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Are the Nets' picks at their peak value?
Now may be the time to strike.
Nobody could’ve foreseen things blowing up so quickly in Brooklyn. If the Nets had seen this as a possibility, they probably wouldn’t have given the Houston Rockets control of their first round picks until 2027 in exchange for James Harden.
But they did and we’re here now. These picks look about as attractive as they ever could be now that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are presumed to be out of Brooklyn by the next trade deadline. And that’s precisely why one could argue that it’s time for Houston to explore selling high on these picks. Houston’s bet against Brooklyn’s future paid off and it’s probably time to think about cashing out if you can.
There’s a temptation for your average Rockets fan to go “Why would we ever trade these picks? We’re basically in the situation the Celtics were in 7-8 years ago.” This is obviously in reference to when Brooklyn traded all of their first round picks for an aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013 and it backfired on them. I’ll now explain why it would be extremely foolish to believe this is the same situation.
Brooklyn is acutely aware of how badly they messed up that trade. They watched both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown get drafted by another team while they were forced to plunder the G League for young talent. There’s a strong motivation to not repeat that mistake again. And this time, they have the benefit of being able to learn learn from their mistakes.
Nets GM Sean Marks’ is NOT former Nets’ GM Billy King. For all the mistakes Marks’ has made recently, he’s shown himself to be a much more competent front office leader than King ever was. For example, Marks has already displayed an ability to scrap and remain competitive without draft picks when he was first hired in Brooklyn. It’s unlikely he will allow the Nets to be the worst team in the NBA for several years like King did.
Probably most importantly, the Nets have a much stronger war chest now than they did in 2016. They may not have picks, but they have Kevin Durant. Instead of letting things play out and leaving the Nets in free agency next year, Durant signed a four-year extension last summer and requested a trade. That’s a very key distinction. It means the Nets have the ability to recoup a significant amount of assets for Durant alone. That’s without taking into account Kyrie Irving (1 year remaining) and Ben Simmons (3 years remaining) who should also get them back assets.
The best asset on that last Nets team was Bojan Bogdanović.
This is not a team without avenues to improve and safeguard their future. They have a lot of incentive to target good players that will allow them to compete and rebuild at the same time. It would be naive to assume they aren’t doing everything in their power to minimize the damage of the Harden trade. And unlike the 2016 Nets, they have the resources to actually accomplish that.
For the time being, the return for Kevin Durant is unknown, meaning the future of the Nets’ is unknown. This is why these Nets picks may be at their peak values right now. The Rockets should, at the very least, explore selling. They should at least go see what’s out there for them. Houston doesn’t necessarily have to look at trades that require trading all of that capital - just some.
Can you nab someone like Scottie Barnes or Evan Mobley? There’s no harm in asking. What about DeAndre Ayton in a possible sign-and-trade scenario? Make the phone call and see what the asking price is. What if you packaged Jae’Sean Tate, K.J. Martin, and some of these picks for Michael Porter Jr.?
There’s a world of possibilities out there and the Rockets would not be doing their jobs if they aren’t at least asking themselves these questions internally and making phone calls. It’s just something to chew on.