The Nets have made all their large selections, buying and selling Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, then extending coach Jacque Vaughn and holding GM Sean Marks.

Now comes the remaining: Filling in the remainder of the image. That’s what they’ll spend the remainder of this season and into the offseason doing.

Asset allocation

A supply described Marks and Nets workforce proprietor Joe Tsai as being “in lockstep.” One other informed The Submit that “possession has full confidence in that entrance workplace to construct for the long run.” With 15 video games left within the regular-season — and an undetermined quantity within the postseason — Brooklyn can be weighing methods to assault that future.

Not like the primary time Marks rebuilt — bereft of draft picks — now the Nets are armed with the fourth-most draft capital from 2023-29: A complete of 11 first-round picks and eight second-rounders, in addition to a team-record $18.1 million commerce exception, at present the most important within the league.

How will the Nets use all these property?

The remainder of this season ought to inform precisely what they want, the price of getting it and the timeline for buying it.

Although he now not has two of the NBA’s largest superstars to construct round, GM Sean Marks does have 11 future first-round picks between now and 2029 to reconstruct the Nets roster.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Submit

The Nets are assuredly not making all these draft alternatives themselves, however would they use picks, the commerce exception, present gamers, and many others. to get again available in the market for a star as quickly as this summer season?

Constructing Bridges

The non-negotiable centerpiece of the Durant commerce — the one the Suns refused to budge on final summer season — was Mikal Bridges.

“He’s the final word competitor,” Vaughn mentioned. “I really like that piece about him. He performs each single night time. He’s very unselfish. He provides of his time, of his information within the locker room, in the course of the video games. It’s actually been a pleasure to be round him and study him as a person.”

Sources have mentioned the Nets are “pleasantly shocked” with how Bridges has elevated his recreation. He’s additionally an ironman, having not missed a single recreation since his junior season — in highschool. That, plus his infectious persona, makes him a constructing block. However the way in which he’s leveled up his offense is essentially the most encouraging signal for what he might be for the Nets.

As Vaughn and the teaching workers have discovered what Bridges can do, they’ve baked in some mid-range appears on the elbow for him the identical method they did for Durant, analytics be damned.

The outcomes have been spectacular.

Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) drives to the basket against Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (11) during the second half at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn,NY. Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. The Milwaukee Bucks won 118-104.
The Nets have been shocked at how expansive Mikal Bridges’ offensive recreation is and have added some units for him that they beforehand ran for Kevin Durant.
Noah Ok. Murray for the NY Submit

Bridges was averaging 25.5 factors on white-hot 52.6/48.1/92.2 capturing splits getting into Thursday’s Milwaukee tilt, the primary participant in NBA historical past to attain 25 factors on 50/40/90 capturing splits via his first 10 video games with a brand new workforce.

He’s seen his utilization fee skyrocket, and Brooklyn has even used him as a main ballhandler, letting him play-make together with level guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

“They don’t use this time period for basketball, however [Bridges] is a five-tool kind of basketball participant, the place he does just a bit little bit of every part,” Joe Harris mentioned. “Offensively, he can positively carry the load for us. However he all the time makes the proper play, too; if he’s not getting the bucket for himself, he’s making a play for any person else.”

Vaughn & Co. should proceed to seek out the most effective methods to maximise Bridges. And the Nets should preserve creating him right into a participant who can come into subsequent season with a professional probability at being an All-Star.


In a wing’s league, the Nets not solely begin three — Bridges, Cam Johnson and Dorian Finney-Smith — however have Harris, Royce O’Neale, Yuta Watanabe (and Ben Simmons) coming off their bench. They’ll area a number of affords this summer season, and should resolve who to maneuver to steadiness out their wants at guard and middle.

Brooklyn Nets Cam Johnson (2) takes off on a fast break after a turnover by Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) during the first half at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.
Cam Johnson’s expertise on the wing are a number of the most prized attributes within the NBA, a actuality that’s anticipated to immediate Johnson to hunt a brand new contract value a minimum of $18 million per season.
Noah Ok. Murray for the NY Submit

And whereas Brooklyn doesn’t have to fret about Irving’s free company, they nonetheless have plenty of calls to make on that entrance, too, beginning with Johnson.

Set to be a restricted free agent, Johnson already turned down 4 years and $72 million from the Suns. However his tight relationship with Bridges, positional worth and standing as a part of the Durant deal make him exhausting to let escape.

A 6-foot-8 wing who can shoot 40 % from deep with stable protection will command prime greenback. Sources say his ground is $18 million yearly, and will simply prime $20 million. And with a brand new leaguewide TV deal kicking in after 2024-25, it’ll make the top of Johnson’s contract a smaller minimize of regardless of the wage cap turns into.

