The Brooklyn Nets should be competing for the Finals every year. After the blockbuster offseason of 2019, it seemed like the Larry O’Brien trophy was destined to end up in Brooklyn. With KD and Kyrie this team had all the offense in the world, and they were able to get stops when it counted. 2021 should have been their year, but all the Nets had to show was a first round exit at the hands of the Boston Celtics. They had excuses with Kyrie’s absence and another midseason Harden trade, but at the end of the day a core with KD and Kyrie wasn’t able to win a single game in the playoffs. After two years of little success, the Nets could be on the lookout for someone to try and change the dynamic within the team. With three max contract players, the Nets will be forced to look internally and at the bargain end of free agency for anyone to infuse energy into the team.
With three max contract players on the roster, the Nets are limited in their flexibility and must rely on the improvement of team chemistry and individual players in order to improve next season. The good thing for the Nets is that 2 of their max slots are taken up by bona fide stars and the third, Ben Simmons, could be everything that the Nets need. If Simmons can get healthy for the 2023 season and regain some form of the player he was in Philadelphia, he would fit everything that the Nets need. They already have an abundance of scoring talent in Kyrie, KD, and Seth Curry but this team still lacks a true playmaking point guard and good defenders. This is exactly what Simmons brings to the table, and with the shooting that Brooklyn has it is possible for the Nets to nullify the spacing issues that Simmons brings. If the Nets can play 3 shooters around Simmons, he will be able to make plays driving to the basket and take on the hardest defensive assignments every night. If Simmons can stay healthy, the Nets will be able to open a whole new dynamic where KD and Kyrie are able to play off-ball while also not being picked on every defensive possession.
With six players coming off the books, the Nets are going to be looking for more vets who are willing to take pay cuts in order to chase rings. We could Patty Mills pick up his player option, but that still leaves major holes within the Brooklyn bench. One of the main priorities for this team should be locking up Nic Claxton, who provides the pick-and-roll/paint defending big that centers the entire offense and defense.
The rest of the roster can be filled out with vets on the roster such as Goran Dragic and Lamarcus Aldridge or with vets looking for a one year deal such as P.J Tucker or Malik Monk. Someone that the Nets might need to compromise in order to keep Claxton is Bruce Brown. While Brown allows the Nets to play small, his lack of size and inability t0 create on his own makes him replaceable by the likes of P.J Tucker who brings the same type of energy as Brown.
The last domino to fall for the Nets is Kyrie Irving. He is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA and has made the Nets one of the most polarizing teams. This domino may never fall and Kyrie and KD may try and run it back, but there is also the growing unrest within a team destined for greatness that hasn’t come. The question mark within this whole situation is the actual value of Kyrie Irving. How much are teams willing to spend on a generational point guard that might leave the team for half a season. A team like Washington or Utah might be willing to trade their superstars, or a team like the Heat might make the best offer with Tyler Herro and a few picks. The Nets want this experiment to work, and they will try to maximize the value out of Kyrie, and if he’s on board we might see the deadliest iteration of this Nets team.
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