BROOKLYN, NY - MARCH 30: Ed Davis #17 of the Brooklyn Nets Aron Baynes #46 of the Boston Celtics and DeMarre Carroll #9 of the Brooklyn Nets box out during the game on March 30, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Who Should Stay and Who Should Go? Brooklyn’s Free Agent Situation
With all the attention focused on who the Nets could potentially sign in free agency, there has been little mentioned about the players on the Nets roster right now that will become free agents. Okay, let me rephrase that. Little has been said about upcoming free agents NOT named D’Angelo Russell.
The Nets will have some tough decisions to make this summer on who to keep and who to let go. Although these kind of decisions happen every season, this just feels a little different. The Nets team this year felt like a family all year and unfortunately, some fan favorites may not be back next year. This article will take a look at both restricted and unrestricted free agents and evaluate whether or not they’ll be back.
The first of the unrestricted free agents to look at is DeMarre Carroll. Brooklyn took on the final two years and $30M of Carroll’s contract as a salary dump by the Raptors back in 2017. In his time with the Nets, Carroll has been not only a solid contributor on the court but also a presence in the locker room. He’s known around the league and by fans as the “Swag Daddy” for his colorful wardrobe.
His stats were actually down this season due to missing a good chunk of the beginning of the year because of ankle surgery. Even still, Carroll managed to average 11.1 ppg, 5.2 rbg and shot just over 39% from the field. The most notable difference was in the advanced stats from this year to last. His WS(Win Share) was down a whole point from 4.1 to 3.1 and his PER (Player Efficiency Rating) went from 14.3 to 12.1. His VORP also dipped from 1.2 to 0.1. These drops are likely due to the emergence of Rodions Kurucs.
At 6’8 Carroll fits your prototypical small forward role. The Nets used him at the power forward spot at times when they went small. This is the area the Nets will be focusing on very heavily during free agency. Unfortunately for Carroll, Kurucs really burst onto the scene last season and proved he could be a starter on this Nets team.
At 32 years old Carroll is entering the later stages in his career. Depending on what the Nets do in free agency they may not have the cap space to bring Carroll back on a multi-year deal. It’s very plausible that Carroll could land a two or three year deal with another team. If the Nets were to bring him back it would most likely be on a one-year deal and it’s highly unlikely he would be a starter. It may be in the best interest of both parties to part ways.
Signed during free agency last summer, Ed Davis, formerly of the Portland Trailblazers, quickly became a fan favorite. After watching Davis play for a game you could see why many players on Portland were upset he wasn’t brought back. Ed brings energy and fire off the bench that isn’t easily matched by others. Although he doesn’t have a mean demeanor off the court, he certainly plays like he does. He was the physical presence in the paint and on the boards that the Nets desperately needed.
Although Jarrett Allen was racking up the blocks he was getting bullied and outrebounded. That’s where Davis came in. Off the bench, he averaged 8.6 rbg which equated to 17.3 rbg per 36 minutes. He also had a defensive rebound percentage of 34.6% which was among one of the best percentages in the league.
The eight-year veteran has been sort of a journeyman in the league, having played for five teams already. Davis only made $4.4 M last year on a one year deal but that number may have to increase if the Nets intend to bring him back for next season. Davis is only 29 which means he still has some prime years left in him.
The Nets most likely won’t address Davis and whether or not to resign him until after all the bigger fish have left the pond. Brooklyn is already thin at the big man position. At 20 years old Allen is still developing his game and body. Letting Davis walk would be a big mistake by the Nets. It would be very difficult finding another player that gives that type of production.
The fan favorites of fan favorites. Reggie Evans might be the only Brooklyn player in recent memory that got this type of love from the fans. Dudley was by no means someone the Nets relied on to get them a bucket or lock down a player. However, what he brought was not only veteran leadership but a youthful spirit. Jared could be seen often on the bench alongside others dancing and hyping up their teammates.
Dudley did miss a good portion of the 2nd half of the season due to injury and his absence was surely felt. But when he was on the floor he not only served as a calming presence but also someone to get the troops in line. He has undoubtedly had quite a few notable moments with this team though. His big 3 against the Lakers and his involvement with the 25 point comeback against the Kings. And of course his rivalry in the playoffs against Ben Simmons and the entire city of Philadelphia.
With all that being said the Nets will have to make the decision of whether it’s worth using what will most likely be the final roster spot on Dudley. At 33 years old Dudley is just about at the end of the line. He as well as anyone knows this is a business and sometimes business decisions need to be made. If Dudley is brought back it will most likely be on a veteran’s minimum.
Although just about everything on the court can be measured in numbers there are some things that just can’t be. He was essentially a coach on the floor for Brooklyn and understands the game just about as well as anyone in the league. If it were up to me, Dudley would be back with the Nets next year. However, that’s a decision for Sean Marks and the rest of the front office.
It’s crazy to think that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is Brooklyn’s longest-tenured player. He’s the only player on the team that was around before the Marks/Atkinson era. Last season RHJ looked to be turning a corner as he had career-high statistics across the board. However this year he took a step back. When in the game though he was a ball of energy with a high motor. Whenever the Nets were looking sluggish Kenny Atkinson would turn to Rondae to provide a spark off the bench.
At one point he fell completely out of the rotation but he never pouted or complained. He continued rooting on his team from the sidelines and was an integral part of the Nets’ bench mob. His signature moment came when he hit the game-winning shot with less than a second left to complete Brooklyn’s epic comeback against the Kings.
Much like D’Angelo Russell, RHJ is a restricted free agent. Which means if a team offers Rondae a contract the Nets have the ability to match. The problem comes with whether the Nets will want to match. It’s no secret that the Nets are looking for a stretch 4 player. Names like Tobias Harris, Julius Randle, and Al-Faruq Aminu have come up as potential candidates.
Although he’s a solid wing defender with length, Rondae’s inability to stretch the floor with his shooting is his ultimate downfall and a big reason why he fell out of the rotation. All in all, Hollis-Jefferson fully embodies the culture Brooklyn has been building. However, his fate on the Nets will all depend on what the team does during the early stages of free agency. For the sake of signing a top free agent it would be in Brooklyn’s best interest to not sign RHJ back next season .