's presence doesn't necessarily spell doom for the other.
Yet another possibility is that the Nets could be looking to later deal Williams himself. In that event, Jack and Livingston may coexist and handle point guard duties together.
Jack is scheduled to make $6.3 million in each of the next two seasons. His contract also has a team option for the 2016-17 season that is also worth $6.3 million.
Meanwhile, Marcus Thornton would give the Cavaliers an absolute spark plug off the bench. He averaged 9.8 points last season and has never met a shot he didn't like. The 27-year-old is due to make $8,697,500, but he'll come off the books after that. For Cleveland, the deal would ensure more long-term cap flexibility given Thornton's short-term commitment.