The Brooklyn Nets are expected to go big-game hunting this offseason and could have a specific target – or targets – in mind.
“They’ll be looking for a scorer, a true No. 1 option,” one Eastern Conference GM told Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney. “We’ll have to see who becomes available but they will get in the mix…Pascal Siakam, they would have to have interest there.”
General manager Sean Marks pumped the breaks on pursuing a star. But Brooklyn’s interest in Siakam dates back to at least this past trade deadline. Amid the scramble of trying to replace Kyrie Irving and appease Kevin Durant, rumors emerged the Nets had engaged in trade talks with the Toronto Raptors. Additionally, Marc Stein of The Stein Line reported that the Nets were a team to keep an eye on for Siakam
He was a potential trade candidate this past season, per Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report.
The 6-foot-9 forward is coming off the second All-Star appearance this past season after averaging career highs with 24.2 points and 5.8 assists adding 7.8 rebounds.
Rival GM Pours Cold Water on Damian Lillard Rumors
“If it is [Portland Trail Blazers star Damian] Lillard. … Portland will have better offers in a trade if they go that route,” the GM said. “Now, if Dame goes to them and wants to go to the Nets, that might change things. But other teams can outbid Brooklyn with the pieces they have.”
Rumors of Lillard potentially requesting a trade from the Blazers and landing with the Nets have gained steam separately only to converge following a recent appearance at the Nets’ Game 3 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers at the Barclays Center. He is also close with and a big fan of Nets forwards Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.
But the Bleacher Report NBA insider Chris Haynes offered up another reality check for fans that are holding hope that a deal for Lillard will come down the pipeline.
“He told me he went there for some meetings, and he went there for some musical project he’s working on,” Haynes said on the ‘#thisleague UNCUT’ podcast on April 24. “Also, Mikal Bridges, that’s a really good friend of his. And he said he went out there to support him. And this was his first NBA game attending as a professional player.”
Lillard, 32, is owed over $216 million over the next four years. The Nets might need to get their own house in order before trying to raid another organization anyway.
Nets First Order of Business: Get Ben Simmons Healthy
“They’re not going to get that level of player with just picks, without giving up talent,” the GM tells Deveney. “They need to get somebody to believe that Ben Simmons can still be a star. That’s not going to be easy, you know.”
Simmons has been out since the All-Star break, getting shut down for the season on March 28 after dealing with inflammation in his surgically repaired back.
The timeline for his particular procedure is 18 months.
Simmons – a lightning rod for criticism for myriad reasons – tried to return to the floor less than one year later. He has gotten numerous votes of support, perhaps none more notable than from Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. who related Simmons’ recovery to his lengthy return to action calling for patience in the process.
Still, the Raptors could be the team willing and able to take on such a massive gamble both on the court and on the books.
“The Raptors had interest in Simmons in 2021 when the 76ers were shopping him,” wrote Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. “Though Scottie Barnes’s emergence would make Simmons a strange fit as they’re both non-shooters, he does count as a buy-low, high-value target who could restore his career in time.”
Simmons is still owed $78 million over the final two seasons of his five-year, $177 million contract. He averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in 42 appearances in 2022-23 after sitting out the entirety of the 2021-22 season.