The NBA trade deadline is done. On to the buyout market.
As expected, Nets general manager Sean Marks stood pat before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline, not bringing in any help and holding onto Spencer Dinwiddie.
Just minutes after the deadline passed with him still a Net, Dinwiddie tweeted a meme of Leonardo DiCaprio celebrating along with the caption “The show goes on.” And the fact the Nets held onto him will only increase hopes that the 27-year-old can return this season from a partially torn ACL suffered in December.
“I’m very hesitant to comment on [Dinwiddie’s return] because my No. 1 goal is Spencer’s career, his long-term health,” coach Steve Nash said. “I don’t want to dampen any dreams or goals that he has. At the same time, my No. 1 goal for Spencer is more important than our team. It’s for him to get to 100 percent, his health, and to have a long and successful career after this injury. That’s my No. 1 goal.”
The Nets’ No. 1 goal is winning a title, and the fact their top threats didn’t make seismic improvements can only be viewed as a Net positive.
Yes, Miami, Denver and Boston did well, Pat Riley stealing Victor Oladipo and eyeing LaMarcus Aldridge. But the Lakers and Philadelphia wanted Kyle Lowry and neither got him. George Hill is a nice piece for the 76ers, but he’s no Lowry. The Bucks adding P.J. Tucker is tweaking the margins, not moving the needle.
The Lakers also sniffed around DeMar DeRozan and were linked with a trade for center Andre Drummond, and didn’t deal for either.
That’s not to say Drummond won’t end up with the Lakers or Clippers. But after Cleveland couldn’t find a taker for his contract, Yahoo reported they’ll pursue a buyout before the April 9 deadline. There will be plenty of suitors for the 27-year-old Mount Vernon native, and the Nets may be one, along with the Knicks.
As for that sizeable buyout market, that’s where Brooklyn’s action is.
“The buyout market, that is one of the reasons we want to remain flexible in my eyes to see how we can improve our team,” Nash said. “Maybe there are some teams that are set. But for us — especially with the roster changed after the big trade — we have to remain flexible in order to keep our options open.”
Holding onto Dinwiddie also lets the Nets keep their disabled player exception (through April 19) to go alongside the mid-level exception.
Drummond is expected to be the gem of the buyout market, and a prime target of the Lakers. But former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks — now with ESPN — posited the center could ink a long-term deal with the Knicks.
While New Orleans shipping JJ Redick to Dallas presumably took him off the buyout market, as did Cleveland dealing JaVale McGee, the pool should be deep. Aldridge will be there, as might Memphis’ Gorgui Dieng.
Assembling a Big Three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden have made the Nets an attractive destination. And they actually kick-started the buyout market when they signed Blake Griffin.
But the solid play of Griffin in his first two games (plus-21 in 34 minutes) and emergence of young Nic Claxton could make Marks reassess what he has, and what he truly needs. Their foes’ offensive rating drops from 116.0 with Claxton off the court to 101.2 when he’s on, and from 114.7 without Griffin to 95.2 with.
The big men available might slide down Brooklyn’s wish list, replaced by a wing defender or perimeter help (somebody like Avery Bradley).
“That’s a front-office question as far as adding to the roster right now,” said Nash. “You can always add depth at every position. It’s just a matter of who that is, and is that person actually adding depth, or are they just another body? So that’d be the nuance to that question. So I couldn’t answer that one. But we’ll see.”
They’ll see between now and April 9.