Time to rebuild? Networks on the verge of hitting crunch time for the organization’s future

In the next two weeks, the Nets season is likely to be made or lost. Among the opponents: the Grizzlies, the 76erthe Raptors, the Blazers again and the Celts. They have five games in seven days that state Sunday. With a 7-9 record, Brooklyn needs a breakout. Unless…

“With Kyrie Irving returning on Sunday against Memphis and Brooklyn, I think the clock is really starting for this Nets organization as to whether they can hold this group together.” Adrian Wojnarowski said on ESPN Friday. “What the rest of the league is seeing is how long it’ll be before Kevin Durant maybe asks in Brooklyn again.”

Woj isn’t the first to suggest time is of the essence for Brooklyn. A week ago, his colleague Brian Windhorst suggested the same. “I want to make it clear that this is just something that league executives talk about, and honestly that Brooklyn Networks‘ The front office needs to seriously think about it. And that would be a potentially nuclear option to blast that roster this season.”

Thursday’s big win over the Western Conference leaders in Portland made fans forget about the 153-121 drubbing by hands Sacramento Kings two days earlier. But the Nets roster was built — and paid for — to be a championship contender, not a sixth seed or play-in contender like last season.

Indeed, The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer and John Hollinger wrote on Friday in a more detailed article that they, too, think the Nets will soon have to decide which direction the organization should take: they remain in their belief that the roster is a championship contender or, in a word, being rebuilt.

For the writers of The Athletic, the latter option seems closer to reality. You are pessimistic. The decisions for Sean Marks and Joe Tsai will continue to pile up until the February 8th tradeline. For Schiffer and Hollinger, the big win in Portland and Irving’s return, expected on Sunday against the Grizzlies at the Barclays Center, are unlikely to change things much. The two write:

Despite the win and Irving’s imminent return, some of the team’s shortcomings, either in depth or in depth, have been uncovered over the course of the journey and there are limited opportunities to improve the roster. In a way, the Nets are in something of an NBA purgatory as they don’t appear anywhere near competitive but don’t have the draft capital to come. Was Thursday a turning point in the season or an outlier?

Hollinger, who spent some time in the Memphis Grizzlies The front office is pessimistic about the Nets’ future, suggesting that Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons are 1) likely to leave after this season and 2) likely not to fulfill his contract, which runs for three years including this one.

The Nets have two top players, one (Irving) they can’t rely on and might not even want to come back, and the other (Simmons) is basically a defensive specialist off the bench at this point, even if he’s healthy. because he is so allergic to shooting. The Nets are one of the most expensive teams in the league, so going over to .500 while Irving and Simmons give them near-zero on max deals wasn’t the plan here.

Tanking isn’t in play, not when they owe Houston their next five drafts, but it’s hard to look forward to a future after this season given Durant’s age, Simmons’ boat anchor of a contract and Irving’s likely departure.

As Schiffer asked, “Was this disaster enough where you’ve seen enough and started discussing ways to blow this up right and get every last asset at the yard sale once the trading options expand in December?”

In this case, more time means more information. We’ve only seen a few Nets games under Vaughn, and Irving was in the lineup for zero of them. I’ll believe Warren is capable of playing when I see it, but of course putting him on the ground would also add additional information. Perhaps Simmons can get going, Curry can unleash more attacks as the minutes go by, and Harris can use his Virginia scholarship to spread knowledge throughout the organization.

Even then, I doubt this team is a contender, which means the other elephant in the room comes up: The Nets have a $34 million tax tie, which would earn the league a nine-figure payment if they don’t lose some payroll . Deals with either team below the cap (Indiana and Saint Anthony) salary (Harris or Patty Mills, for example) would save the networks tens of millions of dollars. Terminating Irving’s expiring contract and rescinding a lower pay number would have similar implications.

And if someone calls to pick up the remaining $115 million of Simmons’ contract, the Nets have an Uber on standby to take them to the airport.

In fact, much of Hollinger’s analysis revolves around money and saving wages and luxury taxes for a remodel. If the Nets don’t take action, they’ll pay replay tax on their payroll next season. For example, Hollinger notes that if the Nets could get the right deal for Irving, the team could save $25 million.

Things get more complicated when trading Durant. Durant has commercial value, but like this summer, the same issues remain. KD has a four year contract including this year which is good from one point of view but bad from another that he will be 38 years old when the contract ends. Hollinger says the smart move is to move him by deadline and not wait for the offseason.

The big risk of waiting until the Nets’ offseason is that Durant could get injured in the meantime, and he’s certainly getting older. Durant’s value is probably greatest at the upcoming trade deadline, where a competitor could pocket him right away and score four playoff runs instead of the three they would get if they took him on this summer.

The looming problem for the Nets is that they also owe their next four drafts to Houston and have an aging Durant and a lot of meh on the roster beyond this season. If this is a losing season anyway, maxing out her Durant trade value and reaping a big draft pick might be the best fallback position.

Trading partner for KD? Hollinger lists all the players offered for Durant last summer and adds the Hawks. Hollinger suggests and Schiffer agrees that a deal centered on Durant and Seth Curry for Dejounte Murray and John Collins and some picks could be an ideal swap.

Don’t expect any big decisions in the next few months. Not only have the Nets had a tough schedule, but a third of the NBA roster is ineligible for trading through Dec. 15. To do anything before that is unlikely. Any large trade would be complicated, the more pieces available the more likely a deal can be struck. Then there are seven weeks until the close of trading. As Hollinger says, more time means more information, but crunch time has come for the team and organization.

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