The NBA’s trade deadline got started early this year, with a four-team trade on Tuesday that sent Clint Capela to Atlanta, Robert Covington to Houston, and a lot of other players to a lot of new places.
It was a fun, active trading period, and it ended with the Brooklyn Nets looking…well, looking exactly the same as when it started.
See, the Nets — who currently sit 7th in the Eastern Conference and have virtually no path to finishing anywhere but the 7th or 8th seed — didn’t do anything on Thursday. They didn’t bring in a new wing. They didn’t deal Spencer Dinwiddie for Aaron Gordon, as some suggested could be a possibility. Rodions Kurucs is still a Brooklyn Net. So is Joe Harris.
I’m not even sure I saw the Nets name mentioned in any of the rumors that dropped over the last day or so, and as the title of this article says, that’s fine. Brooklyn not making a deal at the trade deadline is completely, 100% fine.
It’s fun to think about trades, and about how new pieces will fit in, but sometimes the best move — especially for a team in Brooklyn’s position — is to just not make a move.
Why, though? Why would you not try to bolster a roster that features Kyrie Irving and appears to be capped at “first round exit” when the postseason gets here?
A few things:
This may seem obvious, but we should still talk about it: Kevin Durant is not playing this year, and the core that Brooklyn put together to make a run at future titles isn’t in a position to win a title this year, so making win now moves don’t really make sense.
But at the same time, making moves for younger players at the deadline don’t really make sense either, because this isn’t a team that needed rebuilding pieces. Which basically means that Brooklyn is stuck in one of those places where you never want to be stuck when the deadline gets here: you don’t want to take on salary to make a run, because you won’t win a title, but you don’t want to sell off assets for future assets, because you’re pretty certain you can make a run next year. That prevents you from getting involved in a good number of the kinds of deadline trades that happen. You aren’t Memphis, who acquired Justise Winslow at the deadline to help them in the future, or Miami, who grabbed veterans to try making a run at the East this season.
Speaking of Kevin Durant, Brooklyn’s goal right now should be maximizing the talent they have for next year around the Durant and Irving core, so any moves they would have made should have gone toward doing that.
Take the Aaron Gordon talk. I don’t see how he’d fit with that Brooklyn would want to do next year. Durant will need to play the four. Gordon will need to play the four. Gordon would have been a huge help in the short term as someone who manned the four and pushed Taurean Prince to the bench, but what do you do this Summer with him?
We’re far enough in the season to collectively say “yeah, this wasn’t a very good year.” Why spend resources on trying to change that now?
If you want to talk about moves that could have been made, the best place to look is at the team’s role players and at which of them could have been moved.
Joe Harris showed up in a lot of trade rumors, but it’s hard to figure out where he could have gone. Matt Brooks wrote about a hypothetical deal with Sacramento to acquire Bogdan Bogdanovic, and that kind of deal would have been great, but it didn’t materialize. The problem is that Harris is an expiring contract, and the kind of teams that trade for expiring contract off-ball shooters are teams that see him as a quick fix, teams that are contending and need shooting. But what kind of trade would Brooklyn find with a contender for someone like Harris that would improve the Nets past this season? Sure, Brooklyn’s got to address his free agency this Summer, but holding onto a shooter as good as Joe just feels like the right call.
If you do want to quibble, it’s with young guys like Dzanan Musa and Rodions Kurucs still being on the team. Surely there could have been some team willing to take them on and give you a veteran who could help you in the future?
But that requires a team to both want those guys and have an asset to give up that fits what Brooklyn wants. Did that kind of trade exist? And would it even have made more sense to make that kind of trade over just keeping those guys on the roster?
There’s also the fact that Sean Marks hasn’t traditionally made big deadline deals. He’s made small ones, but the Nets just don’t do splashy trades. This deadline went…pretty much exactly like we should have expected it to go.
And yes, we all know the whole “Kyrie wants his teammates traded” narrative that’s out there. Two things. First, you don’t make rash trades based on those comments, and second, the front office has definitely talked to Irving, so if there was some players who they needed to move, they might have done it, or they might do it this Summer since, and I’ll say it again since it’s important, the Nets aren’t winning a title this year and need to be smart and methodical about the moves they eventually do make.
So, yeah, the Nets didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline. Other teams did. It’s fine. Don’t worry.