Does Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King ever sleep? For a team considered by most to be “hamstrung” by the new collective bargaining agreement thanks to a boatload of bloated salaries, the Nets always seem to be in the middle of all the action. That trend continued on Saturday, about a month before the NBA trade deadline, when Brooklyn made two small but possibly significant separate deals, both reported by the incomparable Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The first deal is a straight swap, as the Brooklyn Nets will send second-year small forward Tornike Shengelia to Chicago in exchange for second-year point guard Marquis Teague. The second move will see Tyshawn Taylor head to the Pelicans in exchange for a protected second rounder and cash considerations.
First thing to take into consideration in regards to these two deals: Brooklyn has sent out two players and will only get one in return. Remember, the Nets applied for, and were granted, a $5.5 million dollar player exemption after Brook Lopez was declared out for the year. In order to use it, the team would need to clear a roster spot (not easy, considering every contract was guaranteed). They’ve now done that, and managed to clear $2.5 million in luxury tax savings in the process. Whether or not Brooklyn decides to add another piece with their exception remains to be seen, but as of now, this trade opens the door from a flexibility standpoint.
As far as on the basketball court? It’s clear the Brooklyn Nets do not feel Tyshawn Taylor has a future as an NBA point guard. Although he’s shown flashes (including some incredible D-League statistics and some late game heroics in Indiana last season) Taylor has been mostly erratic in the few minutes he’s been afforded as a Net. With the amount of injuries the Nets have had in their backcourt, there was ample opportunity for Taylor to find a niche in Brooklyn’s rotation and the fact that all coach Jason Kidd awarded the former Kansas product was mop-up duty in blowouts is a testament to the lack of confidence the organization has in him.
The Shengelia-for-Teague deal signals a couple of things. Shengelia is a player Brooklyn liked and at 6’9″ with a motor, he may be a player that could blossom in the right situation. That situation could be in Chicago, where the Bulls are desperate for wing help after the Luol Deng trade (Jimmy Butler played 60 MINUTES in a game Wednesday night). Brooklyn has a ton of talent on the wing, with Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry and Alan Anderson all able to provide minutes at both spots. Moving “Toko” for a point guard such as Teague may mean the Nets are committed to pairing Deron Williams with Shaun Livingston in the starting backcourt. The Nets have been a different, significantly better team in the new year, winning six of their first seven games thanks to a wonky rotation that has Paul Pierce at power forward and a bunch of versatile players all over the floor creating matchup problems on most nights.
So, Jason Kidd gets a new project in Marquis Teague. Expect Teague to get minutes almost immediately, as he’ll be the only true point guard on Brooklyn’s bench. Meanwhile, based on what we’ve seen with this roster, it appears that Deron Williams will be getting the bulk of his minutes off the ball. Deron can score. He has the NBA’s highest scoring game (57 points) of the last four years and he flourished in Turkey during the NBA lockout primarily as a shooting guard. He’ll return to the lineup on Martin Luther King Day against the Knicks. Can he stay healthy the rest of the way?
The one thing fans can take away from this trade: Jason Kidd is committed to going small. It worked for the Knicks last season, a team he played a vital role on as a player. So far, the results have been promising for the Brooklyn Nets. Is it a gimmick that’ll win some regular season games only to flame out come playoff time? Either way, with Brook Lopez out for the year, this may be the only card the Nets have left.