Brooklyn shake things up in an attempt to save their season
Things are getting desperate in Brooklyn as they sit six and a half games out of the playoff spots in the eastern conference with a 17-27 record. GM Billy King today reacted in the way he knows best, he agreed upon a trade deal. The transaction with Minnesota was signed off on today by all parties and officially approved by the NBA. The deal sees the Nets acquire veterans Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer in exchange for Brook Lopez, Mirza Teletovic, Markel Brown and a 2015 first round pick.
It is a move designed to add more scoring power to the Nets roster and more depth. Swapping Lopez for Pekovic shouldn't really be a huge step down in quality. Perhaps the Montenegrin big man will add a slightly more defensive edge to the position as he is averaging two points per game less than Lopez, but three more rebounds (Lopez 17p/7r - Pekovic 15p/10r).
Brooklyn have lacked perimeter scoring threats this season and adding two veterans like Martin and Brewer they should fill a big hole in their roster. Former Sacramento, Houston and Oklahoma City guard Martin in particular should be a great addition to the Nets. This season he is averaging seventeen points per game and shooting at nearly forty percent from the three-point line. Brewer is adding a very handy eight points per game this season as well.
The pressure on the franchise has been immense since Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov bought it in 2010 and subsequently spent hundreds of millions of dollars on running them and building a new arena in Brooklyn. The penalty of paying luxury tax is irrelevant to him, but he won't continue to keep pouring in endless amounts of his own fortune if the team is not performing to his high standards.
For Minnesota this deal is all about the future. First of all dumping three large contracts gives them more cap flexibility moving forward. Secondly getting rid of two wing players helps clear up the massive logjam that existed on their roster. With Martin and Brewer gone it gives rookie Zach LaVine the opportunity to make the starting shooting guard spot his own and also gives youngsters Glenn Robinson III and Shabazz Muhammad the chance at getting more playing time.
Exchanging Pekovic for Lopez is a bit risky due to the latter's injury history and the fact that he only has a player option for next season. The Timberwolves will look at the positives though and will hope that Brook can stay healthy and return to being one of the best offensive big men in the league. It shouldn't really be a problem for him though now that he'll have Ricky Rubio supplying him with pinpoint passes all game long.
Minnesota are currently hold the eleventh seed in the western conference with a 20-23 record. It will be a big challenge for Lopez to battle against the likes of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and LaMarcus Aldridge on a much more regular basis.
Teletovic and Brown are basically just the steak knives in this deal. The real asset that the Timberwolves get is Brooklyn's 2015 first round pick, which is currently slated to be the seventh overall selection. Obviously that will likely change between now and draft day now that the Nets have improved their team, but it could certainly still land Minnesota another quality young prospect.
Minnesota have a pretty solid group of players aged under 25 at the moment, with Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng, Glenn Robinson III and Shabazz Muhammad. They are often seen as a treadmill team and recently they have had more lottery picks than playoff games, but if they end up with two lottery picks in a draft that is stacked with talented big men, they may be able to balance out their roster and create something special for their fans.
Nikola Pekovic - 29 - C - $47.90m - 4 years (82)
Kevin Martin - 31 - SG - $21.26m - 3 years (78)
Corey Brewer - 28 - SF - $9.61m - 2 years (75)
Nikola Pekovic - Kevin Garnett - Joe Johnson - Kevin Martin - Deron Williams
Mason Plumlee, Corey Brewer, Alan Anderson, Jarrett Jack, Bojan Bogdanovic, Sergey Karasev, Andrei Kirilenko
Brook Lopez - 26 - C - $15.72m - 1 year (PO) (84)
Mirza Teletovic - 29 - PF - $3.37m - 1 year (68)
Markel Brown - 22 - SG - $507k - 1 year (62)
Nets' 2015 first round pick
Brook Lopez - Thaddeus Young - Andrew Wiggins - Zach LaVine - Ricky Rubio
Mo Williams, Ronny Turiaf, Anthony Bennett, Chase Budinger, Gorgui Dieng, Glenn Robinson III, Shabazz Muhammad