The Brooklyn Nets were many NBA fans’ picks to win the championship this year, especially after the Lakers’ early exit. However, the embattled Nets were crushed in a riveting seven-game series that ended with the Milwaukee Bucks advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in their place.
In addition, injuries to both Kyrie Irving and James Harden gravely hurt their chances of winning. The Nets have many decisions to make after their 2nd round exit, with many expiring contracts on their roster.
Player Option: Spencer Dinwiddie
Spencer Dinwiddie is arguably the most significant matter the Nets need to attend to this offseason. Dinwiddie is in a position to earn more money than his $12.3 million player option offers him next season. He’s already planning on declining his option, thus becoming a free agent for the 2021-2022 NBA season. Dinwiddie made this decision despite missing most of this season with an ACL injury. Some executives expect him to garner a contract in the high-teens annually and even indicated that Dinwiddie no longer wants to play for the Nets.
That last bit comes as a bit of a surprise, but it’s unlikely that the Nets would offer him the contract he desires anyways. Spencer Dinwiddie averaged 20.6 points, seven assists, and 3.5 rebounds in his last healthy season with the Brooklyn Nets. Unfortunately, Brooklyn already has loads of money committed to its three superstars. Because of this, the Nets will probably look for cheaper options to fill out their roster, and Dinwiddie will play for another team next season.
Expiring Contract: Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin is the most interesting of the Nets’ decisions to deal with this offseason. The 32-year-old vet had his contract bought out by the Detroit Pistons midseason before signing a minimum contract with Brooklyn for the year. He averaged nine points, six rebounds, and two assists in the playoffs this season while starting all 12 games. Despite insignificant production, the NBA veteran looked a lot like his former self and fit nicely around Brooklyn’s big three.
Whether or not Blake will return to the Nets is still up in the air; however, I believe that he will. Brooklyn still has one more season guaranteed to have all of their big three together. Harden, Irving, and Kevin Durant all have player options for the 2022-2023 season.
Blake Griffin is clearly looking more to contend for a championship than for money at this point in his career. This is evident by his desire to be bought out by Detroit and go to the Nets in the first place. After an offseason to build more chemistry with the stars, Griffin will be more ready to help get the Nets and himself each their own first ring.
Expiring Contract: Jeff Green
The rest of these expiring contracts have one thing in common: they are cheap yet serviceable role-players. Jeff Green is no exception. The 34-year-old journeyman has been a solid bench player on many different playoff-caliber teams.
This season, he averaged 11 points and four rebounds for the Nets. He’s expendable; however, I could see him being brought back for a few different reasons. Green already knows the system, has a veteran presence and is that prototypical cheap role-player that the Nets will likely look for to fill out their roster.
Expiring Contract: Bruce Brown
Bruce Brown has proved himself to be a good young piece for the Nets this year. Brooklyn traded with the Pistons to get Brown last offseason. Brown averaged roughly nine points, five rebounds, and two assists off the bench this season. He played all 12 post-season games for the Nets this year and started five of them in Kyrie Irving’s absence.
There is a chance Brown may return to the Nets next year; however, he is young and starting to prove himself worthy of a team-friendly, multi-year contract. Not that the Nets wouldn’t want him back, but I believe that they may look for a backup Point Guard with more experience, especially with the likely departure of Spencer Dinwiddie. This makes the Nets’ decisions a bit more complex than on the surface.
Expiring Contract: Mike James
The last of the Nets’ significant decisions they have to tackle this offseason is Mike James. James has spent much of the last decade performing at a high caliber in the EuroLeague, with a few short-lived runs in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans. He signed two consecutive 10-day contracts with the Nets starting on April 23rd, before signing a rest-of-the-season contract.
The 30-year-old basketball vet seems to have earned himself his first lasting chance to play NBA basketball. James played in 13 games in the regular season, averaging eight points, four assists, and 2.5 rebounds for the Nets in 18 minutes per contest. James even had some solid playoff run, averaging 11 minutes in nine postseason games.
In my opinion, Mike James has earned himself at least a veteran minimum contract to provide solid backup minutes for a contender. Furthermore, it would make sense for it to be with the Nets, as he has familiarity with the system and has already started to develop chemistry with the team. He would be a cheap role player that could even be slotted for some more run next year playing behind the superstar frontcourt of Kyrie Irving and James Harden.