ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton gave the Brooklyn Nets a C+ for their offseason moves and future outlook.
There's a lot to like about the Nets' offseason. ... Still, Brooklyn is left with a 2015-16 team that is unlikely to make the playoffs because of a gaping hole at point guard without [Deron] Williams.
Going into the summer, the Nets had four main objectives:
3. Avoid paying the luxury tax
4. Get younger and more athletic
Nets general manager Billy King almost accomplished all of them.
He started by inking Lopez (three years, $63 million) and Young (four years, $50 million, player option) to fairly reasonable deals.
King tried in vain to move Johnson and Williams before ultimately paying Williams $27.5 million of the remaining $43.3 million owed to him as part of a buyout.
The move saved around $40-50 million in potential luxury tax fees next season, while bringing Brooklyn under the $84.7 million luxury tax line. It also gave them almost $17 million in additional cap space for 2016-17 (they could have around $40 million in cap space by then).
It's an addition by subtraction move that the Nets hope will increase team chemistry and boast morale. Johnson, in particular, could benefit, although the team did operate at a near top-10 efficiency level on offense with Williams on the court.
King ended up taking inexpensive fliers on multiple journeymen -- including Larkin, Robinson, Wayne Ellington and Andrea Bargnani. Will all of them pan out? Given their histories of being unable to stick with a single team, it seems unlikely. But the more realistic hope is that one or two will.
On draft night, King dealt Mason Plumlee in exchange for hyper-athletic defender Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, while also taking a chance of Chris McCullough, who is coming off a significant ACL injury and might not play next season. Brooklyn's core is composed of Lopez (27), Young (27), Bojan Bogdanovic (26), Hollis-Jefferson (20) and McCullough (20).
Basically, it came time for the Nets to admit their five-year championship plan was a mistake, learn from it and move on. Would it be nice if they had their first-rounders in 2016 and 2018? Obviously. Would it also be nice if they didn't have to potentially swap firsts with Boston in 2017? Of course. But it is what it is.
The Nets dug this massive hole, and now they're attempting to dig themselves out of it.
They have the potential to be free-agent players in the summers of 2016 and 2017. But it remains to be seen whether they can actually lure anyone to Brooklyn. Travis Outlaw is the largest free-agent signing in franchise history -- five years, $35 million -- for a player who wasn't already on their roster.
Former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks wrote a recent piece for Hoopshype about how the summer of 2016 (Mike Conley Jr., DeMar DeRozan, Dwight Howard, etc.) might not be as exciting as everyone thought. But the summer of 2017 could have a crop that includes Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka, Rudy Gay, Paul Millsap and Greg Monroe.
The Nets' $45 million waterfront Brooklyn practice facility is expected to be completed in February, which will give the franchise another solid selling point. Still, in an age in which the advantage of being a big market team has never seemed so small, the Nets are going to have to sell prospective free agents on franchise stability and potential.
In the meantime, they have to hope Lionel Hollins can coach this young team to the playoffs with Jarrett Jack handling the point guard position in what has to be considered a transition season.
Given the good and the bad, Pelton's C+ grade seems fair.