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The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, examines the off-season plans for teams that didn’t make the postseason.
THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
Head coach and player development
The Nets need to find the best coach for them and not the most popular name.
The new coach will need to focus heavily on player development, which is something Brooklyn has lacked the last few years. With a nice core of young players in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, player development – not attempting to make the playoffs next season – should be the priority going forward.
Even with cap space this summer, the Nets will find the open market in July lean with big-name stars. The below-average free-agent class, however, could be a blessing based on how many needs the Nets have at each position. Instead of chasing big-name players, Brooklyn has an opportunity to build its roster from the ground up. Progress started in March, when the Nets tapped the NBA Development League pool to sign Sean Kilpatrick. The shooting guard blossomed in a reserve role and landed a guaranteed contract for next season.
The Nets will need to explore every option in July and look into the international market for players. The Nets should also take a page out of the Portland Trail Blazers’ playbook from last summer and target unrestricted free agents in the ages 25-27 range. Portland cornered the market by locking up players to long-term contracts that at the time were above market rate.
The Nets need to come up with a plan that involves more than a one- or two-year window. They need to develop and sustain their product for the long haul. Brooklyn cannot afford to be in the same situation five years from now.
Besides addressing the head-coaching position, the Nets need to fill holes across the board.
The Nets have a top-10 center in Brook Lopez and a versatile and reliable power forward in Thaddeus Young.
Hollis-Jefferson and McCullough are nice pieces who have yet to scratch the surface of their abilities. How they develop will play a key role in the Nets’ future.
The key questions for Brooklyn involve Bogdanovic.
Can Bogdanovic carry over his second-half performance into next season? Is he reliable enough to slot into the starting two-guard spot? The 27-year-old has shown flashes in his first two seasons but has not been able to string together a consistent body of work.
With ample cap space, Brooklyn will need to focus on finding a starting point guard and filling out the bench. In a free-agent class lacking proven names, Brooklyn will need to be patient and not overspend out of necessity.
NETS SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN
1. Brook Lopez
2. Thaddeus Young
3. Bojan Bogdanovic
4. Shane Larkin
5. Wayne Ellington
6. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
7. Chris McCullough
8. Thomas Robinson
9. Sean Kilpatrick
10. Jarrett Jack
$500,000/Full after June 30
FA cap holds
11. Sergey Karasev
Fourth-year rookie salary
12. Donald Sloan
13. Willie Reed
Restricted/early Bird rights
14. Markel Brown
Restricted/early Bird rights
15. Henry Sims
16. Jason Collins
17. Jerry Stackhouse
18. Andray Blatche
Deron Williams (stretch provision): $5,474,787
Andrea Bargnani (buyout): $323,599
FA cap holds:
PROJECTED CAP SPACE
Right now the Nets the have $24.7 million in room this summer. If everything breaks right – Larkin, Ellington, Robinson opt out and Jack is waived – Brooklyn will have close to $40 million in cap space.
JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: to Boston
Second round: have Clippers’ pick
2017: Boston can swap
2018: to Boston
Own all first-round picks starting in 2019.
Rights to: Juan Vaulet (2015, pick No. 39)
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