The Brooklyn Nets (30-19) are all set to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the second and final meeting between the two teams this season barring a showdown in the NBA Finals. It’s a topic that injured Nets star Kevin Durant has lamented having to miss with a sprained MCL but, fortunately for him, he is not missing much.
Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James – the latter of whom Durant specifically said he wished he could faceoff against – are both set to miss the matchup.
Durant and James have not played against each other since 2018.
Brooklyn will still have Kyrie Irving for the tilt and could get Ben Simmons back too. But the bigger piece of business for the Nets could be some scouting with just 11 days until February 9 and the NBA’s trade deadline.
Damian Jones a Potential Option For Nets
“One guy I would definitely track is Damian Jones of the Lakers,” writes John Hollinger of The Athletic who notes that Jones has “fallen completely out of their rotation but had a good year in Sacramento last season and still should theoretically be in the prime of his career.”
Hollinger suggests he should be an option in the even he is bought out of his current contract.
Jones, 27, is averaging just 2.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in slightly over eight minutes per game for the 13th-seeded Lakers.
He has been buried behind starter Thomas Bryant and with Davis playing more center this year.
But, to Hollinger’s point about Jones’ ability, the 6-foot-11 big man averaged 8.4 points, 4.4 boards, and 1.2 assists in 2022 for the Sacramento Kings. He signed with the Lakers this past offseason inking a two-year, $4.9 million contract before Bryant ultimately signed his one-year, $2 million deal with L.A. just five days later.
“I like the Damian Jones idea,” said Alex Schiffer, Hollinger’s colleague and co-author on the piece assessing the current state of the Nets. “He’s an intriguing option and a [Nets general manager] Sean Marks kind of signing.”
Marks has already hit with one value signing in forward T.J. Warren who is averaging 9.3 points on 56.4% true shooting on a one-year, $2.6 million pact.
They have also gotten good mileage out of Edmond Sumner.
Jones would certainly be in that mold while slotting in behind breakout star big man Nic Claxton who, for his part, thinks the Nets are good as is.
Nets Future Up In The Air
Being creative around the margins is a necessity when your top three players combine to account for $117 million of the salary cap per year. And while a debate over the efficacy of one of those stars – Simmons – the more pressing issue is Marks’ uncertain status.
“Sean does not know if he will be back, Kyrie does not know if he will be back, they have no idea whether KD is going to want out again,” a league source tells Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney. “The fact is, they’re as up in the air as much as any franchise in the league at this point.”
The Nets had orchestrated one of the more impressive mid-season turnarounds in recent memory before Durant’s injury competing with that of the Boston Celtics from last season.
But they need to make a deep playoff run for it to count.
How much else about the Nets’ future depends on that happening remains to be seen and what they do at the deadline could go a long way to shedding some light on the situation.