The Nets continued to stockpile assets after making another future-oriented trade by taking on two expiring contracts in exchange for multiple draft picks.
In a league where cap space is limited, the Nets used its flexibility to relieve the Denver Nuggets the pain of paying the luxury tax next season by taking on the contracts of Darrell Arthur and Kenneth Faried. In exchange for taking these contracts, who both have one-year left on their deals, the Nuggets also sent the Nets a top-12 protected first round pick for 2019 and a second round pick in 2020.
The move can be compared to another trade the team made last summer, where the Nets took on DeMarre Carroll from the Toronto Raptors for a 2018 first round pick, which turned into recently drafted Dzanan Musa. Carroll started 73 games for the Nets last season. Faried and Arthur could find similar roles on the rebuilding Nets.
Faried is the more intriguing player the Nets acquired. He will look to rejuvenate his career in Brooklyn after falling out of the Nuggets rotation last season, who preferred to use players who can space the floor. The hope is that he is more of a case of bad luck in a bad situation than a player who is on his way out of the league.
Unfortunately for Faried, the same problem might follow him to Brooklyn. The Nets play a high-pace, high outside shooting volume under coach Kenny Atkinson. The team was second in the NBA in three point attempts last season, and Faried has never attempted more than 8 three pointers in a season.
At just 6’8, 225 pounds, Faried is too small to be a full-time center in the NBA, but his lack of shooting also makes him a less than ideal power forward in a league that is increasingly focused on spacing the floor.
Still, Faried is only 29-years-old, and the last time he had major playing time he averaged 12.5 points per game and 8.7 rebounds.
Even if he doesn’t work out, his contract comes off the books at the end of the season, and the Nets are a first-round pick richer because of it.
In another move, Jeremy Lin was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, one of the other teams with cap room, for a 2020 second round pick and future draft considerations.
“We would like to thank Jeremy for all of his contributions to the Nets organization both on and off the court over the past two seasons and wish him much success as he moves forward with his basketball career,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks.
Trading Lin’s expiring deal to the Hawks made sense for Brooklyn because it allowed them to make the trade with the Nuggets and it clears the path for D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie to take the majority of the playing time at point guard.
The Nets only have under $26 million committed in cap space for next season, assuming Allen Crabbe picks up his $18.5 million player option, along with the cap holds of D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who will both be entering restricted free agency.
The team’s patience in free agency shows a consistent and long-term approach to the franchise, and now with the disastrous trade with the Boston Celtics in the rear-view mirror, the team now controls its own fate in terms of draft picks and salary cap.
With the market for free agents being extremely underwhelming in 2018, the Nets could have easily used their cap space to sign players such as Jabari Parker, Zach Lavine or Clint Capela to offer sheets, which would be somewhat understandable for a team that lacks many young players with upside outside of Jarrett Allen, D’Angelo Russel and Caris LeVert, but their unwillingness to do so suggests the team has bigger plans for the future.
With two potential lottery picks in 2019 and over $70 million in cap space, the Nets could be in prime position to make a big splash next offseason. With the rumors of discontent in the Minnesota Timberwolves locker-room and him officially rejecting his extension offer, Brooklyn could be a player in acquiring Jimmy Butler once he hits free agency next summer.
Butler has expressed interest in playing with Kyrie Irving, who from New York City, and with the ability to sign two free-agents to maximum deals, the duo would certainly consider taking meetings with the Nets.
Even if the Nets are unable to land top free agents next summer, the team can still continue to build through the draft or possibly package the two picks plus to trade for a star player.