Despite such a dramatic start to the season, the Brooklyn Nets have managed to stay afloat. Following a 1-5 start in October, the Nets have won eight of their first thirteen games in November. They currently have a 9-10 record, which ties them for tenth place in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls. Looking ahead, the Nets will undoubtedly want to improve their depth and chances of truly contending. To do so, they may have to consider making a deal. Here we will look at the most realistic trade target for the Nets after the first month of the 2022-23 season.
The Nets are on a bit of a mini-win streak this past week. They’ve won three of their last four games, with all three wins coming against some marquee opponents (Blazers, Grizzlies, Raptors). before that, however, they took an L against the Sacramento Kings, allowing a staggering 153 points in that contest. That’s just an insane figure even by modern basketball standards.
Having said that, this Brooklyn team certainly looks much better now under newly installed head coach Jacque Vaughn. In fact, they are now 7-5 under him as of this writing. Interestingly enough, the majority of those games have been played without star point guard Kyrie Irving. Since his return, though, the Nets look okay, going 2-1 so far. Despite that, it is evident that they need to upgrade one key position on the roster. That spot is center, where the Nets currently have a gaping hole.
Right now, Vaughn is subsisting on starting Nic Claxton as their center, with Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant also playing spot minutes along with sophomore Day’Ron Sharpe. It has yielded mixed results.
Sharpe, in particular, doesn’t look ready to handle the workload they anticipated for when they went into the season with only him and Claxton as the key bigs on the team. Sharpe played 22 minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans on opening night, shooting 1-for-8 from the floor, and hasn’t played more than 14 minutes since. Meanwhile, Claxton’s good play and the Nets’ experiment with Simmons as a center are also factors. Keep in mind, however, that the Nets are 28th in the NBA in terms of rebounds per game. Right now, Nets GM Sean Marks is still non-committal in terms of upgrading this weakness via a trade, but the need for getting outside help is crystal clear.
Now let’s look at the most realistic trade target for the Nets after the first month of this season.
Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers
The Nets will use a lot of small-ball, free-flowing combinations, with Durant, Irving, and Simmons splitting time as the offense’s leaders. When they go more conventional, they lack a proven center who can really hold his own against the elite slotmen of the league.
With a host of solid centers ruling the Eastern Conference, the Nets definitely require an upgrade at this position. If they meet Jarrett Allen, Brook Lopez, Bam Adebayo, and, of course, Joel Embiid down the line and in the postseason, things won’t look good for BKN.
This is why they should consider trading for Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers. This would help address their needs at center vacuum while also providing the Nets with another well-rounded option to cause defensive matchup difficulties.
Take note that in 42 games for the Pacers last season, Turner averaged 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, and 1.5 three-pointers while shooting 50.9 percent from the field. In contrast, Claxton is currently putting up 11.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. Claxton, however, doesn’t stretch the floor as Turner does. Starting Claxton is serviceable, but it doesn’t make the Nets a true contender.
lob it up and Clax will slam it down pic.twitter.com/NTbomtAr6U
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 24, 2022
Of course, if the Nets do make this deal a reality, both Claxton would have to alternate at the 5. This also gives coach Vaughn the flexibility to play KD as a 3. Meanwhile, Claxton could slide to the 4 against teams with bigger frontcourts (ahem, Milwaukee and Cleveland). Having two legitimate rim protectors also certainly doesn’t hurt, right?
Having said that, if the Nets do consider this, shooters like Joe Harris or Seth Curry may have to go.
Harris’ $18.6 million salary makes him a potential salary filler, while Curry will be eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. The Nets also have a less expensive alternative in Patty Mills on the books for $6.8 million next season, as well as potential rookie bench scorer Cam Thomas waiting for more consistent playing time.
Of those options, however, Harris may be the most appealing trade candidate if the Nets pursue Turner. Remember that given Brooklyn’s depth at the wing position, Harris appears the most expendable. He is now sharing time as a supplementary wing with Royce O’Neale and Yuta Watanabe. Both of those guys have shown significant improvement, while Harris has labored for paltry production. In addition, we could also see the return of TJ Warren, which means an even heavier logjam at the perimeter.
O’Neale has taken on a larger role than Harris, who has had two ankle operations in the last year. Watanabe has also been a bright spot for Brooklyn off the bench. He has delivered a scoring punch and a needed 3-and-D ability.
Meanwhile, Harris has started 11 of the Nets’ games this season. He is currently averaging 7.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.8 triples per game. Most of those numbers are down compared to last season, including his three-point shooting percentage. He’s hitting threes at just a 34.4 percent clip compared to 46.6 percent in 2021-22.
Recall that Harris agreed to a four-year, $75 million contract deal with the Nets in November 2020. Despite his injury history, he is on a trade-friendly contract for a sniper of his quality.
If the Nets do decide to go after Turner, parting ways with their longest-tenured player makes sense. Of course, they will likely have to add a sweetener like a draft pick or two to offset Harris’ hefty salary.