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Brooklyn Nets humiliating loss to Boston Celtics should change trade deadline plans

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics

The Brooklyn Nets were without All-Stars Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons for Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics.

Jacque Vaughn’s squad was already up against it taking on the defending Eastern Conference champions inside TD Garden in Boston.

With that said, the humiliating performance we saw from Brooklyn in this one should open the eyes of general manager Sean Marks and Co. Brooklyn found itself down 79-45 at the half. Its defense yielded a 64% field goal mark, including 59% from distance, in the first 24 minutes alone.

Yuta Watanabe, Patty Mills and Edmond Sumner came off the bench to score a total of zero points in the first half — adding more questions to the Nets’ lack of depth.

When all was said and done, Kyrie Irving got very little help without the two other All-Stars on the court in Boston. The final score of 139-96 was indicative of just how poorly the undermanned Brooklyn Nets played in this one.

With a week to go before the NBA trade deadline, this singular performance should change Brooklyn’s plans if the team wants to actually contend for the conference title moving forward.

We get it. Kevin Durant is among the best and most-valuable players in the game. When he’s on the court, this is a completely different team. But from a micro level, he wouldn’t have been able to overcome Boston’s onslaught Wednesday evening. Things need to change in the Big Apple.

Related: Brooklyn Nets standing in Sportsnaut’s NBA power rankings

Brooklyn Nets were already expected to be active ahead of NBA trade deadline

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Washington Wizards
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not like Brooklyn was playing bad basketball before Durant went down to a knee injury back on Jan. 8. In fact, the team had won 18 of 20 at the time of his injury. It has now lost seven of 11 with him sidelined. Outside of this telling us just how valuable KD is, depth has become a major concern.

A recent report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggested that Brooklyn is expected to make a move before the deadline. Said report indicated that frontcourt help was needed. With a potential NBA Playoff matchup looming against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers that makes a ton of sense.

There’s not much behind the vastly improved Nic Claxton at center in Brooklyn. Day’Ron Sharpe has not morphed into a player Vaughn can rely on to be in the rotation. Markieff Morris and Yuta Watanabe just don’t have the size. Adding help at the five would be a start. However, there’s more that’s needed.

Related: Brooklyn Nets have engaged in talks for John Collins

Brooklyn Nets’ blowout loss to the Boston Celtics tell us a story

Let’s be real here. How much can Brooklyn rely on Durant, Irving and Simmons being on the court at the same time? Irving has played in a total of 143 games (52%) since joining the Brooklyn Nets back in 2019-20.

Simmons has suited up in 37 games since Brooklyn acquired him in a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers roughly a calendar year ago. We also know all about Durant’s recent injury problems.

Most teams relying on a proverbial Big 3 would be in a world of hurt if their star player went down to a long-term injury. However, others have players who can step up and play a certain role. We’re not seeing that with the Nets right now. Whether it’s playing iso-ball like KD can or being a distrubutor like Simmons, complementary pieces are missing with the Nets.

This leads us to our overriding point. The Nets must opt to bring in multiple assets in a trade. It will be a hard task given the lack of draft picks to offer up stemming from the James Harden acquisition early in the 2020-21 campaign. But Marks can make this work.

The San Antonio Spurs out west come to mind as a potential trade partner. Veteran center Jakob Poeltl is firmly on the trade block and would be a centerpiece heading to Brooklyn in a deal. He’s averaging north of 12 points and 9.3 rebounds on the season.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

He plays solid defense and has proven to be a pretty good passer from the low-post (3.0 assists in 2022-23). His $9.3 million salary also makes it possible for Marks to expand the deal to multiple players.

Bringing in three-and-D wing Josh Richardson would solve issues at multiple positions and on both ends of the court. In addition to shooting a solid 36% from three-point range this season, Richardson has historically proven to be a good perimeter defender despite some struggles on that end during the 2022-23 campaign.

Acquiring these two rotational pieces would solve multiple issues for the Nets. In return, they could entice a rebuilding Spurs team with young guard Cam Thomas as a centerpiece. Add in a first-round pick and multiple second-round picks, and this might be enough for the Spurs to pull the trigger. They could also offer up the aforementioned Sharpe to sweeten the pot while San Antonio takes on Joe Harris’ contract as a cap filler to make the salaries work.

Are the Nets a good team? Yes. Can they contend for the NBA title this season? Possibly. But changing up the supporting cast should be in the cards ahead of next week’s trade deadline. The Brooklyn Nets’ disastrous loss to Boston Wednesday night added even more urgency in this regard.

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