The Brooklyn Nets just don’t care. They don’t care about your luxury tax, they don’t care about their potential end of season bill, and they don’t care that you find it laughable that they’ll be possibly paying nearly $220 million in player and coach salaries this season once taxes are factored into things. Put your wallet away, they’ve got the check.
The newest check player the Mikhail Prokhorov-owned team is bringing in is former New Orleans and Sacramento swingman Marcus Thornton, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, a player whose numbers have tailed off considerably for the worst team in the West. The Kings will receive Jason Terry and Reggie Evans in return, two players that are well-liked in the locker room, but two performers that have seen their production tail off just as much in 2013-14.
The difference between a slump year for Thornton and a bum year for Terry is the distinction in ages, as Thornton is still only 26 years old and four and a half seasons into his career. Marcus enjoyed a fantastic rookie season in New Orleans, and had his best season during the NBA’s 2011-12 lockout-addled year; averaging 18.7 points while starting 51 games for Sacramento.
Thornton doesn’t do much else but score, though, and when he’s finding it tough to put the ball in the hole, the Lousiana State product turns into a bit of a millstone. That’s why, even on the perpetually-terrible 18-win Kings, he’s playing just 24.4 minutes a contest. Thornton is shooting just over 38 percent from the field and just under 32 percent from long range, and because he doesn’t help in any other areas (just 3.7 combined rebounds/assists per game), he’s dragging a very bad team down with every wasted minutes he plays.
Terry, presumably, just won’t play. At age 35, he’s shooting average marks from long range but just 32 percent on his two-pointers, working for just 16.3 minutes per game – nearly half of what he averaged three years ago as the sparkplug off the bench for a championship-winning Dallas Mavericks team. Terry has been in decline ever since, and Reggie Evans (at 13.3 minutes per game with Brooklyn) figures to be working through the same ordeal. Even if Evans’ rebounds per minute numbers are typically fantastic.
So why dump Thornton at his lowest ebb? Well, there is the chance that Terry and Evans bounce back in Sacramento, but the Kings really made this move to cut costs. Terry and Evans are on the books next season, but they’ll make over $1 million less than Thornton will in 2014-15. That’s not exactly a complete cap-clearing move for newish Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro, but it’s not as if Evans and Terry are completely dead in the water, either. Both still own the potential to be fringe contributors.
And if Thornton can return to his 2012-ways, he’ll help a Nets team trying to slide past what should be an embarrassing seventh mark in the Eastern Conference. Thornton’s contract (over $17.5 million combined this year and next) and the possible addition of a player like Jordan Hill with Brooklyn’s Disabled Player Exception will vault that total coach and player payroll to over $215 million this season. All for a team that is on pace for 39 wins.
Replacing Alan Anderson’s minutes with a re-invigorated Marcus Thornton may not shift that 39-win needle much, but the Nets don’t really mind that. They’ve got a playoff spot to secure, and they don’t mind spending freely to lock that thing in.
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