How the Nets proceed over the next few weeks will be immensely impactful on what transpires about a year from now, when they hope to be vying for the 2021-22 NBA championship.
In that way, a ton rests on the shoulders of Sean Marks.
So it was no surprise to hear the Brooklyn general manager be forthcoming ahead of what promises to be a busy offseason.
“Inevitably, there’s going to be change, here,” Marks said in June, per SNY. “That’s the tough thing with pro sports. You love continuity throughout and so forth, but there’s going to have to be changes. They may not all be because of the decisions that we decide to make. Our players have to make these decisions too. We have multiple players that whether it’s options on their contract, their free-agent status is up, and so forth.”
Yes, the Nets have their Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving locked up for next season. But beyond that trio, there are questions galore concerning the other assets on their roster.
Two of those assets are in line for big paydays — although the actual size of those paydays might come as a surprise to some.
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NBA Analyst Sees Bruce Brown Cashing In
Bruce Brown averaged 8.8 points (on 55.6 percent shooting), 1.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 65 games last season for the Nets.
Those are solid numbers for a guard off the bench that, in the eyes of one prominent NBA analyst, should help net the 24-year-old a sizable pay raise as he hits free agency this offseason.
John Hollinger, a senior NBA columnist for the Athletic and the former vice president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, broke out a tool he developed called BORD$ (Big Ol’ Rating Dollars) to determine the worth of Brown and other free agents for the upcoming season. The tool’s goal: to “spit out a number that projects [that player’s] dollar value for the coming season.” Hollinger said he bases the tool on two variables: “the expected quality of the players’ minutes, and how many minutes we’d expect the player to play on an average team.”
And that’s how Hollinger arrived at valuing Brown at $14,846,832 for the 2021-22 season. On a list where Hollinger offers the dollar value for the 20 most valuable free agents, Brown came in at No. 14.
In his piece for The Athletic, Hollinger admits his valuation here is high:
This is probably on the high side of valuations for Brown given that he’ll likely never be a knockdown shooter and his funky mix of skills might not work for some rosters. Fortunately for the Nets, that likely also will prevent a distasteful offer sheet coming their way, which is important given that the Nets will be tens of millions into the luxury tax and pay a huge premium on any dollars given to Brown.
History tells us that teams pay for offense but not players like Brown, so I’m guessing he gets quite a bit less than this. Any offer sheet for the midlevel exception or less should be a no-brainer for the Nets to match; the question is whether they can stomach the tax implications. As the roster currently stands, a $10 million salary for Brown this year would cost the Nets $50 million with the tax.
But perhaps even more eyebrow-raising than what Hollinger projects for Brown is what he projects for Spencer Dinwiddie.
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Hollinger Sees Brown Earning More Than Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie is one season removed from 20.6 points and 6.8 assists on a nightly basis for the Nets, a stat combination that is hard to come by in the NBA. That has compelled Dinwiddie to turn down his $12.3 million player option for this upcoming season and put a hefty price tag on himself.
Hollinger, though, thinks the 28-year-old’s two past ACL injuries, including one that kept him out the majority of this past season, are significant factors that will help dictate what he ultimately fetches on the open market.
On his list of 20 free agents, Hollinger has Dinwiddie at No. 18 with a $13,076,247 valuation this upcoming season.
Hollinger explains more in his article for The Athletic:
Spencer Dinwiddie has one of the more fascinating free-agent trajectories this offseason. For starters, he has a player option for $12.3 million for next season. While it’s unlikely he picks it up, it is theoretically possible he could do an “extend-and-trade” starting from that number that would allow the Nets to move him to another team and get something back.
Less fancifully, there is the question of Dinwiddie’s value if he signs with another team outright. Coming off a partial ACL tear and having already torn an ACL in college, how much should teams discount his potential production at age 28? Is he worth paying as a leading man, or is he better off in a sixth-man role?
He’ll be further down the list after Conley and Lowry for teams shopping in a strong point guard market but will likely cost less. Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 points a game in the Before Times of 2019-20 but only shoots 31.8 percent from 3 for his career and plays more to score than pass. Can you live with that for, say, three years and $40 million?