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Brooklyn Nets rumors, top trade & free-agent targets for 2021 NBA offseason

Vincent Frank

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The Brooklyn Nets are coming off a disappointing premature exit in the playoffs. Seen as a top NBA title contender, injuries to James Harden and Kyrie Irving impacted this team big time before it fell in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Milwaukee Bucks.

As disappointing as the playoffs might have been for the Nets, they are in a great position to contend moving forward. Kevin Durant continues to play at an otherworldly level. Harden and Irving will return healthy next season.

With that said, there’s a lot of work for general manager Sean Marks and Co. to do during the NBA offseason. It’s in this that we will continue to update this page with Brooklyn Nets rumors, potential trade targets and their options once NBA free agency opens up.

Brooklyn Nets looking at a Spencer Dinwiddie sign-and-trade

brooklyn nets rumors: spencer dinwiddie sign and trade
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report notes that Brooklyn’s decision not to move Dinwiddie ahead of the March trade deadline was under the guise that it believes a sign-and-trade could be in the cards this summer. We previously focused on Dinwiddie’s asking price to return to the Nets. That seems to be a non-starter.

Instead, a hypothetical sign-and-trade sending the guard to the Miami Heat for either Andre Iguodala or Goran Dragic has been discussed. This would be a way for Brooklyn to get something in return for Dinwiddie rather than seeing him walk for nothing. Another possibility is a team with cap room signing the guard outright and then working out a sign-and-trade to create a huge exception for the Nets. Fischer pointed to the Dallas Mavericks as a possibility.

Brooklyn Nets expected to have interest in Nerlens Noel

While the 27-year-old Noel never morphed into the star many had expected when he was selected No. 6 in the 2013 NBA Draft, the big man has proven to be a stead force on defense. Last season with the Knicks, he averaged 5.1 points and 6.4 rebounds.

According to this note from Ian Begley of SNY, the Brooklyn Nets are expected to have interest in Noel during free agency depending on the cost it might take to sign the 6-foot-11 low-post player. Brooklyn will have the $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception to use in free agency.

Brooklyn Nets rumors: What will happen with Spencer Dinwiddie?

brooklyn nets trade rumors: spencer dinwiddie
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It was reported immediately after Brooklyn’s premature playoff exit that Dinwiddie is going to opt out of his $12.3 million player option for the 2021-22 season. He missed all but three games this past season with a partially torn ACL. Despite this, the expectation is that Dinwiddie is going to have a solid market and will likely move on from the Nets.

“Dinwiddie seems like he’s leaving,” an NBA executive told Michael Scotto of HoopHype. “He’ll have a high salary number. I don’t see him staying regardless. I don’t get the sense he wants to be there.”

The expectation is that Dinwiddie will get in the high teens annually once free agency opens up in August. Prior to pretty much missing the entire 2021-22 season, the point guard’s career was on an upward trajectory. He averaged 20.6 points and 6.8 assists in leading the Nets to a playoff appearance back in 2020-21.

As for Brooklyn, it has limited assets to upgrade depth that was clearly lacking this past season behind the big three. Perhaps, a sign-and-trade could be in the cards here to give the Nets a couple rotational players.

Brooklyn Nets free agent rumors: Blake Griffin, Bruce Brown and others

brooklyn nets rumors: blake griffin, free agent
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

While Griffin is no longer the player he was during his heyday with the Los Angeles Clippers, he played well for Brooklyn after coming over on the buyout market. That included the six-time All-Star averaging 9.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in roughly 27 minutes of action during the playoffs.

Griffin is accustomed to being a max-contract player. He now needs to join reality and understand he’s merely a role player at this stage in his career. The good news for Brooklyn is that Griffin has a ton of money remaining on his buyout from the Detroit Pistons — cash that will be coming to him over the next calendar year. It makes sense that he would prioritize winning over receiving another big payday, the latter of which seems unlikely in the first place.

