The Brooklyn Nets’ one shot of winning an NBA championship with a roster consisting of veteran players in decline and All-Stars with contracts that could break any billionaire’s bank account fell short. After being eliminated by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games, the Nets have plenty of problems to fix this offseason and depending on how they address these issues will determine how much of a success or failure 2014-15 will be.
Part of the reason why the Nets did not live up to the high expectations set forth last summer was because of the absence of their All-Star big man, Brook Lopez . Lopez, 26, missed the remainder of this season after injuring his foot in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 20.
While there’s no question that the reason why the Nets clinched the sixth seed was because their change in strategy by playing small ball, they still could have used Lopez’s services during their time of need in the second round. In the 17 games that the California native actually appeared in, Lopez was on course to finish with career-best averages in player efficiency (25.4) and points per game (20.7).
Even though Lopez has an excellent ability to score, his inability to stay healthy makes him more of a liability than an asset for Brooklyn because of the fact that he hasn’t appeared in an entire season since 2010-11. He is also expected to earn $16 million next season and more than $17 million the following year, which will hurt the Nets financially for the future.
While his value may be low, by trading Lopez, the Nets would be able to acquire a couple of key assets in return, as well as decreasing their luxury tax bill significantly.
So what franchise right now has the cap space and plenty of trade pieces to give to the Nets in return for Lopez? The Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers probably have the most luck out of any NBA franchise. By having the No. 1 overall pick for the third time in four years, Cleveland has an opportunity to pair up either Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins from Kansas or fellow Duke product Jabari Parker with Kyrie Irving to form a young, talented one-two punch. While the team may back out of the option of selecting Embiid with the first pick because of issues with his back, the Jayhawk would still address their need of a center that can control the paint defensively and offensively.
But if the concerns of his health is enough for the Cavaliers to go another route in order to find a talented big man that can gel with Irving, then trading for someone like Lopez is a realistic possibility.
Kevin Love is out there, but Amico throws out a couple of different names. Sam said he believes Sacramento is always willing to look at options for moving Demarcus Cousins and that big man Brooke Lopez could also be an option.
There are huge differences with both Love and Cousins in contrast to Lopez. For instance, Lopez isn’t the player that the Nets are hoping to build around for the future, like the Sacramento Kings are with Cousins. Also, Love has been generating interest from multiple franchises so the asking price for Lopez may be much lower than Love. Still, when healthy, Lopez is major threat offensively and will be able to greatly improve his ability to be a machine underneath the rim defensively .
It’ll be interesting to see who Cleveland will give up along with the No. 1 pick in exchange for Lopez. Possible names include Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Anthony Bennett, who was the No. 1 pick in last year’s NBA draft.
The advantage of bringing in Lopez would also attract multiple highly regarded free agents that want to form the newest “Big Three.” Who knows? It may even convince LeBron James to head back to Cleveland next season.