After falling out of favor in Denver last season, Kenneth Faried was traded to the Nets in an obvious “salary dump,” occupying a roster spot worth $13.76 million for the last year of his contract before heading to free agency next summer when the Nets clear salary cap space.
But that’s not the way Faried views what might be an opportunity to revive a career in which he averaged 11.4 points and 8.2 rebounds while living up to his nickname of “Manimal” with grit and toughness. Faried made just 32 appearances last season when Nuggets coach Mike Malone went to a spread offense that didn’t rely on his low-post presence.
When Faried was introduced Wednesday by the Nets, the 28-year-old was asked if he is motivated to prove he can be the player he was in the past. “Hey, I never stopped being the player I am,” Faried said. “There’s no ‘were.’
"The Nuggets wanted to go in a different direction. Brooklyn decided to ‘Hey, let’s pick up a still-capable player who can go out there and produce and lead a team and do the things he’s done from before.’ I’m excited to be here and produce.”
The Nets took a shot on Jahlil Okafor last season, a low-post center who couldn’t stretch the floor, and it didn’t work out. Like Okafor, Faried has limited shooting range, making just two of 20 career three-pointers in seven NBA seasons. But Faried is a far better rebounder and defender who also can mentor second-year starting center Jarrett Allen.
“I bring toughness; I bring energy; I bring excitement,” Faried said. “The fans are going to love me for my grit because I am one of those people who are going to give 110 percent every game.”
The Nets also introduced free-agent forward Treveon Graham, who played limited minutes with Charlotte but shot 43.8 percent from three-point range the past two seasons and showed he could play as a “stretch four” even though he’s only 6-5. The Nets are deep at the wings, but Graham might help the Nets improve their 20th-ranked three-point percentage of 35.6.
"I feel like I don’t take ill-advised shots,” Graham said. “I feel like all the shots that I do take are with purpose. As guys get more comfortable with each other, we’ll start to make more shots and that stat will go up.”
Faried and Graham said the Nets have enough talent to improve last season’s 28-54 record, and Faried envisions playing a major role.
“We want to get wins,” Faried said. “The intangible things I do, I want to rub off on my teammates. My energy is contagious. When I was in Denver and you hear fans chanting, ‘We want Manimal,’ it’s for a reason. I bring that energy, and that’s what I plan to do here.”