“I’ve mentioned this — as a result of this was a subject of debate once I didn’t signal the extension — that I’m nonetheless beneath contract at this second,” Johnson informed the Submit. “I nonetheless had that 12 months; I nonetheless have the remainder of this 12 months. And my aim proper now could be to win video games and make a playoff push.”

After Marks signed 4 restricted free brokers to supply sheets from July 2016 to July 2017, solely to see each one matched by their groups — Tyler Johnson (4 years, $50 million), Allan Crabbe (4 years, $75 million), Donatas Motiejunas (4 years, $37 million) and Otto Porter Jr. (4 years, $106 million) — might any person flip the tables with a giant run at Johnson?

In the meantime, Watanabe and Seth Curry are each unrestricted free brokers. O’Neale ($9.5 million) –—who leads the Nets in complete minutes performed this season — and Edmond Sumner ($2.2 million) are each partially assured for subsequent season.

Nerlens Noel #0 of the Brooklyn Nets warms up before playing the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on March 07, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
With little measurement behind Nic Claxton, the Nets are taking a detailed have a look at Nerlens Noel, who signed a 10-day contract with the membership this week.
Getty Photographs

And that doesn’t embrace Nerlens Noel, signed this week to a 10-day contract. With Simmons, who’d been serving as middle Nic Claxton’s backup, out with knee and again accidents (extra on that later), Brooklyn felt a necessity so as to add some extra measurement.

The Nets can solely signal Noel to 2 consecutive 10-day offers earlier than they must decide whether or not to maintain him. Which means seeing as a lot of him as doable now, as a result of Day’Ron Sharpe, now in his second 12 months, hasn’t appeared prepared for prime time but.

“I need to see might Nerlens play in a basketball recreation and contribute and be capable to choose up what we’re doing as a bunch,” Vaughn mentioned. “Additionally see his quickness if he can defend the rim. So I wanted to see that … so I made a decision to make use of a type of 10 days fairly rapidly to see what he was going to provide us.”

Vaughn and Marks should discover a dependable backup middle, and wish to seek out out if Noel has an opportunity to be that.

The defenders

Brooklyn can use the ultimate weeks to determine how they need (want?) to defend.

For the previous few years they’ve not solely switched greater than any workforce within the league, however extra utterly. They’ve switched one-through-five to make the most of Claxton’s versatility and talent to defend guards on the perimeter.

Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton (33) blocks Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis (6) in the second half at Barclays Center, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in Brooklyn, NY.
Nic Claxton thrived within the Nets’ switch-heavy defensive scheme, however has needed to modify with Jacque Vaughn’s choice to mix-up extra of the workforce’s coverages following the Kevin Durant commerce.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Submit

However he’s the one starter left from earlier than the Durant and Irving trades. With 4 new faces extra accustomed to taking part in conventional drop protection, Vaughn has tried to vary on the fly. Now he’s trying a number of defensive appears, typically going drop, zone or switching one-through-five, and others one-through-four.

“It’s all part of the sport,” Claxton mentioned. “If I say I need to be Defensive Participant of the Yr, I want to have the ability to be efficient in any protection.”

“It’s simply credit score to the coaches, placing us into conditions and educating us and studying, and clearly the blokes being prepared to regulate,” Bridges mentioned. “We’ve simply bought a number of defenses, and clearly the drop is one thing new, however coach has bought us proper and now we have the blokes to lock in and eager to win, in order that they’re prepared to do no matter and to study quick. It’s nice.”

Ben’s again

As talked about earlier, the Nets have loads of property to exit and pursue a professional scorer or potential star. Possibly a participant in his mid-20s with prime total choose pedigree and All-Star manufacturing already beneath his belt.

The place might they ever discover a participant like that? And what wouldn’t it take to get him in a Nets uniform?

Look on the top of their bench. And no matter it takes to get Simmons proper.

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons reacts to play during the first half against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn,NY. Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
Ben Simmons has performed a complete of 42 video games for the Nets since he was acquired in February of final 12 months.
Noah Ok. Murray for the NY Submit

Simmons missed his 24th recreation of the season Thursday in Milwaukee, and his eighth straight with knee and again woes. An MRI revealed again irritation, and he hasn’t performed since earlier than the All-Star break. It could be good to see him play this season, nevertheless it’s very important to see him taking part in nicely subsequent season, by any means crucial.

“We would like Ben again when he’s able to being again for us,” Vaughn mentioned. “The day-to-day factor, that’s only for me to say some time period to you guys. When the again will get higher, and when the knee will get higher, then he’ll be with us.”

Simmons averaged 14.3 factors and 6.0 win shares in his final 76ers season. Up to now this season, he’s at 6.9 ppg with simply 2.3 win shares, and no assure of taking part in once more in 2022-23. However with $78 million owed over the following two seasons, spending the following few months getting him proper for 2023-24 and past must be a prime precedence.