EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Call it a predicament of their own doing.
Armed with the next-to-last selection in the first round of the NBA Draft later this month, and given some experts don't believe in the depth of this year's crop of players, if the Nets don't trade up they are faced with the prospect of hoping one of their higher-rated players falls into their lap. Otherwise, it's likely slim pickings, which is a result of the Joe Johnson trade in 2012.
With the Hawks exercising their right to swap first-round selections with the Nets this year, the Nets will pick 29th instead of 15th on June 25, meaning many of their top targets may be off the board when general manager Billy King makes the final decision. They also have a second-round selection at No. 41 overall.
"Where we are, we have to hope that some of the guys we have ranked higher drop to us," Nets director of player personnel Gregg Polinsky said Monday after the team hosted a pre-draft workout. "I think there's a bunch of ways to play this and Billy is quite creative. So, we'll see. It could even be that we move up to get somewhere, depending on what that will require.
"But obviously that will be he and ownership's decision solely, once we give them our opinion on what guys might be worth getting to somewhere higher in the draft. But right now, we've got to do our homework and be ready for [picks] 29 and 41."
Adding a quality player with athleticism and quickness -- two areas Nets coach Lionel Hollins said last month he hopes the Nets bolster in the offseason -- with those selections won't be easy.
A sampling of players drafted 29th overall in the last five years: Josh Huestis, Archie Goodwin, Marquis Teague, Cory Joseph and Daniel Orton. The Nets acquired Teague from the Bulls in 2014 for Tornike Shengelia, and Teague played 40 games for Brooklyn before getting traded to the 76ers in October for Casper Ware and a 2019 second-round pick.
So it's easy to see why they are hoping for a little luck if they stand pat.
"At 29, there's got to be, let's say, beauty in the eye of the beholder," Polinsky said, "that someone passed on not wanting and went to the next one. Or a guy that teams talk about not drafting [him] on need, but let's say they have two really quality point guards, and maybe on their board they have another guy that was a 'big' that was one slot below that guy [who] dropped maybe to the next team.
"So a guy that you are looking at that you valued maybe at 18 gets all the way to 26 and it's not because he doesn't deserve to be drafted higher. It's because teams in those positions -- just based on team roster type, rookie contracts, what other needs are, what their cap is -- there's a lot of reasons teams will pass on a guy that will drop a number of spots, not just one or two. And that's kind of where we are."
Polinsky said the Nets have a certain system they use when deciphering a player's worth, and follow it closely so they don't lose sight of that value in any potential trade discussions. He likened it to a restaurant critic-type website using a monetary graphic listing generalized prices for various establishments.
"What we've done for Billy as a joke is we've assigned dollar signs," Polinsky said. "And he said, 'What did you do, put me on a budget?' Nah, we kid him like that. But we try to assess the best we can, what we feel is a fair market value to go in and buy a pick. That's literally how we do it, with dollar signs on a guy. Are we right or are we wrong? It's just our opinion like every other team.
"Even though you say, 'Well, you have this much money to spend,' I still think that you should still spend it as if it's your own. And if you value that guy, what is he worth to you? That's how we do it."