Final Pre-Free-Agency Predictions for Brooklyn Nets

Frank Cesare@frank_worldContributor IIJune 28, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Teammates Shaun Livingston #14 and Andray Blatche #0 of the Brooklyn Nets high-five during a preseason game against the Detroit Pistons at the Barclays Center on October 12, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets have more to lose than gain via free agency this offseason, but there is hope for improvement. 

Because of the bloated contracts anchoring their roster, the Nets could see key role players suiting up elsewhere in the near future. Shaun Livingston and Andray Blatche will gauge interest around the league, while Kevin Garnettper Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com, is rumored to return for his 20th season.

Upgrading a franchise without any salary-cap space is challenging, but not impossible. Let's take a look at what's potentially in store this summer for the Nets.

 

Replacing Shaun Livingston

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings are reportedly interested in Livingston, and with the most Brooklyn can offer being $10 million over three years, there's a decent chance the 6'7" point guard goes to the highest bidder. 

Livingston played a crucial role in the Nets' turnaround after the franchise struggled to start the season, and his departure could stymie the flow of head coach Jason Kidd's offense. 

Brooklyn has targeted Jarrett Jack, per ESPN's Marc Stein, who would be a potential replacement for Livingston. If the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers fail to agree on a trade, a cheap alternative will have to be found. 

The Nets could find themselves entertaining free-agent veterans like Earl Watson, Ramon Sessions and Shelvin Mack if that becomes the case. 

 

Andray Blatche Stays Put

Prior to trading for Omer Asik, the New Orleans Pelicans were rumored to have interest in Blatche:

With Asik in the middle and Ryan Anderson returning to action, signing Blatche could create a logjam in the frontcourt, which may signify the end of interest between the two parties. 

BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 12: Andray Blatche #0 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots against Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2014 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. NOTE TO USER: User
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

After nearly vanishing from the league, Blatche found himself with the Brooklyn Nets and has grown as a player and person more than one would have expected during his tenure with the Washington Wizards. The Nets were one of the few organizations that believed in him, and he may return the favor this summer by re-signing after briefly testing free agency. 

Blatche has a guaranteed role with the Nets, and with Garnett's age—if he does return—and Brook Lopez's fragility, Brooklyn provides him with the best combination of playing time and responsibility. 

Unless an organization comes from left field and offers Blatche a contract far richer than the Nets' desires, he'll be back at the Barclays Center next season. 

 

Markel Brown Makes the Roster

Markel Brown was the first of Brooklyn's three second-round draft picks, and out of Xavier Thames, Cory Jefferson and himself, he has the highest ceiling. 

The 6'3" combo guard from Oklahoma State is explosive, and at the draft combine, he tied for the highest vertical leap with 43.5 inches, via Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com. 

Brown may never reach Westbrook's level of dominance and productivity, but with his athleticism and under the tutelage of Kidd and Deron Williams, he should become a reliable sparkplug off the bench for the Nets.

Like Westbrook, Brown plays with a ton of confidence and a full head of steam.

He'll be tough to guard in the open court and could be electric in spurts if his jumper continues to improve. With his 6'9" wingspan, Brown should also find some success as a one-on-one defender and in the passing lanes.

 

KG and Paul Pierce Retire Together

MIAMI, FL - MAY 14: Paul Pierce #34 and Kevin Garnett #2 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on May 14, 2014 in Miami, Florida. NOTE
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Paul Pierce has noted that he has one to two years left in him, and with Garnett likely to call it a day after his 20th season, there's a decent chance the two get together for one more try at leading the Nets to greatness. 

Pierce hasn't indicated much on whether or not he will re-sign, and while there is always the potential for a reunion with Doc Rivers, the sour taste of coming up short with the Nets last season is sure to linger.

Brooklyn won't be listed as potential favorites this upcoming year—like some thought they would be last offseason—but the franchise will be competitive enough in the mediocre Eastern Conference to have a chance at making an NBA Finals run. 

Garnett and Pierce still have enough left in their tanks to be contributors, and their chemistry together—and with the Nets—is unlikely to be tinkered with as they inch closer to retirement.