Proposed Nets Trade Lands Thunder’s Former Top-20 Pick

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Tre Mann of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Brooklyn Nets entered the offseason with a need for a downhill threat, according to head coach Jacque Vaughn.

In a Bleacher Report story about “new trade ideas for every NBA team,” Dan Favale suggested the Nets acquire 22-year-old point guard Tre Mann from the Oklahoma City Thunder to address the issue.

“Scooping up Mann [would reflect] the existential limbo in which the Nets find themselves,” Favale wrote in the story, which was published July 16. The Nets’ activity this offseason “implies that they’re in wait-and-see mode,” Favale wrote.

Already this season, the Nets have addressed the issue from a variety of angles, first drafting Dariq Whitehead, who has experience as an on-ball creator, and adding Dennis Smith Jr. and Lonnie Walker IV in free agency. They also re-signed Cam Johnson to a two-year deal, suggesting the Nets “remain interested in staying relevant now.”

Mann, 22, was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2021 draft, out of the University of Florida. He had an effective rookie season, averaging 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 36% from beyond the arc, but most of those numbers tell last season. The 6-foot-3 point guard averaged 7.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and shot 31.5% from downtown.

He did, however, set a new career-high with 67 appearances.

During the 2023 Summer League in Las Vegas, Mann made one appearance logging 11 points, five assists (to three turnovers) and two steals. In three games during Summer League in Salt Lake City, however, Mann averaged 23.7 points while shooting 41.7% from 3-point range with 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.7 steals.

While he has never been a high-assist player – just 3.5 assists per game as a sophomore in college – he certainly puts plenty of pressure on the rim, getting downhill with a quick first step and then showing off his athleticism at the rim.

He was shelved by a fractured finger, but that could present the perfect opportunity for the Nets to strike because interest around the league could be down and his rank in OKC’s pecking order remains unchanged.

Acquiring Tre Mann Would Fit Nets’ Blueprint

The Nets have been floated in a few trade rumors linking them to Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro, Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam and Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who is close with the Nets’ Mikal Bridges. But Nets general manager Sean Marks has gone about a very different course of action this offseason.

In addition to Smith and Walker, Marks has also added former No. 23 overall pick (2019) Darius Bazley as a low-cost dart throw.

It all fits Marks’ assertion that he won’t rush into another superstar trade.

Mann figures to be on the outside looking in at a Thunder rotation that has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and rookie Cason Wallace, the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft, via a trade with the Dallas Mavericks to its stable of ballhandlers.

Brooklyn has no such logjam. Both Smith and Walker signed one-year contracts while Spencer Dinwiddie would be a great model for Mann as he learned to balance being a scorer and facilitator.

Nets’ Master Plan

The Nets wouldn’t need Mann to develop into a pure point guard if their longest-running plan were to come to fruition and Ben Simmons returned to the form that earned him three All-Star selections and two All-Defensive Team honors. Year 1 was mostly a wash with the mercurial point forward averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists.

He made 42 appearances with none coming after the All-Star break.

Working in Brooklyn’s favor, Simmons appears to be doing well in his rehabilitation from his back injury. He is also heading into Year 4 of a five-year, $177.2 million contract making him less of a long-term burden if it doesn’t work.

That last part is key if the Nets have any plans on using Simmons as salary-matching fodder in a trade down the line.