Trade Packages and Scenarios for Brooklyn Nets Stars on Trade Block
The Brooklyn Nets tried buying, buying and buying until their roster was as bloated with past-prime talent as it was with oversized expectations.
Sitting at 8-11 with no realistic hope of title contention now or in the future, they're apparently ready to consider trading instead.
According to Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com, "The Brooklyn Nets have begun reaching out to teams to let them know that former All-Stars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are all available via trade."
Moving any of those players (let alone all of them) will be nearly impossible. Williams is owed $63 million through the 2016-17 season, Johnson will collect $48 million over the next two years, and Lopez has another $32 million on the books through 2015-16.
And not one of them is playing well enough to remotely justify those dollar figures.
Nonetheless, the Nets will endeavor to move them—and not just in an effort to dump salary, bottom out and start over. Stein and Youngmisuk also reported Brooklyn's desire to get talent in return that would keep the team in the playoff hunt this season.
As long as the Nets are dreaming about unloading three overpaid, undesirable assets, I guess they might as well dream ridiculously big.
"We're on the phones, we're talking to people, but there's nothing imminent," Nets general manager Billy King said on Dec. 1, per Stein. It seems things are accelerating now.
All of the following deals work under the collective bargaining agreement and NBA salary cap.
Joe Johnson Heads to Charlotte
Charlotte Hornets Get: Joe Johnson, Mirza Teletovic
Brooklyn Nets Get: Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
The first caveat here is that Michael Jordan's Charlotte Hornets can't trade Stephenson or Williams until Dec. 15 because acquired free agents can't be dealt until that date or three months after their contracts were signed, whichever comes first.
The second caveat is that the Hornets would have to be willing to surrender relatively inexpensive pieces of their future—albeit ones with very clear limitations—in exchange for the perimeter shooting they desperately need.
Stephenson has been a bust in Charlotte because of his ball-stopping ways and broken perimeter shot. But the Brooklyn native and high school legend would immediately be a Barclays Center darling. Johnson will definitely stop the ball, but he's built a career on knowing what to do with it when he does. Teletovic is the real steal here, and the piece Brooklyn would least like to surrender.
But if you're trying to move a one-dimensional scoring guard making $23 million per season, you're going to need a quality sweetener.
Both teams require a shake-up, and there's some mutual appeal if you can get past the shock of Charlotte so quickly declaring its summer rebuild a failure.
Lopez in Los Angeles
Los Angeles Lakers Get: Brook Lopez
Brooklyn Nets Get: Jeremy Lin, Julius Randle
A year ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in acquiring Lopez, according to Stein:
Sources with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN.com that the Lakers did indeed engage the Nets earlier this month in some exploratory talks to see if Brooklyn had interest in such a swap. Sources say that the Nets balked at the idea when it was presented before Lopez's injury, but it's still noteworthy if it happened.
A lot has changed since then. The principal outgoing piece from the Lakers, Pau Gasol, is gone. Lopez has since undergone surgery on his broken right foot and left ankle, and he's now out with a back injury.
Calling him a buy-low candidate understates things profoundly.
But if the Lakers want to regain some of their free-agency clout, install a big name next to Kobe Bryant and hope the 26-year-old big man eventually puts his health issues behind him, there's at least some hope of a deal.
L.A. got Lin for next to nothing over the summer, and head coach Byron Scott has since benched him. His appeal in Los Angeles is nearly gone, but we know he was a hit during his time in New York.
Randle is out for the year with a broken leg, and Lakers fans in favor of a thorough rebuild will surely balk at giving up on the team's only promising prospect. But getting a big name—even one as flawed and potentially ruined by injury as Lopez—might require giving up the rookie.
As for Lopez's salary complicating the Lakers' bigger free-agent plans this summer, keep in mind the fact that his $15 and $17 million salaries over the next two years won't look nearly so bad if the cap climbs as expected. Plus, L.A.'s books will still be clear for the pivotal summer of 2016, when Lopez's deal expires, and Kevin Durant hits the market.
