The Brooklyn Nets are currently in transition to their next era after they traded Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during the 2022-23 season. The Nets did recoup some promising young studs in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson (who is a free agent this summer) and some draft assets in the two deals. Still, we are not entirely sure what to make of this Nets roster until we get to the regular season. Thus, it's a mystery what they will do in free agency this summer.
The Nets did maintain their standing as a playoff team the rest of the way, but it is arguable that is in large part due to the work Durant and Irving did prior to the trades. Nonetheless, Bridges has shown promise as a future star in this league. He averaged 26.1 points on 47.5 percent shooting in 27 games as a Net. Johnson, meanwhile, will become their top free agency priority this summer.
Brooklyn is currently $10 million below the luxury tax and would certainly end up above it after they give Johnson an extension. The 6-foot-8 wing will likely command a salary starting up to $20 million this 2023-24 season, which means the Nets will need to shed $15 million in trades to avoid the tax, per ESPN's Bobby Marks.
There's no saying just what direction Brooklyn will do this offseason. But considering their current situation, it seems likely that they'll see what they have with this roster, especially if Ben Simmons comes back to full health. With that, this offseason should present the Nets to sign free agents that can keep their standing as a playoff team in the East. Here are a couple of free agents they must stay away from to do that.
The Nets still have some issues with their big-man depth. While Nic Claxton has proven his worth as a starting-caliber center in the NBA, they could still use a backup big to spell the lefty off the bench. Brooklyn may be enticed to bring back Andre Drummond, who started in all of his 28 appearances, including four playoff games, as a Net during the 2021-22 season.
However, the Nets should stay away from this idea as it could stunt the growth and development of incoming third-year center Day'Ron Sharpe. Sharpe, the 29th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, has shown potential to become a quality backup big in the NBA. In spurts for the Nets last season, he showed great motor and a willingness to run the floor in transition, which could help open up easy looks for the Nets on the fast break.
With their transition period, it may be best for Brooklyn to focus on the develop of young talent like Sharpe, instead of bringing in a veteran who will only eat up their minutes like Drummond.
2. Seth Curry
Seth Curry became a key part of the trade that netted them Ben Simmons and sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers. Curry had a solid stint for them during the 2021-22 season, when he started in all of his 29 appearances and averaged nearly 15 points per game. However, he saw a reduced role in 2022-23, with his minutes going down to just nearly 20 a game and his output dipping below 10 PPG for the first time since 2020.
With Curry's contract expiring, it might be best for the Nets to move on from the sharpshooting guard. Brooklyn might want to give the keys to Cam Thomas to take the reigns as the main shooting guard on the top and focus on his development as they go through this transition stage.
By all means, Curry could still be a valuable piece as a sniper off the bench. But with the Nets no longer legitimate title contenders, he might be better on a team with real championship aspirations.