Nets Expected to Re-sign Breakout Player for 2023 Season: Report

patty mills signing brooklyn nets

Getty Patty Mills (L) high-fives Bruce Brown (R).

Though it is never optimal for teams to part with their star player, one of the benefits of doing so is that players who have previously struggled may begin to pick up their level of play. That theory certainly applied to Brooklyn Nets forward Bruce Brown. After the Nets completed a blockbuster trade on February 10 that sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, and Seth Curry, Brown’s level of play expanded exponentially. Per Stat Muse, Brown averaged 13.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 27 games for the Nets during that span. Alex Schiffer of “The Athletic”, expects the Nets breakout star to be back with the team next season.

“Brown once again proved to be a crucial piece for the Nets rotation after starting the season on the bench. A year ago, with James Harden, he was a short-rolling wonder. This season, he became a do-it-all guard and had a career year from 3. Brown is one of the few two-way players on the Nets roster and is due for a raise after having to opt into his $4.7 million qualifying offer,” Schiffer writes for “The Athletic.”

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Having Brown’s Bird Rights Gives Nets Leverage to Re-sign Him

Brown’s level of elevated play did not stop once the Nets made it to the postseason. Per Stat Muse, Brown averaged 14.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the first round of the playoffs. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and is likely to gauge the interest of several teams with his breakout second half of the season. The Nets don’t have a lot of cap flexibility to work with during the offseason. But Schiffer notes that the Nets having Brown’s Bird rights gives them more leverage in their mission to re-sign him.

“Maybe his best trait is his availability having played in 137 regular-season games the past two seasons. His college coaches always thought he’d be a better fit on a winning team and it’s feasible to see other contenders pursuing him.,” Schiffer writes.

“But are the mid-level or taxpayers’ exceptions enough of a raise for Brown or will he command more? If the Nets can keep Brown for $10 million or less, it’s a no-brainer. He’s said he wants to stay in Brooklyn, but will another team fall in love with him and outbid the Nets? Having Browns’ Bird Rights really helps Marks here.”

Schiffer Doesn’t Expect Aldridge to Return to Nets

Brown is just one of several pending Nets free agents. After retiring abruptly in the middle of the 2021 season because of a heart condition, most people believed that Nets big man LaMarcus Aldridge was done for good. But he surprised everyone during his NBA comeback with the Nets. Schiffer notes that Aldridge put up solid numbers for Brooklyn averaging 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game per  contest. However, he only played 47 games for Brooklyn this season and fell out of head coach Steve Nash’s rotation toward the end of the regular season. In a season that is viewed as championship or bust for the Nets, the defense will once again be a focal point for them this offseason. Schiffer does not expect Aldridge to re-sign with the Nets this offseason.

“Aldridge turns 37 this summer and has shown he can still contribute offensively when healthy. Defense is a different story. Part of the Nets’ frontcourt problems was they had five centers who could all contribute, but none could do it all. It’s hard to see Marks forming the frontcourt before getting a verdict on Claxton,” Schiffer writes.

“Given his medical history and age, it’s fair to wonder if Aldridge retires, but his production suggests he could work in a limited role for a contender. Aldridge came to Brooklyn to win and it’s hard to see him staying in the league to play for a non-playoff team.”

Bruce Brown was one of the few bright spots in a roller-coaster season for the Nets. If the Nets can bring him back in 2023 with the looming returns of Ben Simmons and Joe Harris, they could be one of the more formidable rosters in the Eastern Conference.

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