As the NBA offseason transitions out of the free agency period and inches toward the opening of team training camps, front offices are focused on rounding out their rosters. While the remaining free agents left are not as attractive as the big-name players and are considered the bottom of the barrel, they are often the players who can be the difference makers in whether a team wins a championship. The contributions of players such as Al Horford, Kevon Looney, and Gary Payton II in last year’s NBA Finals cannot be overstated.
The Brooklyn Nets roster is nearly complete as general manager Sean Marks deserves his flowers for making key moves this offseason such as trading for Royce O’Neale and inking TJ Warren and Markieff Morris to free agent deals, all while dealing with the Kevin Durant trade saga.
Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News notes that the one thing the Nets are devoid of is a backup point guard to relieve Kyrie Irving. Winfield believes that former NBA All-Defensive First Team guard Eric Bledsoe could be a candidate to fill that role.
“Eric Bledsoe, Elfrid Payton, and Durant’s former Texas Longhorn teammate DJ Augustin as backup point guard options available on the free agent market. Any one of them could sign for the minimum in Brooklyn,” Winfield writes.
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Off-the-Court Issues Could Stop Nets From Signing Rondo
While Bledsoe, along with Payton and Augustin, could be viable options to fill the backup point guard role for the Nets, they are not necessarily the best options. Winfield notes that the “perfect” fit to fill the backup role for Brooklyn would be Rajon Rondo.
Rondo has championship experience, winning two titles in his career thus far. Most recently with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, where he served as a backup point guard to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. But Winfield notes that because of the off-the-court issues that Rondo is currently dealing with, teams may be reluctant to sign him.
“Rajon Rondo might have been the perfect fit in Brooklyn had he not become radioactive after allegedly pointing a gun at and threatening to kill the mother of his children. The case was dismissed after he and the woman “reached an agreement,” according to TMZ,” Winfield writes.
“However, it may be some time before a team is comfortable signing him to a deal.”
Nets Urged To Get Bigger in the Front Court
The Nets recently bolstered their frontcourt with the signing of Markieff Morris, who was also on the Lakers 2020 championship team. But Morris is undersized for his position at 6’9, and Brooklyn remains at a size disadvantage with 6’11 Nicolas Claxton being their tallest big man. Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant are both 6’10, but essentially play the guard position.
The size disadvantage won’t be a major factor for Brooklyn as they have grown accustomed to playing small ball, But it will be a factor when they go up against bigger teams, as seen in their first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics in last year’s playoffs.
Thus, they’ll need to get bigger if they hope to be title contenders this season. DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard highlight Winfield’s list of free agent big men that the Nets should target.
“Against teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat – the teams that will stand in way of getting to the NBA Finals – the Nets are going to need a big man that can not only stand his ground against bruisers but also crash the boards: an area the Nets struggled mightily last season,” Winfield adds.
“That can occur via trade if the Nets are willing to part ways with the assets needed to pry Myles Turner from the Indiana Pacers. DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, Tristan Thompson, and Hassan Whiteside are also available as veteran free agents.”
As the opening date for NBA training camps draws nearer, it will be interesting to see how the Nets fill out their roster.