The Brooklyn Nets have swung a trade, but it may not be one anyone was anticipating. No, Kyrie Irving nor Kevin Durant are being traded, or at least not in this deal. Still, the Nets have agreed to trade a 2023 first-round pick for Royce O’Neale from the Utah Jazz, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
What are the other potential ramifications of this deal, and how does it help the Nets right away? Let’s dive in.
Brooklyn Nets acquire gritty defender with Royce O’Neale
Regardless of what happens with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Nets entered the offseason with a need to improve defensively. After allowing 112.1 points per game (18th in the NBA), that much was obvious.
Landing Royce O’Neale, a 77-game starter for the Jazz last season, should help. O’Neale averaged 1.1 steals per game, chipping in 0.4 blocks per game as well. But he’s not just a defender.
- Royce O’Neale contract: $9.2 million in 2022, $9.5 million in 2023
O’Neale also has that 3-and-D mold to him, in that he averaged four attempts from three per game, hitting 38.9% of his shots from distance a season ago.
His game will remind Nets fans of Bruce Brown, who like O’Neale, doesn’t add much offensively, but O’Neale is a more willing shooter and a more efficient one. Plus, Brown is now an unrestricted free agent, so this appears to be a one-for-one replacement. Like Brown, O’Neale is also 6-foot-4, so he should be able to take over a similar role in 2022.
Utah Jazz add a valuable asset for a replacement-level player
While Royce O’Neale can add a valued member to the Nets’ rotation, as they have a stronger need to replace an outgoing free agent, at 29 years old, the Utah Jazz can find a younger player who can replace his production. Plus, at a much lower cost.
Getting an additional first-round pick in 2023 gives the Jazz another asset to maneuver with either this year or next. Though the pick isn’t likely to be too high in the first-round, as it’s the lesser of either Brooklyn’s, Houston’s, or Philadelphia’s pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Jazz also hold their own first-round selection in next year’s draft.
Plus, gaining the additional $9 million in cap room could come in handy as they look to add talent to their roster under new head coach Will Hardy. With Donovan Mitchell’s future in question, and Rudy Gobert’s status even more questionable, this Jazz roster could look entirely different next season. Perhaps this move is just the start of what could be a hectic summer in Utah.