Credit Sean Marks. Before last season, the Brooklyn Nets got a reputation for making tough deals and completely undervaluing trades. He was basically the NBA version of a real estate salesman: Sure, the house is ugly, but Sean Marks could remodel it for television if he had the guts.
D’Angelo Russell. Spencer Dinwiddie. Joe Harris. Jarrett Allen. Caris LeVert. All incredible evidence of the Brooklyn Nets’ excellent scouting work. And all but Harris and Dinwiddie were gone.
Because as of 2019-2020, Sean Marks has become a complete hyperjet. Sean Marks took advantage of the Nets’ rejuvenated reputation and newfound respect in the league in a controversial move, hitting not only Kyrie Irving but also Kevin Durant.
After a year and some changes, the Nets are approaching first place in the East, with Durant, Irving, James Harden and players Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin halfway there. Lob City is on the move again.
After Marks moved on from Durant and Irving, most of his acquisitions and trades were met with skepticism, both by fans and by the league as a whole, which is probably still suffering from age-induced PTSD from the last time Brooklyn tried to build a superteam.
But Marks’ ploy hasn’t failed yet, and Brooklyn is now poised to win its first NBA championship. And with Joe Harris having another career year and the best point guard trio of all time with plenty of room in the budget, Spencer Dinwiddie will likely be next in Marks’ aggressive acquisition plan to ensure the title goes to Brooklyn this year.
Here are the offers that make this possible:
Brooklyn Nets get it: Brandon Clark, Justise Winslow.
Memphis Grizzlies gets it: Spencer Dinwiddie, Timothée Leeuwau-Cabarrot, ATL 2021 2 Rd Pick
If you’ve never watched Grizzlies basketball, you’re about to learn something important about them: They have arguably the best young core in the NBA.
Yes Morant, as talented as he is, is just the tip of the iceberg in Memphis. Every young man at Grizzly is smart, very talented and hungry. They all arrive with a chip on their shoulder after being underestimated.
After all, who heard of Brandon Clark or Jaren Jackson Jr. after they were drafted? What happened to Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen, three of the Blue Devils of the past decade?
And look at Yes! He’s probably playing with the feeling that the chips are tucked away in the shadows of Zion Williamson’s bushes.
Smart and hungry. Just what the Brooklyn Nets need.
Brandon Clark and Justise Winslow are essentially longer versions of Bruce Brown. Basically, think of Bruce Brown playing much bigger than his actual size, then stretch him to really say his size. This is what Clark and Winslow brought to the Thirsty Measure network.
The Nets are far from excellent shooters (19% and 33% from three-point range for Winslow and Clarke, respectively), but let’s not pretend they care about missed points. They are already well on their way to becoming the best offense in NBA history, and that’s with TLC execution and without Dinwiddie.
And besides the shot, both Winslow and Clark do something else important in the offense that Marks has trouble with: They’re giving the Nets more runners at the rim. Deandre still rolls to the basket well, but Winslow and Clark are athletic, rebounding and huge in size (Clark is tall, Winslow is fat).
Even better, they offer amazing value and switching ability on defense, with both players able to play four positions at any time, with the ability to use Clark in the post 5 in low post situations.
The Grizzlies get a mentor and a true floor general who can hone Morant’s game while Morant takes rest, plays with the ball in the offense and leads the offense in the second unit. And while he is very inconsistent, TLC brings the shots and length the Grizzlies desperately need.
Brooklyn Nets get it: Brooke-Lopez
Milwaukee Bucks get: Spencer Dinwiddie.
Bring back Brooklyn.
Oh, how Nets fans miss Brooke Lopez. Lopez, the Nets’ best player of all time, was Brooklyn’s only real bright spot at the beginning of the Barclays Center’s darkest years.
Sure, he’s much older and less athletic than Brooklyn, but Lopez’s game holds up like the best wines. Instead of relying on his physicality and impeccable work in the post, Lopez has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in Milwaukee as an absolute one-and-done three-and-ten minute player: a shot-blocking three-point shooter.
Like it or not, Milwaukee desperately needs a shooter outside of Chris Middleton. Jrue Holiday has failed to live up to his reputation and contract in the offensive end, and Giannis provides more than enough defense and protection from the rim for Milwaukee to not need Lopez in that area.
And for all the skeptics who think this deal will end in Milwaukee this year? Shut the fuck up. You know damn well that Milwaukee can’t get past Brooklyn or Philadelphia or maybe even Boston and Miami to meet the Lakers/Slippers/Jazz/Snaps in the NBA Finals. At least not the way it is now. Giannis is locked in for a few more years, and teams know his tricks on offense, timing or not. Milwaukee would love to have a key point guard who averaged 20 and 6 before his injury and seems close, if not 100%.
And on the Brooklyn side, of course, this forces them to say goodbye to an integral part of their collective soul and age their roster a bit. But it brings back another piece of their soul, and one of the most touching stories of this year’s NBA Finals. Everyone loves a comeback story. Especially the one that shoots so well, a 6-foot shot blocker.
Brooklyn Nets get it: Chris Boucher, Aaron Baynes.
Toronto Raptors get: Spencer Dinwiddie.
You will notice a theme in these offers: Brooklyn has one weakness, and that is the team’s defense.
Of course, Brooklyn has only lost once in its last 11 games, and its current run is due to Brooklyn finally deciding to play defensively.
Improved, however, is a strong word for a team that can only settle for mediocrity. Among others, James Harden has managed to lead a team defense that has placed Brooklyn in the middle of the pack in its last 11 games, and the Nets are virtually undefeated when their defense is just passable.
However, the team gets into too many duels in the fourth quarter to be comfortable. And the improvement on that front continues to be Brooklyn’s rebounding and defense, especially at the rim.
That theme continues here with Chris Boucher and Aron Baines. Brooklyn gets two big guys to take on giants like Giannis and Embiid during the playoffs, and Boucher profiles as a younger, more athletic version of the current version of Brooke Lopez. In return, Brooklyn gives Toronto the heir apparent to Kyle Lowry after his departure, and another good perimeter point guard.
In short, the Nets will be sad to see Dinwiddie go. But they’re in winnable mode now. And they benefit more if they actually win now.
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