Nets Expected to Shop Veteran Starter, East Rival Floated as Landing Spot

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Dorian Finney-Smith #28 and Spencer Dinwiddie #26 of the Brooklyn Nets.

Quietly, the Brooklyn Nets are flush with some of the most valuable trade assets in the current NBA, a landscape highlighted by athleticism and perimeter play.

And they are expected to try cashing in on that depth this offseason.

“The Nets have cornered the market on 3-and-D wings,” an NBA executive told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “While many rival executives around the league are convinced [Mikal] Bridges isn’t going anywhere, there’s a belief the Nets could break up their surplus of wing depth and trade either [Dorian] Finney-Smith or [Royce] O’Neale. Various teams around the league, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, are expected to pursue potential 3-and-D wings this summer.”

Bridges’ apparent star turn – even if it’s best suited for a No. 2 option – is the one thing the Nets can definitively hang their hat on after getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. But the reality is that this is a roster in flux that always figures to undergo a makeover this coming offseason after the frenetic trade deadline.

Scotto confirms that the Nets turned down multiple offers of two first-round picks for Finne-Smith after acquiring him from the Dallas Mavericks for Kyrie Irving which Brian Lewis of the New York Post previously reported.

Finney-Smith is entering the second year of a four-year, $55 million deal with a $15.3 million player option in the final season.

He averaged 7.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 26 regular season appearances for the Nets, all starts. During the postseason, Finney-Smith averaged just 6.3 points and 4.5 boards in the playoffs but upped his three-point efficiency from 30.6% with Brooklyn in the regular season to 41.2%.

Dallas also got Spencer Dinwiddie, a 2029 first-round pick, and a pair of second-rounders (2027, 2029) for the mercurial point guard. Dinwiddie, 30, is entering the final year of his three-year, $54 million contract.

He averaged 16.5 points, 9.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals across his 26 appearances.

Despite showing improved playmaking chops in his second Nets stint, former Brooklyn assistant general manager Bobby Marks cautions that he should not get an extension this summer.

It is important to note that part of the idea behind bringing in Finney-Smith and Dinwiddie was to hopefully appease Kevin Durant in the wake of Irving’s trade demand. That did not happen so it would make sense that the Nets’ line of thinking would adjust accordingly.

Scotto adds that the Nets “could’ve gotten” a first-rounder for O’Neale who has one year at $9.5 million remaining on his contract of which only $2.5 million is guaranteed.

O’Neale averaged 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists this season and provided solid defense.

Both Finney-Smith and O’Neale will turn 30 years old this summer, and head coach Jacque Vaughn has already laid out what he feels the roster needs to take the next step next season. Dealing away one or both of their aging two-way players could help them get there.

Jacque Vaughn Delivers Offseason Wishlist

“I think for our group going forward, the ability for multiple people to get downhill and get to the paint and create opportunities, that’s a need for us; yes,” said Vaughn via the team’s official YouTube channel after Game 4 versus Philadelphia.

That was not the only area where he feels the Nets need reinforcements.

“The piece of it that keeps staring us in the face, we gotta grab on to it: We gotta get bigger over the summer,” said Vaughn. “We got to get nasty over the summer. We got to get guys who really love hitting and take it personal when the other team gets a rebound. That’s what we’ll be looking for.”

It’s been a theme for the Nets who ranked 29th in total rebounding during the regular season and tied for last among playoff teams on their elimination finishing minus-54 on the boards.

Ironically, the Nets traded Jarrett Allen to the Cavs in 2021 to facilitate the James Harden trade.

While Vaughn did not name Nic Claxton directly, the Nets big man was outrebounded in the series by Sixers forward Tobias Harris and was arguably outplayed by Sixers backup big man Paul Reed – who was filling in for the injured Joel Embiid – in the second half of the closeout game after getting himself ejected from Game 3.

Nic Claxton Still Trending Up

Claxton, 24, is heading into the final year of his contract and has called for a greater team effort on the boards in the past. Be he the NBA’s regular-season leader in field goal percentage also knows he is just scratching the surface of what he can do.

He also finished the regular season tied for second in blocks.

Claxton – listed at 215 pounds on the team’s website – will have to bulk up to bang in the trenches with the likes of Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, or the likes of Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo when he’s locked in.

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