While the question of what to do about Kyrie Irving makes every other decision the Nets face pale in comparison, it’s not the only thing general manager Sean Marks has on his mind.
The Nets are entering Thursday night’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center without a single pick in either round, thanks to their decision to defer the first-round draft pick they obtained from the 76ers in the James Harden trade this season.
Still, the team, which gave away its own first-rounder to Houston when they obtained Harden in the middle of the 2020-21 season, has been working out dozens of draft prospects over the past couple weeks. And, if Marks’ track record is any indication, fans can expect some kind of change — or at least a tweak — to the roster over the next couple of days.
Marks has made a move within 48 hours of the draft in every year since he took over the team in 2016. Last season, for example, they traded Landry Shamet to the Clippers for Jevon Carter and the No. 29 pick two hours before the draft started. That deal gave them two late first-round picks, which they used to take Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe.
“We don’t have a pick right now, [so] we are not going to spend a lot of time at the top of the draft right now,” Nets assistant general manager Jeff Peterson said last week on Chris Carrino’s “Voice of the Nets” podcast. “We have to be prepared now. Come draft night, we could get a call from a team that wants to trade us the 15th pick, so we have to be prepared.”
This year’s draft isn’t considered strong, which is a major reason why the Nets decided to defer the pick from the 76ers. The deferral also gives them a valuable asset to package in some kind of deal either on draft night or down the road.
Of course, this all takes a back seat to contract talks with Irving. The Nets point guard, who played in only 29 games last season mostly because of his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccination, is reportedly threatening to test the free-agent waters. Irving has until June 29 to make a decision on his player option.