On Wednesday, word came down from the heavens that Jimmy Butler had the Brooklyn Nets on his shortlist of teams that he’d want to be traded to. Nets fans rejoiced because it meant a star player looked at this team, its cap space, and the players on the roster and thought “yeah, I could do that.”
Whether or not Butler winds up in Brooklyn is still up in the air, but the news led to the requisite making of fake trades. Personally, I have nothing against fake trades, but talking extensively about fake trades can be boring and quickly becomes unreadable once a real trade happens.
Instead, I present to you my “scientific” attempt to determine which players are most likely to be included in any deals the Brooklyn Nets would theoretically make for a star player — or a non-star player — between now and the trade deadline. Players are graded on two things: how likely another team would be interested in acquiring that player and how likely Brooklyn would be to say “no, pick someone else.” I added those numbers together to come up with their value in any potential trade.
Here’s how the grades work:
Do other teams want him?
2: Sure, throw him in as filler
3: There is some usefulness to this guy
4: He could have a solid role for them
5: Yes, they need talent
Would the Brooklyn Nets trade him?
1: This player is a building block of this team and I can’t imagine a scenario where he is traded.
2: Yeah, but he doesn’t move anyone’s needle.
3: Brooklyn wants to keep this player, but the right deal can change that.
4: A moveable asset that Brooklyn would move before someone graded as a “3.”
5: This player’s long-term outlook in Brooklyn means he can be moved.
Here are the players in reverse order of their trade value:
Three Points: Jared Dudley, Kenneth Faried
As much as I like Jared Dudley and think he could have a role on this team as a stretch four and as much fun as Kenneth Faried is when he dunks the ball, no one is trading for these guys. Their value lies in their status as expiring contracts for a team looking to get off of a long-term deal and include valuable draft capital to facilitate that, but the Brooklyn Nets aren’t positioned to make those kinds of deals this year as they’ll want to keep the cap space open for this upcoming Summer.
Four Points: Shabazz Napier, Ed Davis, Treveon Graham
Three guys acquired this Summer who have more upside than Dudley and Faried and would be useful on other teams, but I don’t see any of them moving the needle for anyone. Could they be useful as pieces that help facilitate deals near the deadline? Sure! Contending teams could have a place for these players, but they aren’t centerpieces of any deal for a star player.
Six Points: Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs
Here’s where things get interesting.
Jarrett Allen is not getting traded. I gave him five points in the “do other teams want him” category, but just one point in the “would Brooklyn move him” category because there’s no conceivable deal that would get the Brooklyn Nets to give up on their most promising player. In 2018, star players never get traded for equal value; there’s no reason for Brooklyn to even entertain making Allen available, especially when he’s an enticing part of their pitch to free agents next year. The only way I could see Allen being moved would be if the Nets signed/traded for a star player, struck out in free agency, and had a chance to use Allen to acquire a second star next year, but even then they’d look to move whoever else they could first.
Kurucs rates low for me here because he isn’t going to give a team that deals for him an immediate impact, but he also doesn’t quite possess the upside of some of the other pieces on this roster, making it hard to see another team wanting him in a deal if Brooklyn offers them other options.
Seven Points: Caris LeVert, Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris, Dzanan Musa
Four names in this category, but a lot of different reasons behind those names.
I’ll start with LeVert. His potential makes him an appealing piece to opposing teams, but I can’t help but think the Brooklyn Nets would rather deal someone like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — whose development suggests we know what he is — than LeVert, and I’d also imagine that teams wanting to stay good after a trade would steer away from LeVert. I love his upside as a scorer and playmaker, but he’s not a safe player to acquire in a deal, which limits the kinds of teams willing to grab him.
Allen Crabbe does a lot of good things that would make him a fit on a contending team, especially if he was moved back to a bench role, but his $18.5 million player option next year has to scare off suitors.
Joe Harris is developing into an elite shooter. He’s got a pretty friendly contract. I think the Brooklyn Nets would be amenable to dealing him, but I think there are other pieces that opposing teams would rather go after.
Dzanan Musa’s trade value is a lot like Kurucs’ trade value. No NBA experience, so teams would be buying into the potential. Ultimately, I think Musa has more potential and can bring back more value in a trade, even if the Brooklyn Nets would rather keep him.
Eight Points: D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
I can’t imagine Brooklyn having any interest in giving up on D’Angelo Russell at this point, but he’s also one of the top talents on this team and will likely come up very, very early in any trade discussions. Brooklyn would be wise to say no in most cases, but Russell has the talent to be the centerpiece of a deal. The Brooklyn Nets would be wise to keep their ears open when his name comes up, but will understandably be quick to suggest teams go after guys in the other tiers.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is both a little more enticing to a “win now” kind of team than guys from the seven-point tier were and a little more likely to be moved if the Nets see a chance to get a star player. While guys like Russell and LeVert still have a lot of their NBA identities wrapped up in their potential, it almost feels like we already know who RHJ is after three seasons. Other teams could like getting a known commodity, while the Nets could be more willing to part with him if they don’t believe he has the potential to develop into a high-level NBA player.
Ten Points: Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll
Two players score a perfect ten points here: the Nets should be willing to move them as they don’t perfectly fit in the team’s future plans and other teams should be willing to acquire them because they can be helpful right now.
Spencer Dinwiddie is a beloved member of this team, but keeping him and re-signing him in free agency seems like a move that’ll end up hampering this team in the long run. His small salary makes him a great candidate to be acquired by a team looking for ammunition for a postseason run, though those teams might not have a great amount to give back. What about teams like Phoenix who need a point guard and see a chance to lock Dinwiddie up if they acquire him, though? He should be one of the easiest pieces to move and while bringing back a star player for him might be difficult because the teams that value Dinwiddie most are unlikely to be the ones looking to deal a star, he’ll bring back something valuable.
DeMarre Carroll also scores a ten here. His ability to play the three or the four and slide into that three-and-D role that teams value — plus his expiring contract — make him a valuable acquisition by a team that needs a solid player. Would Minnesota, a team who would presumably like to not be terrible after making a Butler trade, want a guy like Carroll who could help them win games? Oh, yeah! And unlike Dinwiddie, there should be no “should we re-sign him” struggles from Brooklyn’s front office, as Carroll doesn’t make sense on this team moving forward. A new contract could hurt their chances at getting top-level free agents, and keeping him if they strike out on those free agents doesn’t do much to help this team’s future value.