The Nets were knocked out of the 2021 postseason much earlier than expected, their second-round exit largely a disappointment considering the talent on their roster. The challenge now is how to ensure that doesn’t happen again next year.
The responsibility lies on the shoulder of Sean Marks, the Brooklyn general manager who in June suggested the 2021-22 Nets will look much different than this past year’s version of the team.
Aside from the top of the roster, of course.
Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving are locked in as the Nets’ Big Three. But beyond them, essentially everyone is expendable to varying degrees — especially one big man who was relegated to the bench during Brooklyn’s playoff run.
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Analyst Says DeAndre Jordan Is Nets’ Most Likely Trade Asset
DeAndre Jordan was the NBA leading rebounder in 2014 and 2015, an All-Defense First Team selection in 2015 and 2016, and an All-Star in 2017. But these days, the 32-year-old is a shadow of the dominant inside presence he was when he was racking up all of those accolades.
In fact, Nets coach Steve Nash had Jordan riding the bench during the postseason. Jordan, clearly several steps slower than he was in his heyday, had become too much of a liability when he was on the floor.
For those reasons, NBA writer Grant Hughes labeled Jordan as Brooklyn’s player who is most likely to be traded this summer.
Hughes elabores more in his piece for Bleacher Report:
DeAndre Jordan’s zero postseason minutes illustrate the limits of Brooklyn’s roster-building privilege. His immobility and lack of offensive stretch rendered him unusable in the 2021 postseason—no shock after he posted, by far, the worst on-off splits of any Nets rotation player during the year.
For a title-hunting Nets team that should only care about its playoff makeup, paying $9.8 million for an unplayable center (with gobs of additional luxury-tax penalties piled on top) doesn’t make sense.
Spencer Dinwiddie is a sign-and-trade candidate, and the Nets could shuffle up the back end of their rotation by moving lower-salaried players. But Jordan, despite his close relationship with Durant and Irving, is the guy Brooklyn has to look hardest at moving.
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Jordan Struggled in 2020-21
Before Nash moved him out of the rotation, Jordan occasionally would show a sign of what made him such an imposing big man earlier in his career — but those instances were few and far between. He averaged 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 57 games, his lowest averages in each respective category in nearly a decade.
His energy dipped at times, too.
Early this season, in a game against the Detroit Pistons on February 9, Jordan appeared to just give up playing defense in the middle of a play.
During a timeout shortly thereafter, YES Network cameras caught Harden’s frustration with Jordan. Harden was seen voicing that frustration by confronting Jordan about his defense during a timeout.
The next day, after the Nets rebounded from the Pistons loss with a win over the Indiana Pacers, Nash said he and DeAndre Jordan also shared some heated exchanges in Detroit, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Jordan responded with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three locks — and Nash praised the way the veteran center bounced back, per Lewis.