The Brooklyn Nets will be in an interesting situation this upcoming free agency, as they are one of the few teams currently in the luxury tax threshold. They can only offer free agents a $5.7 million mid-level exception due to their current financial situation, which doesn’t leave them with a whole lot of leverage.
The Nets expect to compete right away once the season starts in December, and they still have one glaring hole on the roster. Ask any Nets fan and they know exactly what that hole is…
A power forward.
Ever since the Nets traded away Thaddeus Young a few seasons ago, the Nets haven’t had a reliable option at the four. No offense to Taurean Prince, but he simply can’t be the starting power forward on a team that wants to win a championship. Yes, the Nets could slide Kevin Durant over to power forward, but he’s a natural small forward. Let him be as comfortable as possible in his first season back from injury.
The amount Joe Tsai is willing to spend in luxury tax due to free agency will determine who the Nets will acquire at power forward. Listed below are a few options the Nets should consider signing if they are serious about contending. Each one of these power forwards could help push the Nets over the top in the Eastern Conference.
Serge Ibaka is many Nets fans’ dream free-agent acquisition.
The seven-foot forward/center had a career year in Toronto last season, averaging 15.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and roughly one block a game, on 51.2% shooting (38.5% from three). Simply put, Ibaka is the ideal player the Nets need. His ability to stretch the floor at the position and play defense at an elite level is exactly what the Nets are missing.
He won’t be cheap though. Ibaka has no reason whatsoever to leave Toronto, and he is due to get a hefty contract. Would he consider signing for less to play in Brooklyn though? It isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Ibaka and Kevin Durant were former teammates in Oklahoma City and they have both spoken out publicly about potentially teaming up again.
We will have to see what happens.
Paul Millsap is a more realistic option for the Nets in free agency.
The 35-year-old isn’t getting any younger, which means he probably won’t be asking for much. He did have a good season in Denver last season, averaging 11.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists on 48.2% shooting from the field (43.5% from three). Definitely the best shooting season of his career.
If the Nets were to sign Millsap, it would mean he’s a temporary solution at the position. His shooting and defense will probably be on the decline soon, but as of right now he could still be of value to the Nets. The $5.7 million mid-level exception the Nets can offer would probably be something he accepts as well, considering his age and production window.
While Paul Millsap isn’t the most exciting option for the Nets, he could still be a nice short term pickup.
Jerami Grant has the best potential fit for the Nets out of any free agent.
If the Nets want to acquire a stretch forward for the long term this free agency, Grant is that guy. The 26-year-old has shown that he can be the perfect complementary power forward for any team, due to his shooting prowess and defense. Last season with Denver, Grant averaged 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, and around a block a game, on 47.8% shooting (38.9% from three).
Grant has all the tools to be an impact player for the Nets right away. He recently declined his $9.3 player option with Denver, making him an unrestricted free agent. The market for Grant is going to be interesting considering the rumors of the Nuggets desperately wanting to keep him. The team has two free-agent power forwards in Grant and Millsap, so the obvious choice for them would be Grant, due to his youth.
This means Grant is probably the least likely option for the Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets need to address a major hole this offseason by signing a power forward. Preferably, someone who can stretch the floor with three-point shooting. The Nets will have a limited amount of options to choose from this free agency, considering their current financial situation.
It all depends on if Joe Tsai is willing to pay more in luxury taxes, which could drastically improve the number of options they decide to target. If the Nets are serious about contending next season, they need a legit stretch four.