Brown is an interesting option for other teams in need of depth out on the perimeter. The former Detroit Pistons second-round pick averaged 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds on 56% shooting from the field during the regular year. While he’s limited from a range standpoint, the Miami (F) product proved himself to be an elite perimeter defender. This might seem to indicate a strong market for the restricted free agent. With that said, Brown made it clear he wants to return to the Nets.

“I hope I’m here. I know my contract is up, but I hope I’m staying in Brooklyn,” Brown said after the Brooklyn Nets’ Game 7 loss to Milwaukee. “I love playing with these guys. They made me better this year.”

Mike James, Wilson Chandler and Jeff Green are all also set to hit free agency. With James and Chandler, it’s clear that Brooklyn might be looking to find upgrades. Green is a different story in that he played well with the Nets this past season and could return on a vet-minimum deal. The forward averaged 8.2 points on 49% shooting during the playoffs.

Potential Brooklyn Nets trade scenarios

brooklyn nets trade rumors: deandre jordan
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

There’s good news on this front for Nets general manager Sean Marks. While the Nets would have to wait until the 2021 NBA Draft to move their first-round picks due to the James Harden trade, they do have three second-round picks this year. That includes the 44th and 49th picks. These selections could potentially be packaged to a rebuilding team with DeAndre Jordan for another rotational player. There’s no reason to believe that Brooklyn will be making four picks in the draft.

As for Jordan, the veteran center is set to count $9.88 million against the cap in 2021-22. He didn’t see a single minute of action during the playoffs as head coach Steve Nash narrowed his rotation. Jordan will be traded this summer. It just remains to be seen what the Nets might be able to get back.

Joe Harris is another player the Brooklyn Nets might look to move. After some major playoff struggles, his future in the Big Apple is up in the air. We’re talking about a guy who is set to earn $55-plus million over the next three seasons. Offering up the aforementioned second-round picks and other sweeteners could make the sharp-shooting Harris attractive to other teams. After all, he did lead the NBA with a 48% three-point mark during the regular season.

Brooklyn Nets free agent targets

brooklyn nets free agent targets: andre iguodala
May 29, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala (28) controls the ball against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) during the first period during game four in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

As a tax-paying team, Brooklyn will have a $5.9 million exception to use in free agency. It can split said exception up to bring in a couple veteran options. The Nets can also simply use the entire exception on an upgrade off the bench. There’s some rather interesting options given the team’s lack of depth and its internal free agents set to hit the open market.

  • Goran Dragic: With both Harden and Irving being able to play point guard, this might not seem to be too much of a need. However, their injuries issues this past season will likely create the need for another veteran ball-handler. Miami will decline the option on Dragic’s contract for the 2021-22 season, meaning the veteran is set to hit free agency. He saw a downtick in production in 2020-21 and is likely looking at a smallish short-term contract.
  • Andre Iguodala: Another Heat player who is set to hit free agency, this former NBA Finals MVP could make sense for Brooklyn. Sure Iggy is nowhere near the player he was with the Golden State Warriors years back, but he can still make an impact on both ends of the court. Boasting plus-level defense and an ability to handle the rock, he’s the type of free agent the Brooklyn Nets should target if they want more flexibility off the bench.
  • Dwight Howard: Assuming DeAndre Jordan is not going to be back with the Nets next season, acquiring another veteran big man becomes a priority. As we saw during the playoffs, Brooklyn can’t rely on youngster Nic Claxton playing heavy minutes. Perhaps, Howard becomes a target for the Nets.

The Brooklyn Nets are in a good position as a top-end championship contender with three future first ballot Hall of Famers. If the injury issues we saw impact the team during the playoffs never came to fruition, Brooklyn would be among the final four teams remaining.

What does that all mean? Veterans will be lining up to join this squad on minimum deals. It’s something we saw with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors in the past. The hope of latching on with a contending team and winning an NBA title.