The 2020 NBA restart signals the end of an era for the Brooklyn Nets because after this season is over, more changes are likely coming.
When the Chicago Bulls embarked on “The Last Dance” during the 1998 playoffs, they beat the New Jersey Nets in a three-game sweep. The Bulls knew their window was coming to a close. An era was ending.
It’s the end of an era for the Brooklyn Nets. Sure, the Nets of the last few years aren’t a dynasty like the ’90s Bulls, but this might be the last time fans will watch the current core that was a vital part of the rebuilding process in Brooklyn.
Obviously, bigger and better things are on the horizon for the franchise. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are bonafide superstars and after this season, the Nets will be a legitimate championship contender.
But in the meantime, Nets fans might have their last glimpse of the upstart team that made a surprise run into the 2019 playoffs. Of course, the team’s transformation was already underway prior to the 2019-20 season.
D’Angelo Russell was sent to the Golden State Warriors in a sign-and-trade for Durant. Not to mention, Kenny Atkinson, one of the driving forces behind Brooklyn’s resurgence, parted ways with the team just before the league shut down.
Fret not Brooklynites, there are still a few of your fan favorites left, but they might be sent packing sooner rather than later as well.
Joe Harris — Free Agent
Joe Harris developed into one of the best three-point shooters in the NBA over the last few seasons. The sharpshooting wing is a free agent at the end of the season, but it still feels likely that the Nets make a strong push to re-sign the University of Virginia product. Flanking Durant and Irving with an unconscious three-point shooter seems to make sense in the long-term, but nothing is guaranteed.
In the short-term, Harris is looking to rebound from his forgettable 2019 playoff performance. Outside of some garbage time minutes during his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, 2019 marked Harris’ first legitimate playoff appearances. He knocked down three of four triples en route to a Game 1 win.
However, The Philadelphia 76ers put the clamps on Harris from that point forward. He hit just one three on 17 attempts in the final four games of the series. With free agency looming and plenty of teams in need of a deadeye shooter, this could be Harris’ final chance to avenge his 2019 playoffs in a Nets uniform.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen — Trade Bait
The trio of Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen all fall under the same category right now. All three were crucial pieces in the rebuild, but all three could become potential trade bait in the offseason.
Dinwiddie is a starting-caliber point guard—or a dynamite sixth man—on a reasonable contract. LeVert is a dynamic two-guard who shined in the 2019 playoffs. Despite his injury history, he still has All-Star potential. Jarrett Allen has the potential to become one of the best rim-running centers in basketball.
But despite the upside of all three players, no one’s future is safe. The Nets are rumored to be searching for a third star to help push Brooklyn over the top. Bradley Beal’s name is often tossed around. Although it’s unclear exactly what it would take to trade for a player of Beal’s caliber, it’s safe to assume that at least two of these guys, if not all three would be sent over in the deal.
Of the core group from the long and slow rebuild, two are already gone. Four more could be playing their final games in the black and white Brooklyn uniforms when they travel to the bubble in Walt Disney World.
There’s no doubt that Durant’s decision to sit out the 2020 restart hurts Nets fans. Had Durant and Irving returned, Brooklyn would have been a dark horse championship contender.
However, without those two, Nets fans will have one more opportunity to watch the guys who made signing Durant and Irving possible.