On the first day of the NBA’s free-agent negotiation period, the Nets’ options narrowed quickly and dramatically. Unrestricted shooting guard J.J. Redick, who was believed to have interest in the Nets, reportedly agreed to a one-year contract worth $23 million with the 76ers.
The deal first was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who said Redick had discussed a two-year deal with the Nets and a longer-term deal with the Timberwolves. Redick told ESPN that Philadelphia “is where I wanted to be.”
Although Redick owns a luxury apartment in Brooklyn, he likely would have been asked to come off the bench at shooting guard behind D’Angelo Russell, who recently was acquired by the Nets in the Brook Lopez trade. Of course, the 76ers will be breaking in consecutive No. 1 rookie guards Ben Simmons, who was injured all last season, and Markelle Fultz, so Redick’s role is unclear.
Nets general manager Sean Marks does not comment on free-agent negotiations, but he previously acknowledged the need for improved three-point shooting at small forward. Two restricted free agents, Otto Porter Jr. of the Wizards and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Pistons, are the leading candidates to receive a max salary offer from the Nets that would be worth $106.5 million over four years. Restricted Jazz free agent Joe Ingles reportedly agreed to 4-year, $52 million deal to remain in Utah.
An NBA source told Newsday that the Wizards definitely will match any offer to Porter, who met with his current team shortly after the negotiating period opened in the wee hours Saturday morning. But there was a development that might have put Caldwell-Pope within reach for the Nets.
The NBA source confirmed to Newsday that the Pistons agreed with free-agent point guard Langston Galloway on a three-year contract worth $21 million. That put the Pistons more than $4 million over their hard salary cap, making it impossible to match a max offer to Caldwell-Pope without making a trade to move salary.
“They have a hard cap,” the NBA source said of the Pistons. “It makes it much harder for them to sign Caldwell-Pope if [the Nets] go after him, much harder. Caldwell-Pope makes much more sense for the Nets.”
If the Nets were to offer Porter a max deal, it barely would put the Wizards over the luxury tax to match, and owner Ted Leonsis has committed to paying the tax to keep Porter. Also, any offer to Porter might hamstring the Nets because it would tie up their money until the Wizards matched it when signings can begin at noon on Thursday.
Since taking over as Nets general manager more than a year ago, Marks has made offers to three restricted free agents, and all were matched. The Heat matched an offer for Tyler Johnson and the Trail Blazers matched one for Allen Crabbe last summer. Early last season, the Rockets matched an offer for Donatas Motiejunas, who subsequently was waived and signed by the Pelicans because the Nets can’t negotiate with him again for a full year.
If Marks decides against going all-out for Caldwell-Pope or any other RFA, he might consider trying to take on more bad contracts that ultimately could be packaged for draft picks. The Celtics own the Nets’ first-round pick in 2018, and dealing bad contracts to teams in need of cap space would be a way to acquire draft picks that Marks could use to continue building a young core group.
Marks also could look for short-term deals with unrestricted free agents to bring in a power forward with three-point range. The Celtics’ Amir Johnson, who was linked to the Nets in some reports, signed a one-year deal worth $11 million with the 76ers, but the Hawks’ Ersan Ilyasova and former Kings forward Anthony Tolliver could be targets.