If there has been a theme to the offseason moves made by Nets general manager Sean Marks, it is that he is adding pieces who not only fit neatly with stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving but who have a comfort level with them. That trend continued on Saturday when Marks reportedly reached an agreement with 12-year veteran Jeff Green.
The deal first was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and was confirmed by Newsday with an NBA source. Signings can begin on Sunday, when deals can be announced after they are official.
Green played for the SuperSonics and Thunder alongside Durant from 2007-11. He spent the final 18 games of last season playing for the Rockets under coach Mike D’Antoni, who now is an assistant under new Nets head coach Steve Nash.
As a 6-8 forward/center, Green fills a need for a backup big man who can space the floor or be a small-ball center. Although Green reportedly signed a one-year deal for the veterans’ minimum, his acquisition suggested the Nets were out of the running to sign Raptors free-agent forward Serge Ibaka. Later Saturday night, Ibaka reportedly agreed to a two-year contract worth $19 million with the Clippers.
It’s fair to assume Marks consulted with Durant and Irving before adding Green to the fold, and the same could be said of the two second-year guards the Nets acquired earlier in the week, Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown. When they spoke to the media, Shamet and Brown said they worked out together with Durant and Irving this fall at the late Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Los Angeles.
For Brown, who was a defensive specialist with the Pistons, those practice sessions were the first time he got a little bit acquainted with Durant and Irving.
"We played a few times in pickup this summer out in L.A. And me and Kyrie kind of talked a little bit, so it’s been cool," Brown said. "I’ve guarded him a lot these past two years so I know exactly how he plays, and we’ll fit perfectly together."
Shamet was acquired from the Clippers, who faced Durant’s Golden State team two years ago in the playoffs. The two never discussed the possibility of his coming to the Nets, but they have a strong competitive relationship.
"Every time I’ve played against Kevin my whole career, I don’t know what it is, but we always talk, have a good relationship," Shamet said. "That whole playoff series against Golden State that I played my first year was great. Initially, build that relationship, and then, every time I’ve seen him since, it’s kind of been more and more. We were texting, but we didn’t really talk about any trades or any of that stuff. They could have had input. If they did and they wanted me, that’s great . . . I know I can add value."
Brown and Shamet will be valuable in different roles off the bench. Brown is an elite defender and Shamet is a career 40.2% three-point shooter.
"I think I just come in and bring a ‘dog’ mentality on the defensive end and match up with the best offensive player every night," Brown said.
Asked what qualities he brings that could surprise, Brown said, "I think my playmaking ability. I’m the only guard in Pistons history to have three games in a row with 10 rebounds. So I think I can just do a little bit of everything out there, get assists and scoring if I need to."
Playing with two high-caliber stars in the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should prepare Shamet to fit with Durant and Irving.
"Over my offseason, I’ve been able to play with those two guys, play against them, get to know them,'' Shamet said. "I like how they both play. They both move, they want to set screens and play in space. They’re unselfish, willing passers. They’re smart.
"My wheels have been spinning on how I can get involved and how I can get those guys shots and how I’ll be able to contribute. I’m just really excited. Obviously, I’ve been lucky. This is my third year in the league, and I’ve played with some really good players. These two just add to that list. I’m excited, and I really like what we have here."