Guide to the trade deadline: Nets

The Vertical Insider Bobby Marks, a former longtime assistant general manager with the Nets, breaks down the Brooklyn Nets’ situation as the Feb. 18 trade deadline approaches.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris McCullough

Both rookies are untouchable for different reasons.

In a league void of elite wing defenders, Hollis-Jefferson fits the mold that every team is looking for. Before breaking his right foot in early December, the versatile Hollis-Jefferson impacted games for Brooklyn defensively with his length and ability to guard four positions. In the first year of his rookie scale contract signed in July and with the rising cap this summer, his value will only increase.

How does McCullough, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury, become untouchable? The answer is easy: It’s his potential lottery talent plus Brooklyn’s lack of draft picks. One can make the argument that if McCullough had stayed at Syracuse, he would have been a sure bet to be a top-15 pick in June’s NBA draft. The versatile McCullough has the size of a power forward and the versatility to guard both forward positions.

The 21 year-old Hollis-Jefferson and the 20 year-old McCullough should be staples in Brooklyn’s long-term rebuild. The rebuild in Brooklyn is going to take multiple years. Although stripped of picks in 2016 and ’18, the Nets’ mindset going forward should be more of a facilitator and not a giver.

The rebuild in Brooklyn is going to take multiple years. Although stripped of picks in 2016 and ’18, the Nets’ mindset going forward should be more of a facilitator and not a giver.

For everyone over the age of 21.

The Nets, who are in the middle of a shift within the front office, face a trade-deadline dilemma. Does the current management in place have authority to make a deal, or does it hold onto its cards and wait until a new general manager is in place?

Even with a below-average record, Brooklyn has three players that have good value around the league.

Brook Lopez, who is in the first year of a $60 million contract, is the perfect complement for a team lacking a low-post threat. Although injured in his first two-years in Brooklyn, Lopez, 27, has been remarkably healthy over the past two seasons. Still in the prime of his career, Brooklyn should listen if its assets can be replenished.

Thaddeus Young has regrouped to resemble the player he was in Philadelphia a few seasons ago. The 27-year old, who is in the first year of a four-year contract, is best suited to becoming the fourth option for a quality team. A first-year salary of $11.2 million should appeal to teams looking for an athletic power forward.

Although his scoring is up from 2014-15, swingman Bojan Bogdanovic’s consistency has been up and down this year. Bogdanovic, in the second year of a three-year deal, is still a lethal shooter when put in the right system. Bogdanovic, 26, will be a restricted free agent in 2017, making him appealing to Brooklyn or even another team.

A healthy Brook Lopez has value. (Getty Images)
A healthy Brook Lopez has value. (Getty Images)

Willie Reed

He must consent to any trade Brooklyn wants to make because he signed a one-year contract this summer and possesses early Bird rights. If Reed consents, his early Bird rights will not carry over to his new team.

Any move going forward for Brooklyn is about the future and not the now.

Long-term planning will be key for the Nets in the long run.

In need of a hidden gem

The Celtics have Brooklyn’s first-round pick in 2016, projected to be in the top 5.

The Celtics have the right to swap first-round picks in 2017 and the Nets’ unprotected first-round pick in 2018.

Brooklyn cannot trade a first-round pick until the 2020 draft.

The Nets do have the draft rights to 2015 second-round pick Juan Vaulet. The 19 year-old Argentinian was obtained in June for two future second-round picks. Considered one of the top young prospects in South America, Vaulet has battled thru ankle injuries over the past year.

Brooklyn was granted a $3.1 million Disability Exception when Jarrett Jack was injured in January. This exception will expire March 10 and allows the Nets to acquire, either through a trade or free agency, a player in the last year of his contract. Because Brooklyn is close to the luxury tax and not in playoff contention, this exception will most likely expire without being used.

The Nets also have two smaller trade exceptions of $1.3 million and $2.1 million that will expire later this summer.

Keep an eye on buyout talks with Joe Johnson in late February. With Brooklyn out of the playoff mix, talks could rekindle.

If bought out, Johnson will have a list of championship-level teams vying for his services.

Brooklyn could be armed with close to $40 million in salary cap space come July.

That space comes with only five players under contract and a roster with many holes.

The Nets’ biggest need will be shoring up the starting point guard and shooting guard positions. A below-average free-agent market for both positions will make it difficult to address those needs this summer.

A rising cap in 2017 should make the Nets think twice about using all of their cap space this summer.

Don’t be surprised if Brooklyn makes a smaller deal to create a roster spot.

The Nets did not pick up the fourth-year option on Sergey Karasev’s rookie contract, making the young Russian a viable candidate for a team looking to facilitate a deal with Brooklyn.

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