The Nets’ former second-round pick helped the Sacramento Kings secure a 101-96 victory.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game ever since I got traded,” Edwards told reporters in a video posted to the Kings’ YouTube channel on March 16. “So the fact I was able to come back here, get significant minutes, finish the game out with a win, probably one of the funnest games of my career. So it felt good.”
Brooklyn traded Edwards to Sacramento on February 7 – one day after Kyrie Irving was shipped to the Dallas Mavericks and one day before Kevin Durant requested and received a trade to the Phoenix Suns – for the rights to French guard David Michineau and cash considerations.
He finished the win over his former team with 10 points, three rebounds, and one assist in 23 minutes of action.
Edwards – the 44th overall pick in 2021 – has recorded just two double-digit scoring outings this season. Both have come with the Kings in a telling example of why he was anxious to exact a little revenge.
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds while knocking down 35.3% of his looks from beyond the arc in over 20 minutes per game with Brooklyn last season appearing in 48 games and starting 23. Since being traded, he has averaged 3.6 points and 2.4 boards in just over 14 minutes per game.
This was the third-most minutes Edwards has seen this season.
The Kessler Edwards Trade was Financially Motivated
“The Nets reduce their luxury tax penalty by $7M from offloading Kessler Edwards. They generate a $1.6M trade exception and now have an open roster spot,” tweeted Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype on the day of the deal adding in a subsequent tweet that Edwards “has veto rights on any trade this season since he re-signed with the Nets last offseason for only one guaranteed season. By accepting this trade, Edwards’ Early Bird rights will be reduced to Non-Bird, limiting what the Kings could re-sign him to this summer.”
In some ways, Brooklyn did Edwards a favor. He lands with a higher-seeded team and is logging more minutes which should help rebuild any value he may have lost over the start of the season with the Nets. He will turn just 23 years old in August so some teams will likely see a worthwhile project at the right cost.
Whether or not that team will be the Kings is something to keep an eye on.
From the Nets’ standpoint, shaving some money off of their luxury tax bill made all the sense in the world to avoid the repeater tax next season, especially without Durant or Irving to bolster the title hopes that usually justify such exorbitant spending.
Brooklyn is currently slated to be more than $16 million below the luxury tax threshold next season, per Spotrac.
But they are set to have to open up the checkbook for Cameron Johnson who is hitting restricted free agency and has already turned down an offer from the Phoenix Suns of $72 million over four years. He could command a dollar amount approaching or even exceeding $20 million annually which would be more than teammate Mikal Bridges (four years, $90 million).
Timing is Everything
Edwards certainly caught the Nets at the right time, they had lost two of their previous four games and have openly discussed the challenges of learning new teammates and schemes since the trade deadline brought in 80% of the current starting lineup.
Ironically, Edwards is the kind of player the Nets could use as they continue their transition into their next iteration.
Beyond Johnson, the Nets have to decide what they want to do with a pair of soon-to-be 30-year-olds in Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith and determine if Bridges is as true of a building block as he appears to be. There is plenty on general manager Sean Marks’ plate this summer.