With all the hype and attention the Brooklyn Nets had received entering the 2020 Season, it seemed like they were a massive disappointment when it was all said and done. Brooklyn’s top two Free Agent acquisitions from 2019 both had minimum roles on the team, as Kevin Durant took the whole year recovering from his Achilles Injury, and Kyrie Irving only played in 20 Games due to a Shoulder Injury he suffered. Former Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson was fired after four seasons with the team due to conflict between Atkinson, Durant, and Kyrie near the end of the Regular Season.
Brooklyn just crumbled under all the pressure surrounding them to succeed. Brooklyn’s young core had to carry the team to the Playoffs for the 2nd straight year, only where they would get swept by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA Bubble. Even with all the disappointment and letdown Brooklyn had, the Nets can still change their fate of the 2020-2021 Season with another successful Offseason, along with finding their Franchise-leading Head Coach this Offseason. In this article, we will be discussing the Relevant Free Agents the Nets should keep tabs on, who they should select with their Draft Pick, and who they should try to re-sign this Offseason to set themselves up for an NBA Title run in 2021.
The Coaching/Front Office Situation
GM Sean Mark’s Top Priority this Offseason should be finding a suitable Coach to lead Brooklyn’s young and diverse Core deep into the Playoffs. The Nets' three best options for the vacant spot are Ty Lue, Mark Jackson, and current interim Head Coach Jacque Vaughn. All three are good options, but I think Brooklyn should hire Ty Lue as their new Coach. Lue is the most laid-back Coach of the three, and he will allow Durant, Irving, and Deandre Jordan to express their strong, expressive personalities. According to Sports Illustrated, Irving pushed for the hiring of Lue after the departure of Atkinson. It also helps that Brooklyn is built to win now, and Lue’s Playoff pedigree will only benefit the young Nets core.
Speaking of the Nets’ young core, I don’t think that Brooklyn should break it up in order to add a third star next to Durant and Irving. Yes, it would be nearly unstoppable to stop, especially in the Eastern Conference, but what if that third star, Irving, or Durant gets hurt and misses the rest of the season? In order to have three stars on a team, you usually won’t be the deepest team in the league. If Brooklyn was to trade Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, Jarrett Allen, or Tauren Prince in a blockbuster deal, they would lose all that production off the bench, plus you risk losing a star to injury and not having them for the rest of the year. If your Sean Marks, why not keep this core for one more year, see how it meshes with Durant and Irving, and if you feel like you need to make a change in 2021, then you can.
2020 NBA Draft
As Brooklyn was unable to win their first-round series against Toronto, this means that will have the 19th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Brooklyn’s biggest needs entering the Draft is a Power Forward or Center who can take control of the paint, very similarly to Joel Embiid’s or Shaquille O’ Neal’s style of play. I think Brooklyn should take Xavier Tillman out of Michigan State. Tillman was a force to be reckoned with in the Big 10, averaging 13.7 PPG, 10.3 RPG, and 3.0 APG. Tillman was a terrific role player who showed the toughness and versatility to defend multiple positions. To be able to get that kind of rotational piece at this point in the first round with very few needs is strong value. If Tillman’s 3-point shot becomes more consistent, Tillman should become a staple in Brooklyn’s Offense for years to come.
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Relevant Free Agents to Re-sign
Much like the Wizards, the Nets don’t have any major players to resign other than Joe Harris. Harris has been great off the bench for the Nets, as he has averaged 14.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.1 APG. Harris will be the Nets’ biggest priority this offseason, and GM Sean Marks has already come out and said that Brooklyn will try to keep Harris at all costs.
“Priority number one. It’s that simple, yeah,” said Marks “We’re obviously very proud of where Joe has come from. And where he is today. And he still continues to get better. (He) still wants to work on his craft. So, yeah, signing him and seeing him with this group will certainly be a priority for us.”
Harris is in line for a massive pay raise, and the Nets have the capability to sign him. In January, Nets governor Joe Tsai said he is absolutely prepared to pay the luxury tax if it means building a championship contender around Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Nets own Harris’ Bird rights, which means they can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him to a contract. They will have to do so because Harris will be targeted by other teams this offseason.
Relevant Free Agents to try to Sign
With the Drafting of Xavier Tillman, Brooklyn has no immediate needs besides guard depth off the bench, as Tyler Johnson and Jamal Crawford are both on expiring deals. With that said, let's look at some free-agent acquisitions that could go a long way for Brooklyn this Offseason:
1. Fred Vanvleet, PG, Toronto Raptors
Getting Vanvleet on the team would be awesome, but it’s unlikely that Vanvleet will even leave Toronto just to suit up for a new team, especially when Toronto looks poised to make another NBA Finals run. If Brooklyn can get Vanvleet on the team, this would give Brooklyn a great 1-2 punch in the backcourt with Irving and Vanvleet, or with Dinwiddie and Vanvleet off the bench Again, this is very unlikely it happens, but Vanvleet is someone to keep an eye on for Brooklyn.
2. Aron Baynes, C, Phoenix Suns
Baynes was a reliable backup behind Deandre Ayton in Phoenix and would play a big role behind Deandre Jordan and Jarrett Allen off the bench. Baynes was able to average 11.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 0.6 APG while he was the 4th or 5th scoring option in Phoenix. There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn't be mad to have Baynes who will facilitate, set crushing screens, and protect the paint with such ease. The best part is Brooklyn should have enough money to be able to bring Baynes to Brooklyn, just as long as the Suns don’t overpay for the 33-year-old.