The NBA trade deadline has came and went with few moves made around the league and none made by the Brooklyn Nets. When Nets GM Billy King was asked about making a trade last week, he put the Nets’ chances at about 10% and it turns out he wasn’t lying. Although the Nets were in the running for Josh Smith until the end, Smith was not traded anywhere as the Hawks received multiple underwhelming offers and Brooklyn did not make any other moves.
Let’s explore why a trade didn’t go down. The main reason the Nets did not make a move was their refusal to trade anything more than their famous HBAP package (Humphries, Brooks, and pick(s)). Teams were not willing to take on an extra year of Kris Humphries, especially if they were going to need to give up one of their key players. Let’s look more closely at some of the most rumored Nets trades and look at why they did not happen.
Trade with Boston for Paul Pierce.
This one was simple. The Celtics contacted the Nets about this trade. The Nets’ reply was HBAP, and that is pretty much where the discussions ended. The Celtics were hoping to acquire possibly a Joe Johnson, who the Nets clearly were not willing to give up.
Trade with Utah for Paul Millsap.
If there was one team who failed at the trade deadline, it was Utah. They really needed to trade either or both of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Both players are considered valuable for the remainder of the season and Utah could have gotten some good pieces back. Instead, they keep their team intact and will be lucky to win 2 games in a first round series against the Spurs, Thunder, or Clippers. Chances are they will get swept. Although HBAP might not have even been Utah’s best offer, in that scenario, the Jazz could have acquired a very valuable first round pick, which is what teams were desperately trying to acquire at this deadline. Utah really missed an opportunity here.
Trade with Charlotte for Ben Gordon.
It was assumed that if the Nets could not acquire Josh Smith, the Ben Gordon offer would still be on the table for them. And it was, but Billy King decided not to make the trade. His reasoning was that the Nets already have an explosive shooting guard who can score lots of points but does not play defense in Marshon Brooks. And Marshon is also much cheaper, younger, and a better teammate than Gordon. If the Nets swapped Kris Humphries for Gordon, they would have even less depth at power forward and would now have two players who essentially have the exact same role. Unless the Nets were able to trade Marshon away in a separate trade, this move would not make sense for the team.
Trade with Atlanta for Josh Smith.
As usual, the Nets offered their HBAP package to Atlanta for Smith, who turned it down. Surprisingly, the Hawks did not trade Smith at all and will allow him to be a free agent in the offseason. I understand why Atlanta did this at this time, but they have no one to blame but themselves for allowing this to happen. This is why teams trade their soon-to-be free agents when they have leverage before the deadline. Atlanta waited too long and therefore received very mediocre trade offers for Smith. Had the Hawks traded him at the last trade deadline or before this season started, they could have gotten much more for Smith. My guess is that the Hawks’ GM was just so disgusted with the offers he was receiving that he didn’t want to make another GM happy and surrender Josh Smith in a bad trade. Because of how weak the Nets’ package was for a player of Smith’s caliber, it is not surprising that they were unable to get a trade done.
Where do the Nets go from here?
Brooklyn still has one roster spot open which they can use to sign a player who is bought out before March 1st. Another option is to sign a D-League player, like they did last season with Gerald Green. Also, before the season the Nets invited Donte Greene, a 6’11, 25-year old power forward to training camp, but he got injured. Now he is healthy and available and could find himself a spot in Brooklyn’s rotation.
It would have been nice for the Nets to upgrade at power forward during this trade deadline, but they will survive without one. I expect Kris Humphries to play better now that he knows he can’t be traded and hopefully someone will step up towards the end of the season (maybe Mirza Teletovic) to give the Nets a boost.
The bottom line is that this Brooklyn Nets team is not quite a championship contender with their current roster, but wouldn’t be a contender even if they acquired a player like Smith. Still, this is one of the best teams in the weak eastern conference, and the conference finals are still a very realistic goal.