Table of contents
This is a list of 5 moves that could improve the Nets by the trade deadline in 2022. What does the current Nets payroll allow for in transactions and signings?
Brooklyn Nets payroll & the cap
The Brooklyn Nets have a very unusual payroll. It consists of 14 players. Eight of these players are making under $2.6M this season. Five of those eight are making 1.8M or less.
The NBA cap right now is at $109M. The threshold is around $132M and the apron is at $138M. The Nets payroll is over $165.5M and will be at about $165M next season as well.
What this means for the Nets payroll making moves
This means the Nets are well into the luxury tax. I’m not going to get into penalties and things like that, instead I’m going to explain what it means to trading or signing players.
Brooklyn was able to go way over the cap apron when they acquired James Harden because financially they weren’t over the cap threshold before the trade. Any trades now and the team has to be under the threshold of $132M for them to be completed.
Here are the Nets options
1) use Dinwiddie exception in 2021
Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL in the third game this season. The Nets have applied for and been granted a $5.7M disabled players exception. This may be Brooklyn’s best option to add a quality player if they use it right.
They have until April 19 to use this or it disappears. They can’t add it into another deal either. The $5.7M can only be used by itself.
2) Trade Kyrie Irving
Trading Kyrie Irving is an option that if done, most likely would happen after the 2020-21 season. The perfect player to play with Durant and James Harden is Klay Thompson.
Irving is making a nice chunk of change. He represents the Nets biggest overall contract and the third highest salary overall on the team. His deal is around $35M per on average in the next two years after 2021.
For another franchise looking at Irving, although it’s not a cheap contract, it’s not an insane contract either. There are plenty of players less talented than him that are making more money than Kyrie. His years are a positive for the Nets too. The team interested wouldn’t have to invest 4-5 years. He would only have two years left on his current deal.
Klay Thompson has the perfect skillset
Thompson suffered his second major knee before he could officially come back from his 2019 Finals ACL tear. I wouldn’t trade a healthy Thompson for Kyrie but he’s not healthy and the question will arise if he will ever be again at an elite level.
He brings great defense and pure shooting from the 2-guard position. He doesn’t need to dominate the ball either. Barely needs to touch it to torch the nets.
Both Kyrie and Harden need to dominate the ball and they don’t work defensively because they aren’t good defenders. Sometimes reasons are this simple.
Klay Thompson never needs the ball in his hands for extended periods of time. He in theory would mesh as well as anyone with Harden in the backcourt.
Harden couldn’t get along with Chris Paul for long. CP3 is going to be a first ballot hall-of-famer. His passing gets his teammates the ball in positions to score. Don’t understand how there could be any problems with playing with a player like that, but what are you gonna do.
Thompson might be an option, where without injury, I doubt he would’ve been. He’s also a risk. It doesn’t have to be Thompson, I’m only using him as an example because he would probably be a perfect fit.
Whoever the Nets try to trade Kyrie for, his skillset is as important if not more important than how good he is. You have to fix the weaknesses. Perimeter defense is a blinding weakness for Brooklyn. It will prevent them from winning a championship until it is addressed.
3) Trade both Harris & Jordan
I say trade both Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan because after the big 3, there isn’t anyone else on the Nets payroll to even consider trading to equal the money needed to work under the cap.
The rest of Brooklyn’s roster doesn’t equal Harris and Jordan’s salaries within the Nets payroll. What will DeAndre & Joe get you?
I’m not sure. There could be teams interested in Joe Harris and take-on Jordan’s salary too. I’m not sure how many teams would be interested or what they would offer in return. It is an option though. One of not many ay all.
4) Sign League Minimum deals
The Brooklyn Nets can sign league minimum contracts. This is all they will be able to sign through 2021-22. Any fans who think Brooklyn will be able to sign free-agents, you can’t unless they are league minimum deals.
The Nets won’t even be able to use their MLE because if they did the cap would become hard. The Nets payroll is and will be about $56M over the cap. They are about $27M over the apron too.
To sign any free-agents into this level of tax, it has to be a Bird rights player that the team is re-signing. Any sign-and-trades also turn the Nets payroll into a hard cap.
5) Go back in time and undo Harden trade
This isn’t the first time in the last decade that the Brooklyn Nets mortgaged the future for what they thought would win them championships.
I don’t see this incarnation ending any differently than the first time with Kevin Garnett and company. I wouldn’t want James Harden on my team.
As constructed, this team isn’t a true contender. No team who isn’t good defensively ever won a championship. You can disagree but you’ll just be wrong when the season ends.
The Nets payroll is over the deep end but if the waters are properly navigated with proper execution, they could find sunken treasure in the form of championship rings. If not they will just sink and drown in a futile attempt to find a championship.