The Nets are moving forward with an offseason plan that officially begins in earnest with this week's draft, and their mantra remains the same as it was when their season ended in May.
It's all about two individuals: Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.
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General manager Billy King has maintained that re-signing Lopez and Young are the top priorities in the coming weeks. He insists that his preference is to build around them, giving the Nets a solid one-two punch in the frontcourt.
Lopez and Young hold player options on their final year of their contracts, and the expectation is that both will opt out of their deals. They have a June 30 deadline to make their intentions known.
Given that the Nets have zero cap space and the next-to-last selection in the first round of Thursday's draft, chances are any heavy roster reconstruction will have to come in the form of a trade, and they don't have very many commodities that command attention on the market.
So King might have to get creative to retool a team that was the NBA's most expensive in 2014-15 but went 38-44 and lost to the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs after earning the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. With their limited resources, it will be a challenge.
Although his play and minutes tailed off after the All-Star break, the most movable piece could be Mason Plumlee because of his age (25), salary ($1.4 million next season) and participation with Team USA in last year's FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Joe Johnson, coming off the worst of his three seasons in Brooklyn in terms of statistics, might be a candidate to be moved if the Nets can find a taker for the $24.9 million on the final year of his expiring deal.
King already has said the Nets won't buy out the massive contract of Deron Williams, who's scheduled to pocket $21 million next season and has a $22.3-million player option for 2016-17. Other than a few brief flashes, he has been maddeningly inconsistent since inking that five-year, $99-million pact in 2012.
Having a combined $46 million in salary-cap space eaten up by Williams and Johnson certainly has hurt the Nets with their declining production. Factor in potentially re-signing Lopez ($16.7 million) and Young ($9.9 million) to pacts close to salaries matching their player options, plus the combined $9.7 million in salary for Jarrett Jack and Bojan Bogdanovic, and the Nets will have nearly $83 million committed to six players.
Early projections reportedly have the 2015-16 salary cap at around $67.1 million. Should those projections bear out, the Nets will be above the luxury-tax threshold again, and that has them staring at the dreaded repeater tax.
The only way that can change is to swing a trade that brings back less in salary. But King has said the Nets will not be in slash-and-burn mode and won't purposely try to cut costs in assembling a roster.
"I'm not really looking at the cap or the tax," King said at one of the team's pre-draft workouts earlier this month. "The goal, as I've said from Day 1, is to get them re-signed, and then we'll build the team after that. I'm not saying, 'I got to be under the tax, I got to let Brook and Thaddeus go.' . . . There's not the mandate to stay under the tax. I'm not saying, 'How do I keep Brook and Thaddeus and stay under the cap?'
"The goal is to retain them and see where we finish after we fill out the roster."