Nets' Updated Trade Targets with 2021 NBA Deadline Approaching

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 4, 2021

Nets' Updated Trade Targets with 2021 NBA Deadline Approaching

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Brooklyn Nets did their heavy lifting in the trade market early with the mid-January megamove for James Harden.

    They lost depth, size and defense in the exchange, but they gained one of the most explosive offensive trios in NBA history. Between Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets are redefining the phrase "pick your poison."

    There's no right way to defend that trio and a multitude of wrong ways to do it.

    Brooklyn no longer has the trade chips to orchestrate another major exchange, but that's fine given the star power that already resides within Barclays Center. The Nets can make moves around the margins ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline, though, and the defensive end is clearly where to make them.

JaVale McGee, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    Trade talks have long connected the Nets to bouncy big man JaVale McGee. The chatter has been so loud, in fact, it has traveled all the way to McGee himself, who was asked about the rumblings by Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

    "I guess they take my time in Golden State and just plug me in there also, because they're like, 'He thrived when he was in Golden State so he definitely will thrive if he was over there in Brooklyn,'" McGee told Haynes (h/t

    McGee is well-versed in the art of superstar support. He suited up alongside Durant and Stephen Curry on the Golden State Warriors and then played with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Los Angeles Lakers, collecting three championship rings along the way.

    McGee's low-maintenance, high-energy blend of shot-blocking, rebounding and rim-running could be an ideal complement for the Nets' perimeter stars. Brooklyn needs reliable options behind DeAndre Jordan at the center spot, and McGee would be a consistent presence above the rim.

Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Size, length, athleticism, shot-blocking—yeah, you are sensing a pattern here, folks.

    The stuff about McGee could virtually be copied and pasted here, minus the star-studded championship celebrations. Nerlens Noel isn't quite as big or bulky, but he adds better lateral movement and lightning-fast hands. Offensively, he could handle the same screen, roll, rebound, repeat duties.

    Noel is a disruptive presence at the defensive end. He has a knack for getting his hands on the basketball, whether he's erasing shots at the rim, deflecting passes or swiping steals. He's the only player in NBA history with career marks of a 5.0 block percentage and 2.5 steal percentage (minimum 5,000 minutes).

    Noel's defensive acumen might make him a favorite of New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, but once the Bockers have a healthy Mitchell Robinson back, they could probably be talked into letting go of Noel for the right price.

P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The Nets can go two different ways in their search for depth at center.

    The first is finding a rim-running copy of Jordan to handle the minutes when he's taking a breather. The other is to plug a different kind of player into that position to switch up the on-court style.

    P.J. Tucker isn't a great shot-blocker or rebounder, mainly due to the fact he's a ground-bound, 6'5" player who would've been pressed out to the perimeter in the NBA's days of old. But he is a switchable defender who can harass wings and pester (much) bigger players in the paint. Oh, and he can splash a corner triple three, meaning when he's at the 5, the Nets' stars should have optimal driving lanes to penetrate.

    Tucker was arguably the second-most important member of the Houston Rockets team that routinely pushed past the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs the past two seasons. Harden, of course, was that club's star. Sharing the floor with one star or three wouldn't change much in the job description for Tucker.


    All stats courtesy of and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.