The trade moratorium hasn’t lifted yet. So we don’t know when the Nets and other teams can start making deals. But it’s never too early to throw out some predictions. So here is our big board of offseason scenarios for Brooklyn:
Re-sign Joe Harris
The Hawks are among many teams that will have interest in Harris, one of the top shooters in the NBA. If Harris’ market is lower than expected, the Knicks will have interest as well. But it would surprise many teams if the Nets didn’t re-sign Harris. GM Sean Marks said months ago that the club’s top priority was to bring Harris back. Several teams believe Brooklyn and owner Joe Tsai will spend whatever it takes to sign Harris. So it would be a surprise if the Nets were outbid for the 29-year-old.
Explore the market for Spencer Dinwiddie?
We don’t know if the Nets have any desire to trade Dinwiddie, but we know that several Western Conference contenders have talked internally about Dinwiddie as a potential trade target. On the surface, it probably seems silly to entertain offers to trade Dinwiddie, one of the driving forces behind Brooklyn’s resurgence over the past few years. But Dinwiddie will likely be a free agent next summer and if the Nets re-sign Harris to a big contract, it will be expensive to sign Dinwiddie to the kind of contract he’s likely to demand on the open market.
If Dinwiddie has another strong season for Brooklyn in 2020-21, he’ll probably draw interest from several teams with cap space in 2021. So the Nets would risk losing him without compensation. That’s why I think they will at least gauge the market for Dinwiddie trades in the offseason. Another trade that’s been rumored by a Sports Illustrated reporter? Brooklyn engaging with Houston on talks for a James Harden trade. The Athletic reported that Harden is set on returning to Houston for 2020-21.
Sign Serge Ibaka?
As Forbes’ Mike Mazzeo notes and SNY sources can confirm, prominent members of the Nets organization would like to see the club sign free agent Serge Ibaka. Ibaka is close with Kevin Durant, and he’d be an incredible addition for a club with title aspirations. But can Brooklyn afford Ibaka? It seems highly unlikely that he’ll sign for the tax-payer exception ($5.7 million per year). Ibaka made $23 million dollars last season.
Some teams preparing for Ibaka’s free agency believe he’d at least consider the non-tax payer midlevel exception for four years. That exception starts at $9.2 million and has maximum raises of five percent. Those teams monitoring Ibaka’s free agency believe he’d have interest in a deal in the neighborhood of three years and $12-15 million per year from teams with cap space.
The Nets can’t offer the latter because they won’t be able to get under the salary cap. But if they shed enough salary by trading players to teams who can absorb their contracts into cap space, it’s possible they can offer Ibaka the non-tax payer midlevel exception. Some teams believe Brooklyn will pursue options to shed salary via trade once the moratorium lifts.
What to do with the 19th pick?
If they are motivated to shed salary via trade, the Nets could use this pick as a sweetener in this kind of transaction. SNY sources confirm that members of the Nets organization are high on RJ Hampton. But will Hampton, whose Nets’ interest was first reported by the NY Post, be available at 19? If the Nets like Hampton enough, do they trade up for him? It would seem like a stretch for a team with title aspirations to use assets to trade up for a rookie, but maybe Brooklyn sees Hampton as an important part of its bridge to a post Durant-Irving era?
Veteran Garrett Temple has a $5 million team option on his contract for 2020-21. He’s a valuable locker room presence and can also help the Nets and other teams on the court. Teams doing their homework on Garrett earlier this month believed Brooklyn would decline the option. Things could have changed between then and now, based on what the Nets anticipate happening in the draft and free agency. But this move would open up a roster spot. There’s always a chance that Brooklyn declines the option and re-signs Temple to a smaller deal. But Temple, a highly-respected veteran around the league, would draw interest from many teams as an unrestricted free agent.