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Blatche opting out, Pierce and Livingston free agents; Brooklyn has tough summer ahead

May 15, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat - Game Five Getty Images

Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov just paid $180 million in salary and luxury tax to win one game in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

And to assemble this older, one-and-done roster they traded away a lot of young players and draft picks.

Nets fans, things are going to get worse before they get better.

Paul Pierce is a free agent, Shaun Livingston is a free agent, and Andray Blatche says he is going to opt out and test the free agent market.

And even without those three, even if other guys with options (Andrei Kirilenko and Alan Anderson) opt out, the Nets payroll is above $85 million next season — more than $10 million above the luxury tax line. The Nets can pay more than anyone to keep Pierce (and they want to keep Livingston and Blatche), but that is going to come with a healthy tax burden.

One they have no choice but to pay. Not that Prokhorov seems to care. The question is does Pierce want to come back to a team destined for mediocrity? He dodged the question when ESPN New York asked.

“I haven’t really put much thought into it,” Pierce said of what his future holds and if he wants to remain a Net. “I put my whole focus into this season, it’s my last year of the contract. I will sit back and talk to the family and see where my options are from there and go from there.”

GM Billy King at the urging of Prokhorov built for this past season with no concern for the future — now they are stuck. The NEts don’t have a draft pick this year, next season the Hawks can swap picks with them, then in 2016 they again do not have a draft pick. Actually, they don’t have their own draft pick unfettered by a possible swap until 2019.

What they have is two more years of Joe Johnson at $48.1 million, three years of Deron Williams and his bad ankles (he says he may need surgery on both this offseason) at $63 million, another year of Kevin Garnett at $12 million (you really think he’ll retire and awl away from that?), plus there Marcus Thornton for one more year at $8.5 million.

What they have is a roster they are largely locked into. There is no easy way to get more athletic, younger, less expensive talent to replace the old guys. Teams are not trading young for old like they used to, not under this CBA.

The one ray of hope is Brook Lopez getting healthy — he is the best scoring center in the game. Problem is, the Nets could not figure out how to use him properly, their offense actually dipped two points per 100 possessions when he was one the court this season. The Nets didn’t find their identity until he was gone for the season and coach Jason Kidd was forced to go small, putting Garnett at the five and Pierce at the four.

The Nets have to find a way to better use Lopez.

Then they have no choice but to keep spending — the NEts need to bring back Pierce, Livingston and Blatche. If they can make a trade that sees them take on another bad contract but brings in real talent, they have to do it.

It’s a spiral of spending and getting older, it’s a road GM Billy King has always driven down and Prokhorov feels comfortable with. It’s not going to get them a title, they can’t just buy their way to a ring, they can’t get free agents, but they can’t get off this road now. Eventually they will need to strip it all down and rebuild, but with no picks for so long at this point they might as well just keep on trying to spend their way.

All the way to the second round.

  1. RavenzGunnerz - May 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    The russian guy is going to quickly find out that the NBA is not the EPL. You can’t buy success. Unless if you get LeBron…

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - May 15, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      Mikhail Prokhorov, you’re no Mickey Arison.

    • hehateme2 - May 15, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      So glad the Heat stuck the fork in those old Celts once again. Poor whining losers… just in another city.

      • antistratfordian - May 15, 2014 at 7:03 PM

        I really dislike Pierce and Garnett while the game is being played. But after the game I let that go. I respect those guys. Pierce is like a zombie – you can’t kill it! You chop his legs off and he’s still crawling for you as bloodthirsty as ever.

        Next year Pierce is going to be on the Thunder and watch – Heat-Thunder Finals. Back from the dead.

  2. csbanter - May 15, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    Pierce heart is with the Celtics, no matter how he tried to prove his soul was with Brooklyn, the Celtics is home. He should explore that option and finish his career in Beantown.

  3. jerryreesespieces - May 15, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    The amount of typos in this short post is unbelievable. “Awl away”? “NEts”? “there Marcus”? Do you not have an editor for this site?

    • daydreamer3075 - May 15, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      Forget an editor–how about just a spell-check function your pc!

    • willkill4caffeine - May 16, 2014 at 8:49 AM

      Methinks I see a trend

  4. eugenesaxe1 - May 15, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    Pierce wants to go to Miami so he doesn’t have to speak to garnett any more.

    • cantonb0und13 - May 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM

      Pierce miss Ray Allen. KG is trying to force Pierce to hate Allen. All things consider, Pierce ends up signing with the Clippers.

    • leahcima1 - May 15, 2014 at 10:11 PM

      There is zero chance of Pierce seeing the inside of Heat’s American Airlines Arena unless he buys season tickets. Eugene Pierce burned ever bridge between Brooklyn and South Beach long ago.

