A lot of the Celtics' future plans are tied to how good, or to be more precise, how bad the Brooklyn Nets are. Last night's game give us a glimpse into what they are; a 'meh' team who sits somewhere between average and subaverage depending on the health of it's three highest paid players.

That's fairly conclusive. What's a little less so, is how long they'll continue on that course. So I wanted to take a look at the Nets future; take a look at what their future financials look like, and consider their future picks owed to best figure out how valuable the picks coming the Celtics way could be.

Grey = Unguaranteed, Green = Player Option, Blue = Team option, Red = Qualifying Offer, Purple = ETO

This is no secret, but the future doesn't look all that bright for the Brooklyn Nets. A look at the above spreadsheet, tied with some common sense can help you figure out why ESPN has ranked dead last on ESPN's future power rankings lists two years in a row.

They're failing in every way. Explaining their shortcomings resemble Toby Flenderson telling Michael why they couldn't have Boy Scouts partake in their Casino Night. They're average of subaverage with their top players in decline, and they probably won't have cap space for another season, and they don't have any above average prospects unless you're particularly high on Mason Plumlee, and their pick this next season will likely be somewhere in the late 20's, and in the following three years they owe the Celtics two picks and the Celtics reserve the right to swap picks in the other year. Is that enough? Should I keep going?

Can they find a way out of this, though? It's possible, albeit extremely improbable. Let's review

2015-16 Outlook

I'll start with the obvious; the Nets best course of action is to dismiss Billy King. Actually, their best course of action would be to invent a time machine, go back to the point where Billy King suggested trading the lottery pick that would end up being Damian Lillard for Gerald Wallace and then say 'No dude, that's actually a pretty terrible idea and you're fired.'

That'll be a good step for the organization, but it won't really boost the team's chances of being successful. In order to dramatically improve, the Nets will need a good deal of luck.

Currently sitting at 27 million dollars over the cap, in order to be a major player in free agency they'd have to have a lot of good things bounce their way. For starters, they'd need both Brook Lopez and Thadeus Young to opt out of their respected options. That's a possibility for Young (who somehow is still only 26 years), but unlikely for Lopez; between his recent injury history and the cap spike the year it'd make little sense for him to not pick up his option.

Additionally, Joe Johnson and/or DeronWilliams would need to he moved, and that could conceivably happen (albeit for a minimal return). Since Johnson only has a year left on his contract, he's a much easier piece to move but you could certainly see a scenario where a team would roll the dice on Williams (and his 2016/17 ETO).

With roughly half the league substantially under the cap for the next season, some teams will obviously miss out on the marquee names (and we'll get to that shortly) and have to consider alternate options; and while Johnson will make a fair chunk of change next year, his contract ends after the season concludes. And for all he isn't Johnson's still a valuable player in this league and can improve a roster whose looking for a bit of a boost.

The problem for the Nets is that even if they could move all of these players, which is obviously extremely unlikely, there isn't a whole lot of great free agent options for them to spend their money on. Consider this free agent chart I used previously to discuss the Celtics future:

Most of those guys aren't moving. If they were to get under the cap, the best thing they could do would be to add an undervalued piece like Amir Johnson. While adding talent is always a good thing, the Nets chances of being able to improve their team through free agency is next to 0.

If you're looking into the 2016 picks the Nets owe the Celtics, seemingly the only conceivable way that this unprotected pick doesn't become a valuable lottery pick is if the Nets players can avoid the injury bug that's plagued each and every one of them throughout their career, and then play completely out of their minds during their contract seasons. In what would seem like the unofficial slogan of the Nets; that's conceivable, but improbable.

One other wrinkle to keep in mind; with the Nets looking to sell their team, they should be motivated to get this team under the luxury tax threshold. That could mean assets being moved in exchange to little or nothing.

2016-17 and the future

Without immediate hope, how does the future look for the Nets? Um, less dark?

If they don't make any major moves this year - and they shouldn't - the Nets could enter the highly touted summer of 2016 with about 50 million to spend. That number could jump to 73 million if Deron Williams (who would've just turned 32) were to exercise his option. Pending his health, it might make sense for him to opt out to be able to secure a multi-year deal.

Grey background & Red font indicates a player option from the year before

That might sound like a lot of spending money, but it's not exactly uncommon. Only a hand full of teams have significantly more committed in future salaries. Without above average prospects, and no immediate pick assets Brooklyn could be a tough-sell for players who should have no shortage of potential suitors.

The Nets do have one thing going for them, though. And it'll sound silly at first, but I honestly think it's a big selling point. The Nets are cool. Brooklyn is a cool city. They play in a cool arena. They've got cool jerseys, and occasionally cool people show up to see them play.

I don't think that pitch works for your elite prospects - Kevin Durant and Lebron James will be much too concerned about their legacy to spend a few years with a team that might not be able to compete. But it might appeal to some of the younger players, players who like the idea of playing on a 'cool' team and can talk themselves into 'starting to build something,' especially if they could team up with another up and comer.

Even if they were to secure those talents, the pick swap owed to the Celtics should still have some real value, though - With so little supporting talent, and without picks to improve, it'd still take that team a year or two to properly build and then gel.


It's hardly new news, but Danny Ainge made out like a bandit on the trade that sent Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. It would appear that under almost every possible scenario, the picks owed to the Celtics will end up being extremely valuable.

MattDotRich 3/24/2015 01:51:00 PM Edit
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