Nets free agents, goals and draft needs in 2022 after NBA playoff loss | Launderer’s report

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    This season has been championship or fail for the Brooklyn Nets, so it’s time to officially declare it a fail.

    Brooklyn’s title hopes came to an abrupt end on Monday when the Boston Celtics ended their four-game sweep with a 116-112 victory in Game 4.

    The campaign began with the dreams of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden dominating the league en route to the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Those plans quickly went awry when Irving was deemed ineligible for home games because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19, and Durant and Harden both missed time with injuries.

    As the rules changed and allowed Irving to play in home games before the playoffs arrived, the Nets eventually traded Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in a move that brought them Seth Curry and Ben Simmons.

    However, Simmons did not make an appearance for the entire regular season, and his availability was a interrogation point at best going into the playoffs because of a lingering back injury. He ultimately didn’t play on the Boston series at all, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that Simmons and Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with the team to discuss the “physical and mental hurdles remaining in pursuit of All-Stars return to play. »

    Attention now turns to the offseason, and the bigger question is whether Irving will exercise his possibility of player for 2022-23 and stay with the team, sign a long-term extension or perhaps look elsewhere as he chases the second championship of his career.

    Here’s a look at the big picture for the Nets as they look to put their failures in 2021-22 in the rearview mirror and focus on building the next championship club.

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Unrestricted Free Agents

    Bruce Brown

    The Marcus Aldridge

    Blake Griffin

    André Drummond

    Goran Dragic

    Restricted Free Agents

    Nic Claxton

    David Duke Jr.

    *Free agents courtesy of Spotrac.

    A look at Brooklyn’s free agent roster gives a pretty clear picture of what he was trying to accomplish this season. He opted to surround Durant, Irving and Harden — before he was traded — with big-name veterans with playoff experience as the team chased a title.

    Some of them, like Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, were stars in their own right during their primes, but the formula didn’t end with the coveted title.

    None of Brooklyn’s free agents are thinking of making massive deals on the open market, so the team might be looking to bring some in for the right price. The price will be decisive because spotrac predicts the Nets will have a total salary cap of $186.4 million, which is the sixth highest in the league.

    Bringing back too many of these players could limit the Nets’ flexibility to look elsewhere as they try to improve their team.

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Assuming Irving chooses to stay with the Nets– as he did suggests in the pastthe Nets have quite the selling point for potential free agents.

    Anyone who signs with the team will already be onto a championship contender thanks to the mere presence of Durant and Irving. If Simmons can return to the form that helped him make three All-Star Games as a member of the 76ers, it won’t take a star-studded supporting cast to compete for a championship.

    This type of situation and the resulting space for open shots it creates will surely be intriguing for free agents this offseason, but the Nets’ lack of payroll flexibility could limit their overall options.

    They are unlikely to be able to offer the biggest deal for a potential signing and will instead have to rely on discounted players to compete for the Championships alongside some of the league’s biggest stars.

    Brooklyn needs rim protection on the inside to relieve some of the defensive pressure from Irving and Durant and more athletic wings that provide extra length and physicality on defense. Defense has been an issue throughout the campaign, and re-signing Andre Drummond would be an ideal starting point.

    The 28-year-old established himself as a double-double threat every time he stepped on the floor for the Nets after joining the deal that included Harden and Simmons, and having a full season under his belt could help him become equal. more productive.

    Elsewhere, restricted free agent Miles Bridges would be a perfect fit as someone who has the defensive versatility to defend multiple positions and the ability to score 20+ points every night.

    Still, his price will surely be too high if he even leaves the Charlotte Hornets.

    Maybe the Nets can look to make a trade for someone like Indiana Pacers big man Myles Turner, which could help them control and match salaries depending on who’s involved.

    Still, significantly improving the team with outside help seems like a bit long at this point.

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Launderer’s report Jonathan Wasserman projected the Nets to select Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. in a fake March draft, and that pick would make a lot of sense.

    After all, the 20-year-old is someone who could defend multiple positions with the type of physique the Nets need at this end of the field. The ACC All-Defense selection took some of the pressure off of Duke teammate Paolo Banchero for that purpose, which is exactly what he could do for Irving or Durant in the pro ranks.

    Moore still needs work as an offensive playmaker, but he punched 41.3% of his triples in his last season with the Blue Devils and can take advantage of any double teams that Durant presents himself with.

    Auburn’s Walker Kessler is another option.

    The big man, 20, won Naismith Defensive Player of the Year as a dominant rim protector and double-dual threat, which would fit well with Brooklyn’s rotation.

    Kessler would also be a potential replacement for Drummond if Brooklyn chooses not to re-sign the latter.

Christy J. Olson