The 2015-2016 NBA season is barely two weeks old, but it seems clear that the Brooklyn Nets won't be contending for a playoff berth. After starting the season at 1-7, Brooklyn has reportedly begun considering trade options.
Nets general manager Billy King has admitted that he’s spoken to teams about potential trades. Despite their lack of talent, the Nets have a few players that would intrigue teams looking to make a playoff run.
But Brooklyn is in a curious position. Tanking does them no good for the future, considering the Boston Celtics own their 2016 and 2018 first-round picks, along with the right to swap first-round selections in 2017. Yet trading a few of their top players for draft picks and developing players might be unavoidable considering their current status.
Below is a look at three players the Nets could deal by the trade deadline.
Dealing Johnson seems like a top priority. The veteran is in the final year of his contract, and he’ll be long gone before Brooklyn is ever good again. Johnson does have some trade value for a team looking for a shooting guard that can score, because he has an expiring contract. But if he continues to struggle from the field, the Nets won’t be able to move him at all.
Johnson used to be one of the NBA’s premier scorers, but he’s currently performing like one of the least efficient players in the NBA. He’s shooting just 32.6 percent from the field and 20 percent from three-point range. But Johnson made 36 percent of his threes last season, and a team desperate for a scorer could pull the trigger on a deal if his shooting improves. He was linked to potential trades involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason.
The Nets might be the worst team in the East, but they still have one of the NBA’s best centers. Lopez is averaging 19.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He excelled in the second half of last season, leading Brooklyn to the playoffs, and he has a reasonable contract. Lopez signed a three-year, $60 million contract in the summer, and his $20 million per year salary will seem like nothing when the salary cap explodes over the next two years.
The biggest issue with Lopez is his health. He played 72 games last season, but Brooklyn’s center played just 17 games in the previous season, and he missed all but five games in 2011-2012. Lopez isn’t a great defender, but his scoring abilities make him an asset that can bring the Nets back something of value.
In some ways, Young is Brooklyn’s best trade chip. The former first-round pick is just 27 years old, and he usually stays healthy, having played at least 76 games in each of the last three seasons. Averaging 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season, he’s shooting 51 percent from the field.
Young signed a four-year, $50 million contract this offseason, and he’s been such a consistent performer that he’s well worth the price. He wouldn’t bring the Nets back the high first-round draft pick they need, but a team looking to add depth as they head for the playoffs might want to acquire him.