Sometimes they’re a request. Sometimes they’re a mix and sometimes it’s a well known league situation that begs a closer look. In this case you don’t have to be a founding member of “NBA Twitter” to know that the Brooklyn Nets would like to clear more salary cap space to re-sign Joe Harris and surround Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with more help. They may be willing to add their first round pick this year (#19) to do it.
The Deal has already explored taking on some salary from the Nets in the form of Spencer Dinwiddie and extension eligible Jarrett Allen. Dinwiddie is seen as just too much to give up from the Nets side. Taurean Waller-Prince is the money they want off their books.
Phoebe Waller- Bridge-Prince is due $13.9 million in 20-21 (we’re still calling it that even if the actual games aren’t likely to start until ‘21). His guarantee for 21-22 is $15 million. Woof, ok that’s some serious fleas to bag. It’s going to take more than the last pick in the teens to make it happen. So what else do they have to throw in that Kevin Durant won’t mind losing?
After some finagling on the NBA trade machine ... voila!
The Brooklyn Nets trade forward Taurean Prince (58 PPA), forward Nicolas Claxton (PPA 84), the 19th pick overall in 2020, and 2021 second round pick that was originally Indiana’s to the Washington Wizards in exchange for forward Isaac Bonga, guard Ish Smith and guard Jerome Robinson. Brooklyn also declines Garrett Temple’s $5 million team option for a total savings of over $9 million, not counting the $2.8 million guaranteed to the #19 pick.
Why do the Nets do the deal?
We already covered most of this in the first section. KD and Kyrie want as much money free to both re-sign priorities like Joe Harris and spend on their quest for a NBA Championship. The last thing they need is to add another rookie to the mix.
Even with KD and Kyrie pushing buttons the deal is still GM Sean Marks’ to write and close. With all the assets they’re sending to Washington it’s my bet they make one request coming back: Isaac Bonga.
Bonga is as inexpensive as he is long. He can rebound and keep the ball moving while defending an opponent’s high level wing. No, not by himself but with good team defense and a big behind him like Allen or Deandre Jordan. He’s extremely low usage. It’s a good skill set for the 4th or 5th option in a KD-Kyrie-Harris lineup. That means he could also fit nicely next to John and Brad. That thinking is why Bonga hasn’t been included in any deals until today. I likes him, not to the degree of David Aldridge, but still. Also he’s not fully baked yet, so he gets some upside points too.
Ish provides more of a penetrating guard than Temple, who could come back at a lower cost. New head coach Steve Nash wants more ball handlers at the ready. Ish makes more than they would like but the overall savings makes it doable.
Robinson provides them with a less expensive potential 2-way wing. He could also be moved again or a 3rd team added to free up more space.
Why do the Wizards do the deal?
There have got to be easier ways to pick up a first rounder, right? That’s a lot of cash committed. It can’t be *just* about the pick, right? We’ll circle back to the draft plan in a few paragraphs. Let’s dive in on Prince as a player since he’s the money coming back.
He was offered that sweet 2 year extension for a reason, similar reasons as to why he was drafted 12th overall in 2016. At 6’8 with a 6’11.5 wingspan he fits the physical archetype of the modern versatile wing forward, strong enough to hold his ground but mobile enough to cover and close out.
I got off track. He was offered that extension for the two seasons prior worth of production. In those two seasons combined he started 94% of the games played, taking 772 3pt shots and making 39 percent of them. 14pts - 4reb - 2.5ast - 1stl in those back to back seasons.
The Front Office would have to buy that Prince would return to those levels as opposed to the 34 percent he shot from deep last season. One way would be playing him more at the 3 than the 4. His big increase in time at the 4 last season looks to have contributed to his substandard year. While it’s good to figure out why, that particular point makes you wonder about his upward versatility. He’s never been one to shut down smaller players. Playing up takes a toll statistically. He can play forward next to Rui or Davis (if re-signed) but best not to throw him against true bigs. He played very well in Baylor’s zone defense so if we plan to use that at all he gets a point.
So still not optimal for his contract but hitting 38-39 percent of your 3’s while guarding starting wings goes a long way. Like I said up top there has to be more coming back than just #19 which is not enough by itself.
That’s where forward/center Nicolas “Nic” Claxton comes in. Claxton was the 31st pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Georgia. As the Atlanta SBNation affiliate writes, during the pre-draft process he measured 6’11.75 in shoes with a 7’2.5 wingspan at 217 lbs. Those numbers are almost identical to lottery pick #8 Jaxson Hayes. Claxton also put up a 36.5 max vertical so we can officially say he plays above the rim. Also 3 blocks/40 minutes in 2 seasons at Georgia.
He’s raw, no doubt. I thought he’d return to UGA after Antony Edwards committed. Instead he got paid to develop under former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.
He’s a long, agile, bouncy quick-twitch player and his agility could make him switchable on the perimeter too, intriguing. Just don’t expect much in the way of craft offensively.
#19 itself could make for a quality player. It’s a nice spot if you’re into “oh look who dropped in our laps” type of pick. In my most recent mock Brooklyn kept the pick, selecting Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey one pick ahead of more likely Wizards target Saddiq Bey.
The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie had the Wizards selecting Okongwu at #9 and Cassius Stanley at #37. He had UNC freshman guard Cole Anthony to the Nets at #19. I’m not one to immediately project the Wizards selecting a point guard just because John hasn’t played since 2018. I could be talked into Cole Anthony at 19 tho.
What’s more likely, the Wizards use 19 in combination with 9 to move up for their top guy or they use 19 and 37 to climb up, possibly into the late lottery? I’m leaning toward moving up from 19. Get in, get your best quality combo of wing, creator, or interior upgrade and be done with it.
The Wizards would still have available exceptions, MLE and BAE. WAIT! The below plus salaries for #9 and #19 puts them at $127,224,697. The 2019 luxury threshold was $132 million. Reports were that the 20-21 threshold would be $139 million. All that could change after negotiations between Adam Silver and Michele Roberts who still need to settle what a 2021 season will look like.
There is room to use the full MLE, $9,755,000 (projected). That’s essentially $137 million on the payroll. I think that’s where they’d like to land to leave room for mid-season tweaks. There would not be enough room under the $139M threshold (projected) to use the full BAE of $4,008,900 (projected). Enough to guarantee a deal for Mathews?
- John Wall - Troy Brown Jr. - Shabazz Napier (UFA)
- Bradley Beal - Garrison Mathews (RFA)
- Taurean Prince - ________ - Admiral Schofield
- Rui Hachimura - Davis Bertans (UFA)
- Thomas Bryant - Nicolas Claxton - Moritz Wagner - Anzejs Pasecniks (camp guarantee)
Take on Salary for Prince, Claxton and 19?
This poll is closed
Yes, this is a good mix of the right salary and the good enough picks.
Nah, not feeling it.
Want to request a trade target or send a challenge? Email me at Jheiser3 at gmail.com and include your Bullets Forever screen name.