  5. cantonb0und13 - May 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    They are waiting for Kevin Durant. No need to sign guys to 3-4 year contracts. I personally don’t believe Durant will sign with the Nets, but if they believe they can sign him, then don’t sign guys to long-term contracts. With that being said, Nets goal is to eventually win a championship, while James Dolan goal is to only beat the Nets. Sad, but it’s the truth. As long as the Knicks are better than the Nets, James Dolan is satisfied.

  6. adamsjohn714 - May 15, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Re-sign none of those guys. Trade Garnett to some stupid team that still thinks he’s good and can help them win in/get to the playoffs (plus he’s expiring, and the Timberwolves are a pretty dumb team). Whatever you get for him needs to be turned into picks. 2nd round, whatever. You need young, cheap contracts going forward. Hopefully Brook can play serviceable minutes down low, and play Plumlee 35 minutes a night.

    In short, ditch the old guys as best you can for picks. Play the young guys (the few you have) to develop and evaluate them. Limit Deron’s minutes to help you stink and keep him healthy. Maybe, in 3 years, you won’t be in a horrible situation.

    In all likelihood, they hamstrung themselves with these foolish moves for the next 5 years.

    • genericusername93 - May 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      Good luck finding someone to trade for the right to pay Garnett $12 mill next year.

      • adamsjohn714 - May 15, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Yeah. It’s a longshot. Maybe putting him so blatantly on the trading block pisses him off so much he retires and saves you the trouble.

      • eugenesaxe1 - May 15, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        Yeah, he’s not walking away from his last real payday.

    • azarkhan - May 15, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      Garnett was already traded “to some stupid team that still thinks he’s good and can help them win…” That team is the Brooklyn Nets.

      • adamsjohn714 - May 15, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        hahaha. very true. Hopefully for their sake there’s more than one

    • 1historian - May 16, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      ”ditch the old guys as best you can for picks.”

      Good advice, but the Celts already did that The guy was suckered and he was the only guy at the time that didn’t know it.

      He knows now.

  7. detlefschrempfriedrice - May 15, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Drop NEts and go with Nyets, you’re not coming across how you want to using NEts

  8. azarkhan - May 15, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Three first round draft picks (2014, 2016 and 2018), as well as the right to swap first round picks in 2017 to the Boston Celtics for Pierce (36), Garnett (37), Terry (36) and DJ White (who is now a Bobcat).

    It just doesn’t get stupider than that.

    • cantonb0und13 - May 15, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      That’s how the Knicks and Nets run business. #mediocrity

      • leahcima1 - May 15, 2014 at 10:15 PM

        Interesting comment. I wonder what a real Knick fan would reply to such a post?

    • rrhoe - May 15, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      Boston hosed them,that’s for sure,didn’t know they gave up so much,then had to re-sign Garnett,whoa….

    • borderline1988 - May 15, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      Honestly, Ainge is a freakin genius.

      He bought 6 years of competitiveness with the Big 3 that resulted in 1 championship, 2 Finals, and 6 very competitive playoff trips.
      Then he got out at just the right time by trading Pierce & Garnett for valuable picks, the exact year that Garnett started sucking,
      Meanwhile, the Celtics tanked in the year with strongest draft since 2003.

      The Celtics may suck now, but in 3 or 4 years, they will be the emerging team in the Eastern Conference, just as the Miami Heat start slowing down due to age.

      • beach305 - May 15, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        You can’t think about the future as it always never goes as plan.

      • 1historian - May 15, 2014 at 7:32 PM

        we can always hope

      • willkill4caffeine - May 16, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        Don’t sleep on the 76ers as an emerging team in the East. Same situation as you (minus the whole being good thing and winning championships a few years ago). They traded away their identity players (Holliday) for Noel and the Hornets first-round pick in this draft, drafted MCW, and got rid of the rest of their recognizable faces in order to tank and hope to secure a top-three pick in this loaded draft. Hoping to see big things in a few years with this squad, it would be amazing to have relevant NBA basketball back in the City of Brotherly Love.

    • 1historian - May 15, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      we can always hope

      • 1historian - May 16, 2014 at 8:35 AM

        I originally said this in response to Azarkhan’s post yesterday ending with “It doesn’t get any stupider than that.”

        Whoever made the deal with the Celtics is dumber than 3 buckets of s..t.

