Clearly, the Nets are in "win-now" mode with veteran superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving joining a team with the goal of winning the NBA title. General manager Sean Marks underlined that aim when he traded the Nets’ No. 19 overall pick in the first round of the NBA draft as part of a three-team deal that will add second-year shooting guard Landry Shamet to a roster that can use his three-point marksmanship.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report news of the deal, and Newsday confirmed it with an NBA source. The Nets exercised the pick for the Pistons by selecting Villanova forward Saddiq Bey. The Pistons sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers, who in turn sent Shamet to the Nets. The deal still had to be cleared through the league office before the Nets can announce it and it becomes official.
Shamet was the 26th overall pick of the 2018 draft by the 76ers and was traded to the Clippers during his rookie season. In two seasons, he has averaged 9.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in a bench role, but what jumps off the charts is his 40.2 % shooting from three-point range.
Late in the second round, the Nets made another deal with the Clippers that was confirmed to Newsday by an NBA source. With the No. 55 pick, the Nets took junior college guard Jay Scrubb and sent him to the Clippers in exchange for No. 57 pick Reggie Perry, a 6-10 F/C who played two seasons at Mississippi State. As a sophomore, Perry averaged 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists and hit 32.4% from three-point range (23 of 71).
The draft night trades followed one earlier this week by Marks, who unloaded swing man Dzanan Musa to the Pistons in a deal that brought guard Bruce Brown, who is viewed as a defensive specialist. The fact that Marks brought in two guards, including Shamet, suggests that he might be re-tooling the backcourt to make a run at Rockets superstar James Harden, who has made it clear he would like to be traded to the Nets to form a high-powered "big three" with Irving and Durant.
Some combination of young players such as guards Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie, center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince most certainly would be involved in any Harden deal.And starting in 2021 the Nets control all of their first-round picks going forward and also own four second-round picks in the 2021 draft.
According to ESPN and the Houston Chronicle Harden earlier this week turned down the Rockets’ offer of a two-year contract extension worth $103 million as a sign of his determination to force a trade to the Nets.
However, a subsequent ESPN report quoted "sources" as saying the Rockets "are willing to get uncomfortable" while holding on to Harden and backcourt mate Russell Westbrook, who also has requested a trade, until the right deals materialize. An NBA source who has spoken with Rockets management also told Newsday the Rockets prefer to keep Harden and continue trying to build a championship contender around him, but that source added it would be a "no brainer" for the Nets to trade for Harden if given the chance.
Earlier on Wednesday, another report said the Nets talked with the Mavericks about a deal for Dinwiddie, but it was unclear if that was a separate move or part of a larger one that also could involve the Rockets and Harden. A second NBA source told Newsday no deal was imminent between the Rockets and Nets and no framework is in place.
Asked in a recent conference call for his thoughts on a potential Harden trade to the Nets, ESPN NBA analyst Bobby Marks, a former Nets assistant GM, noted that it would inflict a heavy toll on the roster because Harden still is under contract for three seasons worth $131.5 million and only can be added via a major trade haul.
"What do you have left?" Marks said of a deal that undoubtedly would involve Nets core players. "You have three top-15 players on your roster, and then, maybe you go out and sign [Nets free agent] Joe Harris. But most of your core players are going to be gone."
But with Shamet and Brown in the fold, the Nets might have the ammunition to get Harden.