After everything the Brooklyn Nets went through this season,
they still entered the playoffs with the third-best championship
odds (+600), which is a testament to this team's talent on paper.
However, though they were considered a favorite to hoist the Larry
O’Brien trophy and boasted the NBA’s second-highest payroll
($174,811,922), the Nets failed to win a single playoff game.
Multiple players blamed Brooklyn’s lack of continuity. Kevin
Durant and Kyrie Irving played just 17 games together this season
after playing only 27 games together last year. Irving couldn’t
suit up in home games until late March due to New York City’s
vaccine mandate. A number of key contributors were acquired halfway
through the campaign, including Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and
Goran Dragic, making it even tougher for the team to get everyone
on the same page.
Injuries also impacted the team’s ability to play at full
strength and develop chemistry, as Durant missed 27 games with a
sprained MCL, Joe Harris suffered a season-ending ankle injury in
November and Ben Simmons dealt with a herniated disc in his back
after being traded to Brooklyn as the centerpiece of the James
Now, after being swept by the Boston Celtics on Monday night,
what’s next for the Nets?
“This summer is gonna be a very, very important summer for our
organization,” Durant said after the Game 4 loss. “We'll see where
we go next year."
Durant is correct, as the Nets will be one of the most
interesting teams to watch this offseason, and it’s possible that
their roster could look very different entering the 2022-23
The Nets have only six players with guaranteed contracts for
next season: Durant, Simmons, Harris, Curry, Cam Thomas and Day'Ron
Sharpe. Brooklyn already has $144,555,667 in guaranteed money on
their books for 2022-23. Next year’s salary cap is projected to be
$122 million and the luxury tax is expected to be $149 million, so
they’ll likely have one of the NBA’s most expensive payrolls once
The Nets are already close to being a tax-paying team before
factoring in any of their potential free agents such as Irving,
Drummond, Dragic, Bruce Brown, Patty Mills, Nic Claxton, Blake
Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kessler Edwards and David Duke
Irving has a player option worth $35,328,700. On Monday night,
Irving was asked about his future and said, “I don’t really plan on
going anywhere... There's no question where I'm going: I'm here
with 7 (Durant)."
Either Irving will opt-in and cost quite a bit, or he’ll opt-out
and potentially cost even more if he signs a new, multi-year deal
with the Nets.
Mills also has a player option, which is worth $6,184,500. He
could opt-in, but it’s also possible that the 33-year-old will
prioritize his long-term security and try to ink a multi-year
contract elsewhere. He's coming off a productive season, averaging
11.4 points, 2.8 threes and 2.3 assists while shooting 40.0% from
three, so he will likely have other suitors.
Claxton and Duke will hit restricted free agency, assuming the
Nets extend qualifying offers to both players ($2,228,276 for
Claxton and $1,576,305 for Duke). Also, Edwards has a team option
The rest of Brooklyn's players are unrestricted free agents
including Brown, Drummond, Dragic, Aldridge, Griffin and
Brown earned $4,736,102 this season, but he's going to get a
significant raise after his career-year, averaging 9.0 points, 4.8
rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks on .506/.404/.758
shooting splits. He was one of the Nets' most dependable and
versatile players all season long. He stepped up in the playoffs,
averaging 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and
0.8 blocks on .568/.429/.800 shooting splits. This is a relatively
weak free-agency class, so don’t be surprised if some team makes a
big offer to the 25-year-old.
When asked about the possibility of re-signing with the Nets,
Brown responded, “Yeah, hopefully. The season just ended. I’m not
thinking about it. If there's a chance to stay, we'll talk about
it. But we'll see."
It remains to be seen if Drummond, Dragic, Aldridge and Griffin
Drummond played well as the Nets' starting center, averaging
11.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 block and 0.9 steals
(while shooting 61.0% from the field) in 22.3 minutes per game.
When Drummond signed a one-year deal last offseason, it seemed like
he wanted to showcase his value and then ink a larger contract this
summer, so if he gets the kind of offer he’s anticipating, he’ll
likely be too expensive for Brooklyn to retain.
In a shockingly candid moment back in March, Drummond told
reporters: "If we're all being honest, I'm only here
‘til the rest of the season. Who knows what’s gonna happen in the
offseason? So they need a guy like [Claxton].”
