The Brooklyn Nets are in complete disarray. They looked like the clear NBA championship favorites a year ago with a healthy trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. Durant wasn’t always on the court due to injury recovery, Irving dealt with personal issues that saw him off the court as well, and Harden was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The return Brooklyn received from Harden looked solid, including Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, and Seth Curry.
Of course, nothing materialized for Brooklyn in the playoffs as the Boston Celtics swept them in the first round. Now, Durant and Irving both want out. Losing these stars isn’t ideal, especially considering what it cost Brooklyn to bring them in, but not all hope is lost.
Brooklyn Nets: How to Fix the Roster
Step One: The Kevin Durant Trade
Durant listed the Phoenix Suns as one of his ideal trade destinations. They have great pieces that Brooklyn should go ahead and pursue. In addition, Brooklyn should also gauge the interest of the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.
There will definitely be plenty of moving parts in a trade with Phoenix. First and foremost, however, a trade would bring Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges to the Nets, along with an assortment of draft picks. These are two excellent players, and the Nets should also try to have Cam Johnson included. This is essentially bringing in three experienced starters who are still improving.
A trade with Golden State will bring in a veteran along with young players and draft picks. Andrew Wiggins has to be included to make salaries work. He grew into an All-Star this past season. Jordan Poole will likely be included as well, and he can be a great backcourt fit alongside Simmons. Finally, there are other promising young players the Nets can swoop in for like Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman, and Moses Moody. Kuminga is the main prize out of those three.
Trading with Toronto has to involve the reigning Rookie of the Year in Scottie Barnes. He’ll be a fantastic piece to build around with Simmons. Outside of a large collection of draft picks, the Nets can also pursue OG Anunoby. He reportedly isn’t satisfied with his current role in Toronto and would surely have a bigger one in Brooklyn. He’s also a borderline elite “three-and-d” player.
The options are plentiful.
Step Two: The Kyrie Irving Trade
It would come as no surprise to see other teams backtrack on their Irving interest. It seems, at least according to reports, that Irving is deadset on playing with the Lakers. The Nets may have their hand forced here.
Brooklyn can easily take on Russell Westbrook and draft picks. Perhaps Westbrook has more in the tank and the Lakers were just a mess last season. Maybe Westbrook is way beyond his prime but is on an expiring contract. Either way, this deal isn’t horrible, it’s more so a shame to lose a talent like Irving.
Brooklyn and Los Angeles could also get a third team involved, specifically one with plenty of cap space such as the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio would take on Westbrook, along with a draft pick from the Lakers.
Step Three: Sign a Point Guard
Sure, it’s not a major game-changer, but bringing in Dennis Schroder is a solid move for Brooklyn. Schroder, if in the right situation, will bring dynamic scoring as well as playmaking. He’s likely past his Oklahoma City Thunder self, but he’s still a solid roster piece. Assuming Irving is gone, the primary ball handlers left for the Nets include Simmons and Patty Mills.
Schroder can shine in a bench role. The Nets, under the assumption that they trade Durant and Irving, will be full of players with something to prove. Schroder’s been in that position since leaving the Lakers.
What the Brooklyn Nets Roster Could Look Like
For this portion, let’s assume the Nets opt against bringing in Westbrook in an Irving trade to the Lakers.
If Durant is traded to the Suns, the Nets can use this lineup:
Simmons, Harris, Bridges, Johnson, and Ayton.
That’s a very solid squad, especially with names like Curry, Claxton, Warren, Horton-Tucker, McDermott, Mills, and others off the bench.
If Durant is traded to the Warriors, the Nets can use this lineup:
Simmons, Poole, Wiggins, Kuminga, Claxton. The bench players remain the same as the previous lineup, although Harris is added.
If Durant is traded to the Raptors, the Nets can use this lineup:
Simmons, Harris, Anunoby, Barnes, Claxton/Chris Boucher. The bench is similar to the others again.
In an ideal world, the Nets keep Durant and Irving. That seems unlikely at this point. With that being said, the options for the Nets aren’t horrible. These squads can remain competitive and allow the Nets to add more star pieces.