The NBA trade deadline came and went with franchise center Brook Lopez still wearing a Nets uniform, and yet the organization added a first-round pick and two useful players with upside. That’s about as close as general manager Sean Marks could come to having his cake and eating it, too, in his first deadline day performance for the Nets.
No worthwhile deal materialized for Lopez, which means he and point guard Jeremy Lin will have the chance to show what they can do together in the final 26 games of the season, starting Friday night in Denver. But Marks landed Washington’s No. 1 draft pick this year plus veteran forward Andrew Nicholson for Bojan Bogdanovic in a deal completed Wednesday night. On Thursday, he added small forward K.J. McDaniels from Houston for a protected second-round pick after waiving Marcus Thornton, who was part of the Bogdanovic deal, to create roster space.
The deal for McDaniels, who is averaging 2.8 points in 7.3 minutes per game this season, was not official when Marks spoke to the media after practice on Thursday, so he was unable to comment on that (it became official later Thursday). But Marks obviously bettered the Nets’ draft position in a year when their own first-round pick, which is assured of being in the top four, belongs to Boston. At the moment, the Nets — who have the Celtics’ pick — would have the 24th and 26th picks in the first round.
Discussing the value added by the pick obtained from Washington for Bogdanovic, Marks said, “Obviously, we value the draft, otherwise we wouldn’t have done it. But it’s about being strategic. Having two picks now gives you some opportunity whether you can move up with those picks or you can hold them where you are if your players are there at the time, or you can use players and picks. There’s a lot of different things we can do there. We like the draft, so we’ll see where we go.”
Asked if it was important to see a larger sample size from Lopez with Lin if no one was going to meet his reported asking price of two first-round picks for Lopez, Marks said, “Well, I don’t even want to comment on trades that could’ve or didn’t happen or weren’t offered or any of that stuff, so I’m not going to even speculate. But you’re absolutely right. To have a healthy Jeremy and a healthy Brook out there together with this team, it’ll be nice to evaluate that.
“It’s something we started the season off with, and unfortunately, we only got a handful of games under our belt seeing that. So this will be nice. We all know what those two bring to the table. They lift everybody else’s play. I think not only for myself and my staff and Kenny and his staff, it’s also from the players. I think they’re excited about what they see with Brook and Jeremy out there.”
Coach Kenny Atkinson thanked Bogdanovic for his contribution but was thrilled by the prospect of having another first-round pick in June. “The Nets adding a first-round pick, it’s not easy,” Atkinson said. “Those picks aren’t easy to get. It excites me.”
Atkinson also was pleased by the addition of Nicholson, who can play power forward or center and can offer some shot-blocking protection. “We’re excited about Andrew,” Atkinson said after watching him practice on Thursday. “He’ll bring some rebounding. He’s shown the ability to shoot the ball from three-point range, and we also realize he can score in the post, too. He’s another guy we’re looking to develop and looking to improve. So we’re excited about having him.”