Last season, the NBA world was outraged that a super-team like
the Nets was able to add Griffin and Aldridge for nothing via the
buyout market, putting them alongside their Big Three of Durant,
Irving and Harden. At one point, Brooklyn’s roster had a combined
41 All-Star appearances and 32 All-NBA selections. However, it
didn't translate to postseason success. It remains to be seen if
Griffin, Aldridge or Dragic will return. It’s possible that
Brooklyn will be able to attract other ring-chasing veterans to
take their places.
After all, despite their first-round flameout, the Nets will
once again enter next season as a top contender. If Simmons is able
to return his All-NBA, Defensive-Player-of-the-Year-candidate form,
it would be a huge addition that makes the Nets much scarier. And
the more Durant and Irving play together, the more dangerous
they’ll become as a duo. Also, with Harris and Curry, the Nets will
have two outstanding shooters to put around their Big Three. If
this team is able to stay healthy and develop chemistry, Brooklyn
has the talent to go on a deep postseason run.
Using the taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum deals,
Brooklyn shouldn’t have trouble surrounding its core with decent
When asked specifically about who might be back and what the
Nets need to add to their roster in order to contend, Durant
"We just got done playing. You know I don't know the answer to
that question right now,” Durant said. “I don't know the situations
with the contracts. I just don't know. Obviously when you lose in
the playoffs, you’re looking toward next year and who may be on the
team, and there's a lot of high expectations around the Nets so
people want to have some hope of what may happen in the future. But
at this point, an hour after the game, it's hard for me to
Another avenue for the Nets to improve is through the 2022 NBA
Draft, where they’ll have the No. 23 overall pick via the
Philadelphia 76ers. In BasketballNews.com's
latest 2022 NBA Mock Draft, Brooklyn is projected to
take Jaden Hardy of the G League Ignite with its late-first-round
The Nets can try to find a diamond-in-the-rough with that
selection, or they can attempt to trade that pick for a win-now
piece. Since the Nets will be above the luxury tax and the rookie
will be a relatively cheap contributor, it may make sense to keep
the pick. Remember, this year’s roster featured four rookies:
Thomas, Sharpe, Edwards and Duke.
In recent years, players such as OG Anunoby, Darius Bazley and
Rodney Hood have been selected at No. 23 overall. Other notable
players drafted at that spot include Tayshaun Prince, A.C. Green,
Wesley Person, Wilson Chandler, Bobby Jackson, Trevor Booker,
DeShawn Stevenson and Tyronn Lue.
While the roster could look very different, don’t expect the
Nets to make a coaching change. Steve Nash expressed that he hopes
to return as the team’s head coach, and Durant got annoyed and shot
down a question about whether Nash is still the right coach to lead
“Come on, man. Yeah,” Durant said. “Steve has been dealt a
crazy hand the last three years. He’s had to deal with so much
stuff as a first-time head coach — trades, injuries, COVID, just a
lot of stuff he had to deal with. I’m proud of how he just focused
and of his passion for us. We'll all continue developing over the
summer and see what happens.”
Durant did express that he wants to have some input over this
offseason’s personnel decisions.
“Yeah, of course! I want to know who I'm playing with out on the
floor. I want to know what we're thinking,” Durant said. “[Nets
general manager] Sean [Marks] and the front office, we all just
talk basketball regardless because we all enjoy basketball;
sometimes our team may come up and what we need and what I see from
a player’s perspective. We always have conversations and that’s
what makes great organizations.”
Irving made it clear that he wants to be involved in “managing
this franchise” as well.
“When I say I’m here with Kev, it really entails us managing
this franchise together alongside [Nets governor] Joe [Tsai], Sean
and our group of family members that we have in our locker room and
organization,” Irving said.
“It’s not just about me and Kev. We're cornerstones here, but we
have Ben and a few other guys who are under contract [too]. I think
we've just gotta make some moves this offseason and really talk
about it and really be intentional about what we’re building, and
have some fun with it and make it enjoyable.”
After a disappointing season, all eyes will be on the Nets to
see how their decision-makers attempt to right the ship.
If the last year has been any indication, there won’t be a dull
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