Nets Fill Important Hole in Offseason Deal For 29-Year-Old Forward

Royce O'Neale

Getty Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert #27 celebrates with Royce O'Neale #23

The Brooklyn Nets received unwanted news ahead of the NBA free agency window opening. Kevin Durant spoke with Nets owner Joe Tsai and demanded a trade ahead of free agency opening on June 30. Following the Durant news the other domino fell with the report that it is very likely that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have played their last game in a Nets uniform. 

Speaking on NBA Today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski delivered the disheartening news. 

“Very much everybody is in play in Brooklyn, certainly, and I think it’s very likely that not only Kevin Durant, but Kyrie Irving have their played their last games for the Nets,” he reported on NBA Today.

The Durant and Irving news isn’t the only news for the Nets. Shortly after the Durant trade request was announced, it was reported that Brooklyn had acquired Utah Jazz swingman Royce O’Neale. 

Brooklyn Nets Fill Important Hole with Royce O’Neale

Not long after Durant’s trade request was announced, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on a trade the Nets had completed. 

“Utah is trading Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn for a first-round pick, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium,” Charania tweeted

The Nets will use their trade exception to acquire O’Neale. The trade is a little surprising after the Durant news. O’Neale is an excellent defender and could have been an important piece on an Irving and Durant-led Nets team. However, with all signs pointing to a Nets rebuild the deal is certainly surprising. 

The forward shot over 38% from deep with the Jazz and averaged 7.4 points and nearly 5 rebounds per game as a starter in Utah. He can guard multiple positions and is often matched up against the opposing team’s best player. 

The move answers a glaring need for Brooklyn, who had a major weakness this postseason with a lack of forwards and defense. Aside from Nic Claxton, the Nets didn’t have another forward to rely on in their playoff rotation after waiving veteran James Johnson ahead of the playoffs, a move that drew criticism

O’Neale would have been a flexible piece to a contending Nets team, but now with both Nets stars expected to leave it’s unknown how he fits into a team potentially led by Ben Simmons. 

Other Nets Free Agent News

So far the Nets have been active in their free agent negotiations. They have already agreed to terms with Patty Mills who exercised his player option on June 29, and the two agreed to terms to bring him back for two more years. 

“Free agent G Patty Mills has agreed to return to the Brooklyn Nets on a two-year, $14.5M deal, his agent Steven Heumann of @CAA_Basketball tells ESPN,” Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted

They also were able to bring back their young big man Nic Claxton. “Restricted free agent C Nic Claxton has agreed on a two-year, $20 million deal to return to the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell ESPN,” Wojnarowski also reported

Now most of the Nets news may revolve around the imminent trade discussions with Kevin Durant and what happens there. It is hard to build a team around a roster that is now buried in uncertainty. 

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