When general manager Sean Marks began his rebuilding project last year, the Nets were viewed by the top free agents as a last resort rather than a destination resort. But even though they had the NBA’s worst record last season, Jeremy Lin recently told Newsday multiple free agents have asked him about joining the Nets — “players that are really good players who are interested in coming,” Lin said.
It doesn’t guarantee a thing, but Marks said the sentiment expressed by Lin bodes well for the Nets when the free agent negotiating period opens Saturday morning. “I think that’s terrific,” Marks said recently. “What we’ve started to build, the culture is getting there . . . and the players are going to be the best proponent of spreading that.
“They’re going to talk to their peers on other teams and say, ‘This is the way Kenny [Atkinson] coaches, the practices, the performance team, this is the player care that’s given in the Brooklyn Nets model.’ So that’s important to us. Whether we take advantage of that this year or not that’s yet to be seen.”
When the Nets traded Brook Lopez to the Lakers for guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov, it dramatically reduced the need for point guard help because Russell will team with Lin in the backcourt, and either one can initiate the offense. Mozgov can replace Lopez at center, but he lacks the three-point range Lopez developed last season.
So it’s possible the Nets will try to land a big man who is effective from three-point range. “We’ve never looked at it like we have to have this particular position,” Marks said. “I think we’re still trying to get ‘best available’ talent acquisition. You know how we value shooting, so, if we can get a shooting big [man], terrific. But we’ve got guys now on our roster that can shoot from outside.”
The decision to trade Bojan Bogdanovic for the No. 22 overall pick that was used to draft center Jarrett Allen cost the Nets one of their most effective three-point shooters, so expect them to target one in free agency. According to multiple published reports, unrestricted veteran shooting guard J.J. Redick, who owns a luxury apartment in Brooklyn and has indicated to the Clippers that he will not re-sign, has serious interest in the Nets and Sixers.
The Nets also are believed to have strong interest in restricted free agent small forwards Otto Porter Jr. of Washington and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Detroit. But the problem is the same as the Nets faced last summer when their offers to Miami’s Tyler Johnson and Portland’s Allen Crabbe were accepted but then matched by their teams.
“We’ll see what happens, whether its restricted free agency or free agency or capitalizing on some other trades that come up,” Marks said. “We’re focused on all of those things; we’re not going to limit ourselves to just one.”
Marks would like to balance a young roster with a veteran presence. Some reports have tied Warriors free-agent forward Andre Iguodala to the Nets, but he will have many suitors. Two other sensible targets might be Hawks unrestricted forwards Paul Millsap, who has been linked strongly to the Nuggets, or Ersan Ilyasova. If the perception of the Nets has improved around the league, as Lin believes, maybe they can make a splash.
Notes & quotes: The Nets confirmed they picked up options on veteran guards Sean Kilpatrick and Joe Harris.