#2 Trading For Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur And A 1st-Round Pick
This was a huge move for Brooklyn and there’s no way to undersell this. This move was made primarily so the Denver Nuggets could create cap space and move off Kenneth Faried’s contract. But this move works for the Nets in a few different ways.
First off, Arthur was subsequently dealt to the Suns in the aforementioned Jared Dudley deal. Marks found a way to take the least appealing part of this trade and flip it into something—slightly—more appealing.
Second, Kenneth Faried fell out of Denver’s rotation last season, but it wasn’t because of a decline in performance. Unfortunately, Faried just happened to be the odd man out in a very deep frontcourt. His per 36 numbers were in line with his career production. Additionally, Faried brings a ruggedness to the inside that the Nets were sorely lacking. He isn’t exactly the kind of power forward that fits Atkinson’s style or the changing dynamic of the NBA. But he still brings value to this young Nets roster.
Finally, the Nets draft pick woes have been well documented throughout the years. After only having five low first-round picks since 2011, the Nets could potentially have two lottery picks next season. Of course, Denver’s first-round pick is 1-12 protected so what are the chances of that happening? Well, not good. But you’re telling me there’s a chance?
Perhaps it’s more symbolic than anything, but this feels overwhelmingly positive for a team living in draft pick purgatory for the better part of the last eight years.
#1 Trading Timofey Mozgov and Buying Out Dwight Howard
This was the most important move of the summer for Marks and company. This is the move that allows the organization the flexibility to sign two max-level contracts next season. Marks deftly moved Timofey Mozgov’s burdensome contract and bought out Dwight Howard to ensure that he has flexibility in the summer of 2019.
The aforementioned Leonard, Irving, Butler, and Thompson are a few of the names on the Nets’ wishlist next summer. It may seem farfetched at this point to expect any of those players to come to Brooklyn, let alone two. But the keys here are the many moves the Nets have made to get to this point. Building the roster from the ground up was not easy and it was anything but swift.
But the Nets saw in eight-win improvement from the 2016-17 season to the 2017-18 season. Another positive showing from Atkinson and his ball club may catch the eye of a couple superstars on the market. Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving are already rumored to have interest in playing with one another. A young Brooklyn team with a foundation in place is more enticing than one would think.
Of course, if Brooklyn whiffs in 2019, the work put in may all be for naught. But with everything we know, it’s hard to imagine Marks missing completely. Will they sign two max-level players? Maybe not. But if this year goes as planned, don’t be surprised when the Nets land a big fish in free agency. At that point, the Nets will be competitive in a weak Eastern Conference and finally relevant for the first time in years.
It’s all building to that moment.