  9. detlefschrempfriedrice - May 15, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Trade DWill, guys a helluva player but w injuries/inconsistency he’s not worth his price tag

    • rrhoe - May 15, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      Maybe Dallas would go for it,doubt it tho’,Mark Cuban should thank his lucky charms he lost out on D-Will all things considered……

      • bknowledge - May 16, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        Deron for Asik and Lin…or Deron and Mason Plumlee for Asik and Lin.

        Houston gets its third star; guy with a good relationship to Dwight; and a solid back-up center on a cheap contract; and Houston saves about 10 million dollars next year.

        Nets get two guys of questionable value (some people say Lin/Asik are great; some people think they are way over-rated).

        Nets start:
        Joe J
        Marcus Thornton
        Alan Anderson
        possibly Garnett/Pierce

        expiring deals on that list after next season:
        Asik, Lin, Kirilenko, Teletovic, Thornton, Anderson, KG…
        Nets might be able to sign a max free agent after next season if they can get rid of Deron’s deal for expiring contracts.
        Brook and Joe J both expire the season after that…so…this roster could look very different two years from now if….

        Nets have been great in terms of talent evaluation in some ways:
        Alan Anderson
        5 players that out-performed their contracts…
        The Nets have made mistakes too…

  10. bknowledge - May 15, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    Brook Lopez is best utilized as the first scorer off the bench….he’s like Jamal Crawford.

    Brook can score on pretty much anybody, but can’t really rebound or defend his position. Play him more against back-ups and his rebounding and defense look better.
    You can anchor the second team offense around him. There are certain teams he could finish against.
    If this years Nets team had Brook Lopez coming off the bench, they would have done better. Also, this team lacked the chemistry that comes with playing together for years. They were ahead in the last 3 games against Miami and lost all three of them. That would get better if they stayed together longer.
    A lot of that doesn’t matter tho because this team is old and doesn’t really have time to grow together.

  11. bougin89 - May 15, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    Pierce to the Rockets. Play small around Howard just like when he was in Orlando. Pierce and Parsons could really stretch the floor around Howard and Harden’s pick n rolls…

    In reality though if Pierce goes anywhere I think it’s to the Clippers.

    • beach305 - May 15, 2014 at 6:31 PM

      With the starlings mess, ad be surprised if Doc doesn’t bolt this year.

      • bougin89 - May 16, 2014 at 10:13 AM

        I’m very anti-Sterlings but I think this will be resolved(they’ll get the boot). If he’s voted out by the other owners(I can’t see any possibility that doesn’t happen) I don’t think the players or coaches will boycott.

  12. bigwii - May 15, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    The Celtics will be competitive next year if not the year after. Rondo, Sully, a lottery pick and other young role players. Ainge has a lot of options and if they play their cards right they can do done damage next year.

    The best part is all the picks they have and what they got them for. A head coach who didn’t want to be there, and some veterans. Granted I think Pierce will come back to Boston until he retires as he should. There’s a bright future in Boston.

    • 1historian - May 15, 2014 at 7:30 PM

      Those dumb Russkis – Ainge could handle Putin without a problem.

      Pierce coming back to Boston would be incredible.

  13. ProBasketballPundit - May 15, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    Nets are effed.

    • casualcommenter - May 16, 2014 at 2:15 AM

      Basically yes. They don’t have enough youth to hope for improvement with the same roster, and they don’t have draft picks to add youth. Meanwhile, they don’t have cap space to pursue free agents either.

      Their only hope is to trade for talented but overpaid and underachieving players whose teams are trying to dump, like Josh Smith. Then, they have to hope that Smith does better for Brooklyn than he has for the Pistons.

      Their only resource is the fact that their owner doesn’t care about the luxury tax, so trading for contracts other teams consider bad is their only hope of maybe improving.

  14. dablakdrphil - May 15, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    These sports writers make you wonder if they’re for real about what they type. Because I can clearly see editing before posting doesn’t matter much. Just type away and have typo after typo. Makes you want to bring back Hooked On Phonics

    • eugenesaxe1 - May 15, 2014 at 7:26 PM

      Phonics Monkey.

  15. xli2006 - May 15, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    How in the world did that roster cost 180 Million?

    • casualcommenter - May 16, 2014 at 2:10 AM

      Joe Johnson is getting paid more this year than LeBron.
      Deron Williams is getting paid more this year than Westbrook.
      Brook Lopez is getting paid more than Serge Ibaka.
      Kevin Garnett is getting paid more than Paul Milsap.
      Paul Pierce is getting paid as much this year as Paul George will get paid next year.

      And nearly half of that $180 million total is the luxury tax.

  16. dmitchell624 - May 16, 2014 at 7:49 AM

    Yeah but at least they got Jason Kidd…………………..oh wait……he cost them half the season

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