They signed shooting guards Tyler Johnson and Allen Crabbe to offer sheets worth $124.8 million this summer. They ended up actually spending $0 on the pair after the Heat and the Blazers, respectively, matched the deals. This is the daunting task for the Nets' new general manager, Sean Marks: He must rebuild a lottery-bound team with no lottery picks. (The Nets don't control their top pick until 2019.) So he went the free-agent route, had to overbid for two unproven players—and still couldn't reel them in.
Marks is paying for the mistakes of previous regimes, and he's staring at perhaps the most difficult rebuild in NBA history. With Johnson and Crabbe, the Nets were looking to assemble a young, athletic team that could make some noise from the perimeter. Instead, Marks focused on bringing in veterans, including Jeremy Lin and Randy Foye, on small and sensible deals. Lin, who will start at point guard, had a solid season for the Hornets and showed improvement defensively.
Marks, 41, cut his teeth in the Spurs' front office and is the right person to lead the long climb back to relevance. But he learned a hard lesson this summer: Money alone can't begin to fix Brooklyn's problems.
PROJECTED LINEUP | 2015--16 stats
COACH KENNY ATKINSON (1st season with Nets)
2015--16 RECORD 21--61 (4th in Atlantic)
PG JEREMY LIN*
11.7 PPG; 3.0 APG; 41.2 FG%; 33.6 3FG%
SG RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON
5.8 PPG; 5.3 RPG; 1.3 SPG; 45.7 FG%
SF BOJAN BOGDANOVIC
11.2 PPG; 3.2 RPG; 43.3 FG%; 38.2 3FG%
PF TREVOR BOOKER*
5.9 PPG; 5.7 RPG; 1.1 APG; 49.0 FG%
C BROOK LOPEZ
20.6 PPG; 7.8 APG; 1.7 BPG; 51.1 FG%
SF SEAN KILPATRICK
11.1 PPG; 1.8 RPG; 45.6 FG%; 34.2 3FG%
PF LUIS SCOLA*
8.7 PPG; 4.7 RPG; 45.0 FG%; 40.4 3FG%
PG GREIVIS VASQUEZ*
5.7 PPG; 4.0 APG; 32.6 FG%; 24.7 3FG%
TELLING NUMBER $124.8 MILLION
A rival scout sizes up Brooklyn
They're years away from being competitive. No real, valuable draft picks until 2019. You've just gotta break it down, rebuild, and own it: We're the worst team in the NBA....Trevor Booker was a good pickup. He played well in Utah—good defender, good rebounder, not a bad scorer.... Jeremy Lin had a strong year for the Hornets. He's basically going to keep the ship afloat if he can. He's not a great point guard because he doesn't have the ballhandling skills. But he's a good all-around player and a good fit for a bad team because he'll be able to score and he can make them a little bit competitive.... Luis Scola is old. Chris McCullough—not a whole lot to work with. You'll see an entirely different team when they do take that next step.... They've basically given everyone away, and I think Brook Lopez might be the next to go. He would be a good pickup for any team. He can flat-out pick-and-pop and make a shot, and he's big enough to score inside. He's capable of double doubles every night and can get you 30. He's by far their best player.... Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a typical small, athletic forward who can run the floor. Wing defenders are so important in the game today. But I don't know how well he shoots.... [New GM] Sean Marks has come in and made massive changes. I think Kenny Atkinson was a good choice as coach. He worked for Mike Budenholzer, and I think he'll bring in that kind of a system—run up and down, defend, play small. He worked in New York under Mike D'Antoni and would certainly have learned offensive spacing from him.
The new regime inherits a tough job. How tough? These guys are worse than the Knicks.