Deron Williams Hits the Motor City
Detroit Pistons Get: Deron Williams, Mason Plumlee
Brooklyn Nets Get: Greg Monroe, Brandon Jennings, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Joel Anthony and protected first-round pick
If this seems like a lot for the Detroit Pistons to give up for an aging point guard and a backup center, look a little closer.
Monroe will not be back in Detroit next season. His decision to sign a one-year qualifying offer over the summer made that abundantly clear. Stuck with Josh Smith and preferring to build around Andre Drummond, the Pistons simply don't have a place for Monroe (who can't be traded until Dec. 15, by the way).
He's just going to leave for nothing, so trading him for a starter and one of last year's best rookies in Plumlee (a guy whose somewhat limited game makes him a more suitable backup to Drummond than Monroe) isn't a bad move overall.
Of course, there's no guarantee Monroe would re-sign with the Nets, which is why the protected pick has to be included as a sweetener. Detroit, in a rarity these days, doesn't owe a single pick to another NBA team right now.
Williams is a better player than Jennings, whose low-efficiency shooting and ball-stopping ways don't help the growth of Detroit's young players. The Nets, though, would happily take the remaining $16 million he's owed over the next two seasons in order to rid themselves of the $63 million D-Will is due to collect over the next three.
Caldwell-Pope and Anthony are in there to make the salaries work, though KCP still has enough potential to give the Nets an intriguing piece on a rookie deal.
Do the Pistons jump at this? Maybe not. But at 3-18, they can't afford to turn away from any chance to retool.
Super Duper New York Blockbuster
New York Knicks Get: Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett
Brooklyn Nets Get: Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, Iman Shumpert, Shane Larkin
Admit it: It's hard to resist the appeal of a cross-borough swap like this.
Two of the NBA's most free-spending, big-swinging, wild-eyed transactors getting together to exchange unwanted goods is fascinating. And if you think about the parties involved here, there's actually a case to be made that both clubs benefit.
The Nets, Stein and Youngmisuk say, aren't just trying to cut bucks from their books. And nothing ever came of owner Mikhail Prokhorov's "anyone want to buy my team?" feelers before the season. But if Prokhorov ever did reopen the possibility of a sale, a potential buyer would find a team with a drastically lower payroll far more attractive than the one that exists now.
Hence the expiring deals of Stoudemire, Bargs and Shumpert—the last of whom Brooklyn would be wise to keep around. Shump isn't a throw-in here; he's the heart of the deal. Larkin's involved for salary purposes, of course.
Hypothetically, Brooklyn could shave $47 million from its current cap figure by pulling the trigger here. That's hard to overlook.
For the Knicks, Williams fills a hole at the point, Lopez (if healthy) can score on the block and the elbows, and KG seems like an ideal fit in the triangle. Though he can't play major minutes anymore, his influence in the locker room and multiskilled game could help New York across the board.
Full disclosure: I think we all just want to see the fireworks of a megadeal between these two teams.
Brooklyn Nets Get: Status Quo
Of course the Nets want to rid themselves of high-salaried vets who haven't led the team to success this season. That's what any right-thinking organization would do in this situation, especially an organization that has also traded away tons of draft picks and has no other clear avenue to get better.
But every one of these deals is a massive stretch, and it takes some gold medal-caliber mental gymnastics to rationalize any other team taking on the kind of salary Brooklyn wants to unload.
What we should take away from this development, though, is that the Nets are going to do something. And while they can't realistically jettison all of their bad deals, they can make incremental tweaks.
We should expect Andrei Kirilenko to be on the move at some point in the near future. He's unhappy, not playing and could still help another team, even if he only represents cap relief via a waiver. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports the Nets and Sixers are closing in on a swap for AK-47, which would make sense for both teams.
And another thing: Garnett could help just about any team with his experience, defense and attitude. He'd have to approve any trade, and there's no telling whether or not he'd be willing to pick up and move cities in what'll probably be his last season.
But if Brooklyn wants to get better, it could probably get some valuable future considerations for KG.
As for the Lopez-Williams-Johnson triumvirate…don't get your hopes up for a deal.