Dario Saric
Bruno Rouby, ESNY Graphic

Ahead of the NBA’s trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets should look into acquiring power forward Dario Saric from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Collin Loring

The Brooklyn Nets’ largest hole in the lineup, aside from missing nearly three starters to injury, lies at the power forward slot. With Thursday’s three o’clock deadline just days away, rumors of player availability are starting to surface.

Most recently, Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported that league executives believe Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Dario Saric could be had for the right price:

“Saric could find himself on the trade block by Thursday.,” Deveney writes. “The Wolves likely would prefer to wait until the offseason to make a trade involving what was supposed to be the most valuable piece they got in return for Butler, but according to one league executive, ‘He could be had for a decent offer, a first-rounder and a player.'”

While that’s not as concrete as ESPN’s famous “Woj bombs,” from Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s something Nets fans should keep an eye on. Saric is exactly the kind of player Brooklyn should be targeting ahead of Thursday.

With that in mind, I’ve fired up ESPN’s trade machine to see how general manager Sean Marks could make this happen.

Potential Trade

If the framework of the suggested deal is in play, Brooklyn has a real chance at outbidding other teams for Saric’s services.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the longest tenured player in Brooklyn, and dependent on your glass half full/empty mentality; you can see why that’s a good and a bad thing.

Is it time to part ways with the last remaining member of the infamous Billy King era? Brooklyn’s on track for a bright future, and you can’t blame them for wanting to move on.

On the other hand, you never like to see a team give up on young talent. But Hollis-Jefferson hasn’t sustained any improved play since last season, which some might blame on his injury woes.

Brooklyn Nets

Still, he’s headed for restricted free agency come July, and some team will undoubtedly make an offer the Nets simply can’t afford.

The Denver first is an easy decision, and even swapping it out for Brooklyn’s first makes sense if that’s Minnesota’s preference. The Nets (as of now) have nearly three first-round picks. 

I say nearly, as one of them is a second-round pick, but it may be the very first of that round with New York’s current projection. Marks has consistently drafted well since taking over, and leaving him with a high second rounder is nearly as deadly as a first. Remember that Rodions Kurucs was a second-round steal.

Why Does This Make Sense for Brooklyn?

The Brooklyn Nets, for the first time since 2014, are looking like a playoff team. Despite a recent three-game losing skid, they remain sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 28-27 record.

There’s no doubt among fans that Brooklyn will make a move, it’s just a matter of which move makes the most sense. The power forward position has been undermanned since the start of the season.

Part of that lies in Hollis-Jefferson’s slow development compared to the other youth; part of it lies in just not having the depth.

Veteran forward DeMarre Carroll has often manned the four position, but he plays much better at the small forward slot.

Rookie Rodions Kurucs has been the starting power forward as of late, and while he’s had some great games, he’s still very young and has his ups and downs.

Saric, who last season was a borderline All-Star with the Philadelphia 76ers, is just the kind of player the Nets need. He’s a proven rebounder and shooter; having averaged 6.7 rebounds and a .393 shooting clip from deep last season.

Furthermore, Saric was playing for a contender last season with the 76ers. Philadelphia made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, eventually losing in five games to the Boston Celtics.

He’s got experience in the playoffs, which is extremely lacking among Brooklyn’s starting five.

In the postseason, Saric was monstrous. He scored 20-plus points five out of the 76ers’ 10 playoff games.

This is while playing next to the very ball-dominant duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

He finished the playoffs with averages of 17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. Saric shot 42 percent from the field and 39 percent from three. The kid is a diverse talent.

Check these highlights from his best game of the postseason:

Saric went for 27 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists in the 76ers elimination game. It’s strange to see how far he’s fallen since.

Likelihood

Saric was a real force for Philadelphia all of last season and in the playoffs especially. Fans were even flirting with dubbing he, Embiid, and Simmons a “Big Three.”

It ended just as the season began, however, when the 76ers pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal for Jimmy Butler. Saric, Robert Covington, and Jerryd Bayless were shipped out for the four-time All-Star.

Now in Minnesota, he’s seen a drop in playing time, not really having meshed with their young core. Saric averaged just 23.9 minutes in December, and that fell to 21.5 per game in January.

It’s clear that the Timberwolves don’t see him as a long-term fit, especially with his name floating around in trade talks. Which is interesting considering they traded their star for Saric as recently as two months ago.

Would Minnesota have any interest in Hollis-Jefferson? Hard to say, but offering a player-for-player deal with a first-round pick attached is a great starting place.

Elite Access

The Nets could gauge Minnesota’s interest in Allen Crabbe, who at times can be one of the league’s better three-point shooters. He’s missed 27 games with knee complications but shot .387 from deep in his 28 games this season.

He’s expected to make his return to the court Wednesday, against the Denver Nuggets. Crabbe, who has an $18.5 million dollar player option for next season, could interest the Timberwolves.

Per NBA.com, they currently rank in the bottom half of the league in all things three-point: attempts, makes, and percentage.

Brooklyn would undoubtedly like to dump Crabbe’s salary, but sending him to Minnesota seems unlikely based on their current contracts/projection.

They don’t really consider themselves a playoff team in the Western Conference, do they? Tom Thibodeau is gone, what’s with all the crazy?

Still, we’ve seen Sean Marks seemingly rob franchises in deals like these before. It would be to the surprise of few to see him pull off a steal like trading for a guy like Saric, still on his rookie deal.

Until then, Brooklyn will continue as planned, and look to snap their three-game losing streak on Wednesday. The Nets will host the Denver Nuggets at Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. ET.

ESNY City Stream

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU