And while the more recent transaction didn’t include two surefire Hall of Famers, it did significantly improve the Nets.
On July 9, Brooklyn brought in crafty point guard Jarrett Jack along with Sergey Karasev, a young swingman with great upside, in a three-team exchange that included the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.
The only player that the Nets gave up was Marcus Thornton, who ended up in Boston along with Tyler Zeller and a protected 2016 first-round pick from Cleveland. The swap made sense for all parties, as the Cavs were able to clear up cap space and create room for the grand return of LeBron James.
The significance of this move may go unrecognized due to the buzz surrounding this year’s big-name free agents. But by the time the regular season rolls around, Brooklyn’s trade may go down as one of the biggest moves of the summer.
Jack to provide energy, lessen dependence on D-Will
Shaun Livingston was tremendous for the Nets last year. In his first major NBA role after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in league history—don’t look it up if you know what’s good for you—the 28-year-old guard proved to be one of Brooklyn’s most valuable players in 2013-14.
The nine-year veteran put up 8.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3.2 boards a game last season, but his impact transcended the numbers. Livingston was a calming force for the Nets, always there to hit a big shot or make the right pass when it mattered most.
But now he’s gone.
The Warriors' deal with Shaun Livingston will be three years, $16 million, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2014
Livingston inked a deal with the Golden State Warriors this offseason, cashing in on his breakout campaign with Brooklyn.
The Nets finagled their way into the 2014 draft and took electrifying point guard Markel Brown—and all 43.5 inches of his vertical leap—with the 44th pick. While Brown has a ton of potential and could make up for the loss of Livingston, the addition of Jack in the backcourt lessens the burden on Deron Williams’ shoulders.
“I think I can be someone who can kind of relieve Deron at times, you know the ball-handling responsibilities,” Jack said, per ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk. “A person that is trying to create opportunities for myself or for my teammates.”
“I’m definitely trying to go out there and compete for a job,” Jack said. “And whether that’s being in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, I’ll be happy to fit in any way possible.”
It's unclear whether new head coach Lionel Hollins will start Jack alongside D-Will, as Livingston did last season, or bring him off the bench. Either way, expect Jack to get significant minutes running the point.
Jack works his tail off on both ends of the floor and plays with his heart on his sleeve. He’s athletic and efficient, and he has averaged 10.9 points and 4.3 assists over the course of his career, which has included time with seven different teams.
However, he is coming off of arguably his worst season. Jack's numbers dropped from nearly 15.7 points and 6.7 assists a game with Golden State in 2012-13 to 12.1 points and 5.2 assists with the Cavs last season.
When asked about the dip in his stats, Jack pointed to a change in his role, per Youngmisuk.
“You know, in certain situations you’re asked to do certain things, and in other situations you aren’t,” Jack said. “I was more of a facilitator and had less scoring punch than I was accustomed to being and I think that was more so the cause of it than anything.”
While Livingston was a playmaker, Jack can knock down outside shots with greater consistency, and will be counted on to do so in Brooklyn. That's why there's a good chance that the Nets get the 2012-13 version of Jack—the team will need him to be aggressive.
Last season, Livingston took just six total three-pointers, which averaged out to 0.1 attempts per game.
Jack, on the other hand, is no stranger to gunning.
A crowd favorite who feeds off of home-court energy, the former Cavalier will give Brooklyn a shifty transition threat on a nightly basis. The Nets were stricken with never-ending injuries last season, but Jack suited up for 80 of Cleveland’s 82 games.
“I'm very, very excited. Obviously, playing in New York is a compliment in and of itself," Jack told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "The opportunity to play at the Barclays every night, I couldn't be happier.”
Jack will be out there every night giving his all. And the Nets will be a better team because of it.
Karasev will likely be a long-term project
Sir-who Kara-what? If you’ve never heard of Sergey Karasev, don’t worry—you will soon.
According to NetsDaily (SB Nation), Brooklyn had its eyes on the 20-year-old Russian before he was snagged by the Cavs with the No. 19 pick in the 2013 draft.
Cleveland's crowded backcourt resulted in minimal playing time for Karasev, who averaged just 7.1 minutes a game with the Cavs and also spent time in the D-League.
And while he isn’t going to play a whole lot for the Nets next season, he’s going to have a mentor in Andrei Kirilenko to guide him along the way.
Here’s what Kirilenko had to say about Karasev, per NetsDaily:
I’ve known Sergey since he was a kid, I played on a team with his father. Of course I will always help Sergey. I don't like the word ‘patronize.’ I played on the Timberwolves with Alexey Shved and always tried to help him, give some advice, but never patronized him. Sergey and Alexey are grown up guys, they know it perfectly themselves what they need to do. There is no way I will interfere in Sergey’s life and I’m even less likely to play basketball for him.
Karasev, a sweet-shooting southpaw, is raw. At 6’7”, he’s still a beanpole and will struggle to defend opposing forwards until he puts some more meat on his frame.
He’s definitely going to be a project, but one that the Nets—and Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov—are glad to take on.
Next season, don’t expect a whole lot from Karasev, who put up 13.5 points on 45 percent shooting in 18 games in the D-League.
But a year or two from now, watch for this kid to take on a role in Brooklyn similar to that of Kirilenko.
What’s next this summer?
Although Jack’s contract is heavier than it should be, it won’t make that much of a difference to the Nets, a team saturated with luxury taxes.
Still limited to what it can do on the open market, Brooklyn will watch Pierce walk after "The Truth" averaged 13.5 points and 4.6 boards in 2013-14.
ESPN has learned that Pierce will sign a two-year deal with the Wizards at the mid-level exception with a player option entering Year 2— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 13, 2014
Sources say Nets passed on re-signing Pierce, opting to develop younger forwards like Karasev/ Bogdanovic instead of paying more to keep PP— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) July 13, 2014
Pierce's first choice wasn't D.C. He wanted LA or Nets. But as he looked at Wiz closer he said 'they're a pretty good team,' per source.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 13, 2014
That’s a devastating blow for Brooklyn, a team that relied on Pierce’s isolation scoring when the offense went stagnant. His leadership and toughness will be greatly missed, too.
All stats are accurate courtesy of Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.