The Nets’ news bomb dropped just after midnight ET Friday morning when ESPN first reported that general manager Sean Marks had traded point guard Jeremy Lin to the Hawks and had taken a major salary dump from the Nuggets and received a protected 2019 first-round pick in exchange for Isaiah Whitehead in a separate but related deal. An NBA source confirmed the details of both deals to Newsday.
The two deals represented a sort of give and take for Nets fans. On the one hand, Lin was a popular figure who played only 37 games in the past two seasons after signing a three-year deal worth $38 million. He had done everything in his power to recover from a season-ending patella tendon injury suffered in the opener last season.
On the other hand, the Nets acquired Denver’s 2019 first-round pick, which is protected from 1-12, according to the NBA source. The Nets also will get Nuggets power forwards Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur. Denver is expected to waive Whitehead, who is coming off wrist surgery, according to ESPN, which also reported that the deal will save the Nuggets a total of $43 million in salary and luxury tax.
The Nets could have two first-round picks next June, but if the Nuggets’ pick falls into the 1-12 range, it’s certain a contingency plan is in place that will determine when the Nets would get Denver’s first-round pick in the future, another NBA source said.
In the deal for Lin, ESPN reported that the Nets will get Isaia Cordinier of France, who is not expected to play for them, and a 2020 second-round pick. The Hawks will get the right to swap 2023 second-round picks and will get the Nets’ 2025 second-round pick.
At the Las Vegas Summer League, Marks had contended that there was no urgency to solve the Nets’ glut at point guard. “As we’ve seen before, it’s been handy to have a couple of extra point guards,” he said. “There’s absolutely no need for us to rush and go out there to do any particular deals as you mentioned to solve the so-called glut at point guard or whether it’s to get a shooting four or whatever it may be.”
At the end of the season, Marks also said no one should “ever count Jeremy Lin out.” But when push came to shove, that was the contract he unloaded to the Hawks, who will pair Lin with first-round draft pick Trae Young, a high-scoring point guard from Oklahoma who also can play the two position.
The Nets have a need for a “stretch four,” a power forward who can hit three-point shots. Neither Faried, who is 6-8, nor Arthur, who is 6-9, truly satisfies that need.
Faried was the No. 22 overall pick in 2011 and averaged 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds over his career with the Nuggets, but he fell out of favor last season and played limited minutes in 32 games.
Arthur was drafted 27th overall by New Orleans in 2008 and immediately traded to Memphis. He started as a rookie but has come off the bench since then and has career averages of 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. His three-point percentage is a respectable .352, but he hasn’t been asked to do it on a volume basis and likely won’t fulfill the Nets’ need.
Faried is scheduled to make $13.7 million next season and Arthur is on the books for $7.45 million, but each is in the final year of his contract. After the Nets let them go in 2019, they are expected to have close to $70 million in cap space in a strong free-agent market. That’s enough for two maximum salary slots.
Notes & quotes: The Nets’ first-round draft pick, 6-9 wing Dzanan Musa of Bosnia and Herzegovina, signed a four-year deal beginning at an estimated $1.63 million and totaling $9.15 million. Only the first two years are guaranteed. According to European website Sportando, Nets second-round pick Rodions Kurucs agreed to a four-year deal worth $7 million plus a $750,000 buyout to F.C. Barcelona, his European club. That deal most likely is not guaranteed beyond two years.